2004 Chenango Forks Varsity Football

Game 12 vs Hornell

CF defeats Hornell 27-7 to advance to 4th consecutive State Championship game!

Articles courtesy of
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, the Hornell Evening-Tribune and The Leader (Corning)

to Game 11 - Westhill

to the 2004 team page

to Game 13 - Rye

Team effort propels Devils to 4th straight Class B final

By Kevin Stevens
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

Diogenes Agcaoili Jr photos
place mouse over photos for caption

SYRACUSE -- Were it standard practice at Chenango Forks to distribute game balls to the difference-makers, Friday night's expenditure would have exhausted a healthy chunk of athletic director Rick Perkins' 2004-05 budget.

Big-play boys were abundant in this one -- consecutive victory No. 25 -- a 27-7 triumph over previously unbeaten Hornell in the Carrier Dome that reserved space for the Blue Devils in New York's Class B football championship game for a fourth consecutive season.

A stupendous defensive effort was the backbone this time out, when -- get this -- Hornell had the audacity to put points on the board in the first half! No Forks opponent had accomplished that all season.

The second of junior fullback Jim Nicholson's first-half touchdowns was scored with 60 seconds remaining in the first half and, coupled with Ben Farnham's Grade-A reception of Tim Batty's two-point pass had the Devils ahead to stay, 14-7.

Thereafter, the Red Raiders (11-1) snapped the football five times on Forks' half of the field, and no deeper than the 33-yard line.

Forks will return to the Dome to defend its state title at 1 p.m. Friday against the winner of today's Rye-Ravena semifinal, scheduled for a 3 p.m. kickoff in Kingston.

"It's incredible. It feels great to get back here for another 13th week," said Matt Faughnan, a 298-pound junior tackle. "Words can't explain it. It's a great feeling, a great feeling."

And Blue Devils coach Kelsey Green, rattling off contributor after contributor in the wake of a 20-point victory over a quality opponent, concluded of his 12-0 squad: "We're loaded, obviously, or we wouldn't be here."

Where to start?

There was Farnham, an occasionally overlooked back whose lunging, airborne, fully extended reception of a 10-yard pass from Batty kept alive a fourth-quarter driveHornell's Chris Smith, left, chases Chenango Forks' Jason Chier in the third quarter Friday at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. that closed with Jason Chier rushing 21 yards for a score -- sprung by Farnham's block at the 15-yard line.

And John Florance, who made an exceptional 25-yard grab to advance the aforementioned drive to Hornell's 35-yard line.

And Joe Nicholson, who blocked a first-quarter punt that set up Forks at Hornell's 17-yard line for a three-play drive for the first points of the game.

And Nick Tarnowski and Faughnan, who registered sacks on back-to-back plays after Hornell -- within seven points at the time -- had driven 42 yards to Forks' 33-yard line on its opening possession of the second half. The sacks went for a combined loss of 17 yards, and prompted a fourth-and-22 punt.

And Tyler Spencer, whose authoritative jolt of Hornell quarterback Shawn Hillman popped the football free for Zach Vredenburgh to recover in the end zone with 3:08 remaining to put a capper on it all.

And Batty, recipient of high praise from his coach -- as well as a state committee's nod as Forks' offensive MVP -- after orchestrating an option offense that piled up 297 yards against the best defense Forks has seen this side of Norwich's in the Section 4 final.

"Timmy's stats probably weren't impressive, but the way he ran that offense was beautiful," Green said. "Because that pitch, that's tough to make. You're reading, the guy's in your face, the ball's out there.

"He was the maestro out there today."

The Blue Devils fell behind 7-6 with 10:19 remaining in the second quarter when Kirk Luvison hit Matt Stewart for a 10-yard TD pass on fourth-and-6 and Nate Smith added the PAT kick. The score came four plays after Forks was whistled for a questionable roughing-the-passer penalty on third-and-goal from the 25.

"When adversity hit us, we responded," Green said. "That's the key. That's experience."

Forks' ensuing drive ended with a fumble after reaching Hornell's 6-yard line, but the Devils' defense followed by forcing Hornell three-and-out. The go-ahead drive started at the Red Raiders' 36-yard line with 2:35 left in the first half.

Critical plays were Batty's first-down pass of 11 yards to Vredenburgh and, three plays later, Tim O'Branski's 13-yard, third-down gain to the 5. On the next play, Forks' Tim O'Branski tries to outdistance Hornell's Kirk Luvison in the fourth quarter Friday in the Carrier Dome.Nicholson took a pitch and headed right, was stood up for an instant by a defender near the goal line -- but did a clockwise spin across the line for a 12-7 advantage.

The Blue Devils called timeout and decided on what is for them a departure of a play for the two-point conversion: Three receivers right, one left.

"It's designed to get one guy on his own -- and that was me," said Farnham, who successfully extended his arms and grabbed the football alone in the right side of the end zone to make it 14-7.

After Chier's score with 7 1/2 minutes left in the ballgame gave Forks a 20-7 lead, Chier made a splendid diving interception of a third-and-6 pass from Hillman to set up Forks at Hornell's 38.

That possession ended on failure to convert fourth down from just inside the 4-yard line. But it was on the next play that Spencer blind-sided Hillman in the end zone, creating the fumble that Vredenburgh pounced on for the last TD.

"I like the way they play the game," Hornell coach Gene Mastin said of Forks. "I like the passion with which they play the game. I liked playing them, I enjoyed playing them. They play hard and they play clean.

"I'd like to play them every year -- this weekend, if we could."

Chenango offense drives Red Raiders Batty

By Derrick Balinsky
Hornell Evening Tribune Sports Editor
Saturday, 11/20/2004

SYRACUSE - This season Chenango Forks has attacked its prey like a lion - fast, furious and without remorse. Not on this occasion.

Hornell was the victim Friday, but it resembled anything but a wounded rabbit. Hornell met nearly every punishing attack with a punishing attack of its own, but the bitter end could be staved off only so long and the Red Raiders fell, 27-7, on the artificially-turfed surface at Syracuse University's Carrier Dome.

Forks' reward is a fourth straight trip the Class B state championship. It's a shot at Section 1 Rye (12-0), which defeated Ravena, 24-14, in the other half of the bracket.

"I couldn't be happier for these kids who have the opportunity to get back on the big stage," Blue Devils' head coach Kelsey Green said several minutes after the outcome had been decided. "The last three Thanksgivings have been football and turkey. We're doing it again, and that's a great feeling."

"The expectations are high," Green added. "But they're not overwhelming, it's not like were not having fun. The pressure we feel is the pressure we put on ourselves. Obviously the kids play very well in this setting."

Tyler Spencer put an exclamation on Forks' victory by blind-siding Red Raider senior play caller Shawn Hillman, knocking the ball loose and into the welcoming arms of Zach Vredenburgh. The play resulted in a final Forks' touchdown and Batty's kick gave the Devils a comfortable 20-point lead with just over three minutes left in the game.

Forks' first possession of the fourth quarter, which began on the Hornell 23-yard line after the Raider ended the third by going three and out, proved to put the game on ice. Jason Chier capped a 10-play, 77-yard drive - one which was jam packed full of big plays - with a 21-yard touchdown run around the right end. Tim Batty, who had two of his three total completions over the stretch, had his point after attempt blocked by Hornell's Scott Young and Forks led, 20-7, with 4:25 to play. Batty first completed a 24-yard pass to John Florance along the Hornell sideline and three plays later a fully extended Ben Farnham came down with an 10-yard reception on third-and-seven. But it was Chier's run on fourth-and-five which caused the most damage.

"The first was a pattern we thought we had against them early in the game, but Tim (Batty) got flushed out of the pocket," Green said. "We went back to it and our receiver on the play made a great catch. I thought the coverage was pretty good. The second was just Tim Batty the play maker. He flushed, going backward and he still puts only where our kid can catch it and what a catch by Farnham."

"We made a lot of them," Green added about the big plays. "But these kids have made a lot of them over the years. It's nice to make them in the big games. We have some big-game performers. Our defense was solid all day and the offense made enough big plays to put the game away."

Hornell, meanwhile, couldn't. In fact, following the Red Raiders' only score in the first half - a feat which no other CF opponent has been able to accomplish - HHS never traveled inside the Forks' 33-yard line. Hornell three-pronged running attack featuring tailbacks Josh Hoffman, Kirk Luvison and David Zapata was only able to total 78 yards, the first time this season an opponent has held the Raiders below 100 yards in the category.

"We hung well, but we didn't run the ball well enough to win," Raiders' Coach Gene Mastin said. "We didn't feel at any time that we could run up the middle so we were trying to come off the edges ... they have one of the best defenses we've ever seen. As solid as their offense is and as good as it is, their defense is exceptional. Again, we did not run the ball as effectively as we need to in order to win this game. That's the bottom line."

Hornell came up with two turnovers on fumbles, but could never converted either into points. The Red Raiders also had two turnovers themselves to go along with nearly 60 yards in penalties. Although there were several questionable no calls, including one apparent CF fumble early in the second quarter, which could have given the Raiders a number of other opportunities as well as better field position in most cases.

"There were a lot of things out there like that which could have happened," Mastin said, "but there were more things under our own control that could have made a deeper impact on the game. There was nothing that had to do with the conditions, the officials or anything else - we were beaten by a better team."

Through two quarters of play, the Devils were only able to muster a 7-point, 14-7, lead. Still, CF had accumulated 122 yards on the ground compared with just 47 for its opponent. The entire offensive differential was just 135-115 and the first-down differential was just 8-7.

Exceptional field position set up the Forks second scoring drive of the game. With 3:20 to go in the half CF began a 5-play drive from the Hornell 36-yard line. Jim Nicholson's finished it off with his second TD run of the game from five yards out.

"At halftime we knew we had to a better job of stopping the run, especially the option," senior linebacker Nick Boone, who had nine tackles en route to being named Hornell's Most Valuable Defensive Player of the Game, said. "We were making a few mistakes on the pitch man, although (Josh) Hoffman did a great job of taking the quarterback out. You could tell he (Batty) didn't want any part of that option in the end. And, we were able to force a few fumbles, but we never capitalized."

Matt Stewart, who led all HHS receivers and backs with 50 yards on three pass receptions, was the beneficiary of Luvison's halfback-option pass at the 10:19 mark of the second quarter. Senior placekicker Nate Smith was true on the extra-point kick and the Raiders held a 7-6 lead, leaving the Blue Devils with their first deficit of the entire season.

Hillman, the Raider's Most Valuable Player of the Game on offense, completed six of his 13 passing attempts for 90 yards with one interception. Tight end Scott Young pulled down two passes for 42 yards.

With 5:26 left in the opening stanza, Nicholson put CF out in front with a 1-yard scoring run. The 3-play, 18-yard drive was set up by a blocked punt attempt recovered on the Hornell 17-yard line following the Raiders' first offensive possession of the game. CF went three and out after receiving the opening kickoff.

"They're a heck of a team," Luvison, who also plays in the defensive backfield, said. "We put together a game plan that we were going to go with no matter what. It wasn't good enough to get it done, but I know we gave 100 percent. We tried to take it to 'em as much as possible and it didn't work out."

The Raiders may find some solace, however, in the 11 wins piled up this season and a first-ever trip to the state semis.

"It's a huge disappointment. Not only because we lost," Luvison said, "but because it's the end of a dream that began when we we're growing up playing football. The fact that we came this far and couldn't get the job done is a disappointment, but this is the greatest group of guys you could possibly play with."

"This is the greatest football team that I've ever been a part of," Boone said. "I'll never forget any of these guys. We went further than any other Hornell football team ever has and you've got to feel good about that. As a senior, who won't be back, it hurts. But as they say, life goes on."

Coach Mastin agreed.

"When we get away from it, it will seem more special," he said. "Chenango is certainly worthy of its state ranking and being the defending champion. We really tried to prove to ourselves that we could play at this level and we're hoping to get back here some day and play again."

Dome not so sweet to Red Raiders

By Matt Wing
Hornell Evening Tribune Sports
Saturday, 11/20/2004

SYRACUSE - The Hornell football team has certainly played on turf fields before. In fact, that's all they've played on in the postseason, but Friday's experience inside the Carrier Dome at Syracuse University was one of a kind.

"We've been talking about this since seventh grade," said Hornell senior quarterback Shawn Hillman. "It's a dream come true."

For the first time in the history of the Hornell football program, the Red Raiders played in an enclosed stadium in front of the biggest crowd ever and responded well during the 27-7 loss to defending state champion and current No. 1 team in the state in Class B, Chenango Forks.

"It was a great experience for us to get this far, but I'm not going to tell you that were not disappointed," said HHS coach Gene Mastin. "We felt like we could win, even at this point and as good as (Chenango Forks) are - they are going to go on and win the state championship - we feel like we can play at this level. We just didn't get it done today."

Even though the surroundings in the Dome were much different than the players, coaches and fans in Hornell are used to, Mastin still believes the game was decided on the field, not because of the field.

"There was nothing peripheral that affected the (outcome of the) game," he said. "It was all inside the lines."

With just over a minute to play in the first half, the Red Raiders were actually winning 7-6, largely in part because of the play of Hillman, who was named the Raiders' Offensive MVP of the game for his Donovan McNabb-like plays early in the game.

On Hornell's only scoring drive, Hillman went 2-for-3 for 55 yards including a slant to tight end Scott Young for 18 yards and a 37-yard fade pass down the sideline for 37 yards, a pass that could not have been put in a better position.

"Everything was a lot faster," Hillman said. "The ball seemed to travel a lot smoother, probably because there wasn't any wind, but everything was faster and more smooth. It definitely affected the speed of play. The turf is a lot more tacky than ours and you could get better cuts."

Hillman, wearing No. 4 on his jersey, looked like SU's No. 5 later in the drive when he faked out Chenango Forks defensive back Ben Farnham on the option toss to pick up 16 yards and a first down inside the 10-yard line.

Hillman wasn't the only quarterback on the field that benefited from the fast surface. Forks QB Tim Batty continually broke down the Hornell defense with a perfect option attack of his own. In a near perfect performance, the Forks' quarterback went 3-for-5 for 46 yards through the air and has 11 rushed for 58 yards, second best on the team.

Even though the season ended on a sour note, the Red Raiders took the very successful program to another level this season, a level that they are hoping will be sustained by the upcoming classes.

"No one in Hornell has ever done it," Hillman said of getting to the state semifinals. "It feels good to be the first and hopefully not the last."

1 2 3 4   Tot
Chenango Forks 06 08 00 13 - 27
Hornell 00 07 00 00 - 7
  • CF - Jim Nicholson 1 run (Batty kick blocked)
  • H - Stewart 10 pass from Luvison (Smith kick)
  • CF - Jim Nicholson 5 run (Farnham pass from Batty)
  • CF - Chier 21 3un (Batty kick blocked)
  • CF - Vredenburgh recovers Hornell fumble in endzone (Batty kick)

TEAM STATISTICS  (from Binghamton paper. Enhanced NYS stats at bottom of page)

Hornell CF
First Downs 10 14
Rushes-Yards 31-43 42-251
Passing Yards 91 46
Comp-Att-Int 6-13-1 3-5-0
Total Offense 44-132 47-297
Punts-Ave yards 5-40.8 2-38.5
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 3-2
Penalties-Yards 6-62 3-32.5


Hornell rushing:  

  • Hoffman 15-34
  • Luvison 6-10
  • Zapata 5-9
  • Hillman 5-(-10)

Chenango Forks rushing:  

  • O'Branski 8-105
  • Batty 11-59
  • Chier 5-41
  • Jim Nicholson 8-28, 2 TDs
  • Spencer 6-11
  • Farnham 2-7
  • Joe Nicholson 1-0
  • Falcon 1-0

Hornell passing

  • Hillman 6-for-13, 91 yards, 1 int
  • Luvison 1-for-1, 10 yards, 1 TD

Chenango Forks passing: 

  • Batty 3-for-5, 46 yards

 Hornell receiving: 

  • Stewart 4-55, 1 TD
  • Young 2-42
  • Gilbert 1-4

Chenango Forks receiving:  

  • Florance 1-25
  • Vredenburgh 1-11
  • Farnham 1-10

Preview Articles:

Forks wary of Final Four first-timer

Devils to play Hornell Friday

By Kevin Stevens
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
Thursday, 11/18/2004

Chenango Forks' been there/done that Blue Devils, atop Class B's football rankings as they've been all season, will oppose a first-time state semifinalist at 5 p.m. Friday in the Carrier Dome

Forks, state champion and winner of 24 consecutive games, will meet a Hornell squad that is 11-0 for the first time in program history. By contrast, the Blue Devils' record is unblemished through 11 games for a fourth year running.

However, from Forks' vantage point, these upstart Red Raiders are very much deserving of a Final Four start.

"We thought if we got to this point, this is who'd be waiting for us -- and here they are," said coach Kelsey Green, whose Blue Devils' peak performance in the quarterfinal round resulted in a 48-7 rout of Syracuse Westhill.

"We saw them live against Geneva, and Geneva was a very, very good football team," Green added, speaking of Hornell's 21-20 win that secured the championship of Section 5. The Red Raiders followed last weekend with a 12-7 quarterfinal victory over Jamestown Southwestern.

Hornell's offense gets considerable mileage from the tailback platoon of senior Kirk Luvison and junior Josh Hoffman. Luvison has rushed for 923 yards this season, Hoffman for 580. Defensively, Luvison plays in the secondary, Hoffman at linebacker -- in which spot he earned Defensive MVP recognition with an eight-tackle outing against Southwestern.

"They're pretty diverse, they'll go from a lot of a different formations," Green said of the Raiders' offense. "They will go shotgun and throw from it, run power out of it ...

"They've got some big children, too."

In the semifinal round the last three years, Chenango Forks outscored its opponents by an aggregate 54-23 -- last season's win over Eden following back-to-back successes against Bath. In this round last November, quarterback Tim Batty was chosen the Devils' offensive MVP after producing 150 rushing yards, a touchdown and two field goals.

Forks may be without the services of offensive guard Brad Watson, who sustained a sprained knee ligament in the Westhill game. If Watson is unavailable, the Devils will likely line up with Josh Cary at guard and Luke Parga at tackle.

Special teams could make the difference

By Matt Wing
Hornell Evening Tribune Sports
Thursday, 11/18/2004

SYRACUSE - Every game begins with a kickoff. Chenango Forks, the No. 1 team in the state rankings heading into the contest, is trying not to let Friday's New York State Class B semifinal football game end on one.

The Hornell Red Raiders, the No. 3 team in the state rankings, have improved its play on special teams to a point where kick and punt returns have added to an already stellar scoring attack for one of the highest scoring teams in Section V.

"They go out and they make plays," said Hornell special teams coach Erik Werner. "We have such great athletes on the team and basically if they do their assignment, there will be a hole opening up and these guys usually find it and squeak through. It's great having these athletes."

"I think we've put a little more emphasis on (special teams)," said Werner of why it's paying off this season. "The kids have worked a lot harder and there are some different wrinkles that we've put in that put kids in position to make these big plays."

The main threat in Hornell's lineup is senior Matt Stewart, who has the breaking speed and shifty moves to turn any busted play into a huge gain. Stewart had three returns for touchdowns on specials this season, including a punt return against Honeoye Falls-Lima and kickoff returns against Palmyra-Macedon and Dansville during the regular season. He also returned an interception for a score against the Cougars.

"It's a huge adrenaline rush, that's why I like it so much," Stewart said. "The more I field it, the better I feel. As the year goes on, I feel more and more comfortable receiving the ball."

Even if the Raiders didn't break a huge return on its opponents (Hornell hasn't had a return for a score in the postseason), the work done on specials teams has made the field much shorter for the offense, leading to several easy scores and outstanding starting field position.

"The kids are starting to realize that when you play at this level, the farther you go, field position becomes an enormous advantage if you can get good field position on a return," Werner said. "That's what we want to take advantage of."

Stewart has been joined by junior Bryce Ingalls in the two-returner system most of the year, but Ingalls has been relieved on punts by freshman David Zapata, who moved up for the Red Raiders' Section V, Class B semifinal against Wayland-Cohocton. Zapata may be the quickest player on the Hornell roster and has the moves to go with it.

"It's crazy, but after that first kick, I'm all right," Zapata said of fielding his first varsity punt. "I'm not scared at all, I'm ready. That first game is already over with."

"Matt is a really good returner," added Zapata. "I do look up to these guys and try to do whatever they do, because it seems to be working. That's why they are winning."

No matter who is in the backfield set to return the kick, the Red Raiders have the confidence in its athletes to get the job done.

"It's incredible just having those guys back there," Werner said. "You can put a great return package together and you can always get some good yards, but it takes a special athlete to take it all the way, which these guys have done and are capable of any time they touch the ball. It really makes my job easier to have those athletes back there. Even if something goes wrong and they have to improvise, they can definitely do that, make a play and get good yardage or even score."

It all starts up front

The returners get all the glory and take all of the punishment when it comes to special teams, but every return starts with good blocking in the first level.

On kick returns, seniors Jake Herbert and Ryan Bicker team up with juniors Aaron Parks, Kevin Abbey and D.J. Henry to form the first level of blocking, the most important. Senior Ryan Harrison and junior Tyler Sick form the next level, what turns into the inside of the blocking wedge. The outside of the wedge is made up of senior Kevin Gilbert and junior Ryan Dieter.

"It's huge," Werner said of the first level of blockers. "Just because of how we like to block things, we definitely have to get into a drop, make sure they don't loose their man, use proper footwork, use proper leverage and get to where they need to go. If they don't get their blocks then the second unit has to clean up and they can't get to their blocks. Then it is sort of falls apart from there. It all starts up front and works its way back from there."

Once the blocking has been taken care of, it's all about the catch and finding the right hole.

"I just read my blocks, watch the double-team and follow the blocks to find the holes," said Stewart. "Just follow the return. If the return is suppose to go right, go right. Just find the hole."

"The most important thing is that we need to make sure we are catching," Werner stressed. "When kids make their drops, they are not at full speed coming at the kickoff coverage. Usually the kickoff team has that advantage. We just focus on getting back quickly and come right up and make the hit instead of receiving the hit. That creates more seems in the kickoff coverage."

Kickoffs are much easier to prepare for because you know the other team has to kick to you, or face the penalty for kicking out of bounds. On punts it's a different story.

First the team has to prepare for fake punts, but as opponents begin to see how dangerous the HHS returners can be, the tendency has leaned towards kicking punts out of bounds in order to keep the ball out of the hands of the athletes in the back.

"It's frustrating, but it can also be a sign of pride - because of the things we've done all year - if they show us that much respect to kick away from our returners," Werner said. "That's usually a smart move because we can make a lot of plays. If they decide to kick away from us, we'll take the field position and just let our offense do the work."

It only takes one play to take down the mighty Chenango Forks and the specials teams are ready to give it a shot.

Dome trip: Raiders state title quest continues Friday

By Derrick Balinsky
Hornell Evening Tribune Sports Editor
Thursday, 11/18/2004

There is no way to overstate the success Chenango Forks has had as a high school football program.

The 11-0 Blue Devils have reached the New York State semifinals in each of the past four seasons and advanced to the past three straight NYS championship games where they laid clam to the title in 2003. The Devils also have the longest active winning streak in New York State at 24 games. Dating back to the start of the 2003 season, they've won 44 straight games against Section 4 opponents, 25 straight divisional contests, 23 straight wins at home and 17 straight victories on the road.

(webmaster note, those "streak" stats date back to the start of the 2001 season and some to mid-2000)

"They've been here before and on the other side there's Ravena and Rye, who are also traditionals in this thing," said HHS Coach Gene Mastin, whose Red Raiders kickoff their first NYS semifinal game against Forks at 5 p.m. Friday in Syracuse University's Carrier Dome. "We're kind of the new kid on the block and I don't think that statewide there is a lot of expectation that Hornell will win this game. So I don't think you worry about that, you just go play."

"Chenango is better than Geneva," Mastin added. "I've heard this said from a number of people who are very knowledgeable - probably CBA (Christian Brothers Academy out of Syracuse) and Chenango Forks are probably the two best teams in the state regardless of class. CBA is in the AA and obviously Forks is in the B. If you're going to play, you're not going to get any weak sisters at this point of the year. You're going to see good teams and that's good. If we want to play at this level as a team and as a program then we have to have the expectation that we're going to play great teams."

As Mastin pointed out, Hornell is traveling in uncharted territory. Like their opponent, however, the Red Raiders have compiled 11 wins this season, setting a new single-season record in that respect. Still, HHS has been fortunate to advance with close wins over Geneva, 21-20, and Southwestern, 12-7.

"Collectively, I think we realize that we haven't played our best football in the last couple of weeks," Mastin said. "Clearly our best game came against Cal-Mum. But because of the tradition that they bring in being the defending state champions and because of the fact that a number of our players have looked at the film, they understand the task at hand."

"As I've said before, there are no weak sisters at this level," Mastin added. "Everybody that you play is a quality opponent. But each of the teams that are still in this - Chenango Forks, Ravena, Rye - had to get to that level by winning a game at this level first. We would like to achieve that in our first time there. This isn't something that we feel that because we won the West Regional for the first time, 'okay, that was nice, that's enough.' We're within a week of playing within the state championship game. In fact, you could say that because they are the defending state champs, this might be the state championship game from our standpoint. There is certainly a lot of emotional aspects to the game as it is and as coaches I don't think we need to add anything to that."

"I think whether you play the defending Super Bowl champ, the defending national champ, or the defending state champ, until somebody goes in an beats that defending champ you are the underdog. We're certainly in that role. We have not played that up as such. To be honest, this is such a quality team that we'll be playing that we don't have time to talk about playing mind games. They're good and they are sound in every facet of their game. We don't have time to play that, we need to make sure that we are fundamentally and tactically in place first.

"I don't feel that our kids are intimidated by them. They're not in awe of them in any way. We're not bad ourselves and it's good to have a team like that to lay it all on the line with. The emotions of the game at this level with take care of themselves."

Breaking it down

While the Blue Devils may not have had to play the toughest regular-season schedule - Forks has one forfeit victory to their credit in Week 7 - they do appear to be as perfect as their 11-0 record would indicate.

"We're not going to find teams who have personnel weaknesses or who are unstable from a coaching standpoint," Mastin said. "These are good teams and that's why there here. Certainly when you get Forks that has advanced to this point over the past three consecutive years and to the semis a year prior to that you're talking about some real quality people and real quality opponent."

"They've played just about a perfect season. They've played 11 games of just about perfect football," Mastin added. "They have so much talent with great packages on both sides of the ball and obviously are very well-coached and well-disciplined in that. They've done everything very, very well so far. But to get to this game, that is the kind of team that we want to play. These are the kind of seasons and these are the kind of games that dreams are made of. Again, we really need to understand that it's just a matter of going and playing and letting everything fall where it falls."

Limiting mistakes?

Over the past several days, many of the Red Raiders have mentioned playing a near-perfect football. While that may be important, Mastin again said that it's merely a matter of stepping on the field an executing.

"I don't think you can worry about being mistake-free," Mastin said. "No kid ever looks to make a mistake when they play, no player in any sport ever looks to make a mistake. I think the thing that we need to do is to just go out and play aggressive, not try to change much of anything that we've done all year - be aggressive on both sides of the ball, play good special teams and let the game go where it goes."

Game planning

So how does one go about dismantling a team without any weaknesses, one that puts up close to 45 points per game while holding opponents to right around five?

"I think we've put together plans on both sides of the ball that are a little bit different than we've done this year," Mastin said, "because I think you have to go a little bit off of the page when you play an opponent of this quality. We're not going to work to the casual fan ... we're doing some things differently in an attempt to make some things happen."

"I think from the offensive side of the ball we have to do a lot better blocking than we did the last couple of weeks," he added. "That won't come so much in the initial contact, but more so in maintaining the blocks. I think we also need to throw the ball a little more effectively and play as turnover-free as possible."

"There isn't a weak spot in this team, at least not one which is visible," Mastin added. "Once it comes to that you just have to worry about trying to do what you do well. What we're going to try to do is play very aggressively defensively - as aggressive as we can be against an option offense."

"Those things don't always happen in these games. This is not a game where we can go in and find a person or something tactically that we can exploit. This is a place where we've just got to go play."

The Blue Devils run a wishbone type offense and have a number of interchangeable blocking backs including Joe Nicholson, Jim Nicholson, Tyler Spencer while Jason Chier and Tim O'Branski share much of the ball-carrying responsibilities. As a team, Forks has run the ball 432 times this season for a total of 3,580 yards, an average of slightly over 325 per game. The quarterback, Tim Batty, is apparently one of the best in the state. However, as a team the Blue Devils have only accumulated 597 yards through the air - an average of 60 per game - on 29-for-53 this season.

"First of all, it's a wishbone offense and a wishbone run well can not be beaten on paper," Mastin said. "It's the one offense on paper that you can always win with X and O wise. What we have to do is win individual matchups. We have to tackle a lot better, we need to make first hit tackles. These are good backs and that is easier said than done."

"The quarterback is right at the top. He's as good of an option quarterback as I've ever seen," Mastin added. "They haven't had to throw the ball much (this season). They've been in situations similar to ours, they've had a lot of blowouts and a lot of 50-point games. We've seen them throw effectively, but there's no doubt that with their size, strength and running ability that they are really going to be bringing it. They'll try to bring it on the ground first."

HHS Xs and Os

As a team, HHS has put up 372 points this season, an average of just over 33 points per game. The Red Raider offense is led by senior tailback Kirk Luvison, who is just short of the 1,000-yard mark with 923 yards this season (8-plus per carry). He also leads the team in scoring with 13 touchdowns. Junior tailback Josh Hoffman is second on the team in rushing with 580 yards this season (7.25 per carry) and is second in scoring with 12 TDs. Senior play caller Shawn Hillman has completed 45 of his 77 passing attempts for 779 yards and nine TDs. His favorite receiver has been senior Matt Stewart who has 313 yards on 21 receptions. Senior Nate Smith is next with 148 yards on seven catches while junior tight end Scott Young is just behind with 142 yards on eight pass catches.

"We'll try to run the ball off-tackle like we always do on offense and we'll try to throw the play-action pass," Mastin said. "In kicking the ball, we'll try to establish good field position."

Special teams

Games can be won or lost in the area of special teams and no one knows that better than Mastin. Second-year assistant Erik Werner has done wonders as a special teams guru for the Raiders, but according to Mastin neither team may have a decisive advantage in the area.

"Great kickers," Mastin said, "great kickers. They play as hard on special teams as they do on offense or defense. They're impressive on special teams and this could possibly be the first game where we can't generate a special teams advantage. But at this point you expect teams to be well-rounded and complete. And, they are."

Dome, sweet Dome

As one would imagine, Chenango Forks is no stranger to the Carrier Dome Astroturf. Last week the Blue Devils knocked off Westhill in the NYS Class B quarterfinal, 48-7, on the same turf that Friday's game will be played on. Clearly, advantage Forks.

"I think they have an advantage in the sense that they are familiar with everything, but that was also the case with Southwestern last week playing at Ralph Wilson," Mastin said. "It does take a bit of time to get accustomed to the familiarity of it and to be honest, they're regulars up there. They've played at least two games a year over the past three years. That's all paper stuff, the game gets played on the field. With all of the anticipation, with all of the details - we're looking forward to just getting to the game.

"Our preparations have gone well. It's difficult and complex in getting ready for this week, but I feel that we are pretty much where we want to be."

Tuesday Review Article:

By Mike Mangan and Kevin Stevens
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin


Two Chenango Forks football streaks lived to see another weekend, but a third expired Friday during the Blue Devils' 27-7 victory over Hornell in a Class B state semifinal.

The Devils' 25th consecutive victory earned them a fourth consecutive berth in the state title game. However, when Matt Stewart went to the Carrier Dome turf to receive halfback Kirk Luvison's pass for a touchdown 1:41 into the second quarter, it marked the first first-half points surrendered by Forks this season.

"The first thing I thought was, 'That's the first time we've been scored on, how are we going to react to this?' And, I'd say we did a pretty good job," junior tackle Matt Faughnan said. "I don't know if it occurred to any of the other guys.

"But, this team (Hornell) is legit, this team is good. They scored on us, it popped in my mind."

Indeed, Forks responded in championship form-- with the advantage of a wealth of state-playoff experience from which to draw. The Blue Devils not only didn't allow Hornell another point, but didn't allow Hornell to penetrate their 33-yard line.

Hornell was playing in its first state semifinal.

"We know the noise of the dome, they don't," the Devils' Ben Farnham said. "That means a lot on offense. Learning how to hear in here is a little difficult.

"It's overwhelming the first time you play here, like, 'Wow, we're playing here?' That's big, because so many good people have played here. It's a great experience to play here."

Faughnan said:"I think (Forks' experience) was big. A lot of people don't know, when you come in here, it's a lot bigger than you think and it's a little nerve-wracking. And it's a lot hotter. That's the biggest difference to me. The heat gets to you and the fluids leave you so much quicker. Our coaches tell us every week we come in here, 'Gotta get your liquids, gotta get your liquids, gotta get your sleep.'

"You've got to be ready to play in here because it's a lot different than anything else. It helps a lot, just knowing what it's like in here."

Hornell coach Gene Mastin, to his credit, refused to use Forks' playoff seasoning as an excuse. "None, zero," he replied when asked how much playoff experience -- or lack thereof -- played into the outcome. "They're a better team.

"We did not run the ball effectively enough to think that we could win this game. Their defense in particular was outstanding."

Hornell-5 vs Chenango Forks-4 (Nov 19, 2004)


                            Scoring Summary (Final)
                      NYSPHSAA Central-Western Semi-Finals
      Hornell-5 vs Chenango Forks-4 (Nov 19, 2004 at Syracuse University)

                  Hornell-5 (11-1) vs. Chenango Forks-4 (12-0)

Date: Nov 19, 2004  Site: Syracuse University   Stadium: Carrier Dome

Score by Quarters     1  2  3  4   Score
-----------------    -- -- -- --   -----
Hornell-5...........  0  7  0  0  -  7
Chenango Forks-4....  6  8  0 13  - 27

Scoring Summary:
1st 05:26 C.FORKS - Jim Nicholson 1 yd run (Tim Batty kick blocked)
                     3 plays, 18 yards, TOP 0:56,  Hornell 0 - Chenango Forks 6

2nd 10:19 HORNELL - Matt Stewart 10 yd pass from Kirk Luvison (Nate Smith kick)
                    14 plays, 89 yards, TOP 7:07,  Hornell 7 - Chenango Forks 6

2nd 01:00 C.FORKS - Jim Nicholson 5 yd run (Ben Farnham pass from Tim Batty)
                     5 plays, 36 yards, TOP 1:46,  Hornell 7 - Chenango Forks 14

4th 07:30 C.FORKS - Jason Chier 21 yd run (Tim Batty kick blocked)
                     10 plays, 77 yards, TOP 4:25, Hornell 7 - Chenango Forks 20

4th 03:08 C.FORKS - Zach Vredenburgh 0 yd fumble recovery (Tim Batty kick)
                                                   Hornell 7 - Chenango Forks 27

Kickoff time: 5:00 PM   End of Game: 6:56 PM   Total elapsed time: 1:56


                            Team Statistics (Final)
                      NYSPHSAA Central-Western Semi-Finals
      Hornell-5 vs Chenango Forks-4 (Nov 19, 2004 at Syracuse University)

                                HORNELL CHENANGO

FIRST DOWNS...................       10       14
  Rushing.....................        4       11
  Passing.....................        4        3
  Penalty.....................        2        0
Rushing Attempts..............       32       43
Yards Gained Rushing..........       86      251
Yards Lost Rushing............       15        5
NET YARDS RUSHING.............       71      246
NET YARDS PASSING.............       78       46
  Passes Attempted............       14        5
  Passes Completed............        7        3
  Had Intercepted.............        1        0
TOTAL OFFENSIVE PLAYS.........       49       48
TOTAL NET YARDS...............      149      292
  Average Gain Per Play.......      3.0      6.1
Fumbles: Number-Lost..........      3-1      2-2
Penalties: Number-Yards.......     6-57     3-32
Number of Punts-Yards.........    6-243     2-77
  Average Per Punt............     40.5     38.5
Punt Returns: Number-Yards....     1--5     2-38
Kickoff Returns: Number-Yards.     4-46     1-15
Interceptions: Number-Yards...      0-0      1-0
Fumble Returns: Number-Yards..      0-0      0-0
Miscellaneous Yards...........        0        0
Possession Time...............    25:16    22:44
Third-Down Conversions........  2 of 10   5 of 9
Fourth-Down Conversions.......   1 of 1   1 of 2
Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......      1-1      2-4
Sacks By: Number-Yards........      0-0     3-22


                                 Individual Statistics (Final)
                              NYSPHSAA Central-Western Semi-Finals
              Hornell-5 vs Chenango Forks-4 (Nov 19, 2004 at Syracuse University)


Rushing         No Gain Loss  Net TD Lg  Avg
Jsh Hoffman     15   37    6   31  0  8  2.1
Shawn Hillman    4   17    1   16  0 12  4.0
Kirk Luvison     7   17    5   12  0  5  1.7
Dave Zapata      5   13    3   10  0  5  2.0
Bryce Ingalls    1    2    0    2  0  2  2.0
Totals...       32   86   15   71  0 12  2.2

Passing         Att-Cmp-Int Yds TD Long Sack
Shawn Hillman     13-6-1     90  0   37    3
Kirk Luvison       1-1-0     10  1   10    0
TEAM               0-0-0    -22  0    0    0
Totals...         14-7-1     78  1   37    3

Receiving        No.  Yds   TD Long
Matt Stewart       3   50    1   37
Scott Young        2   42    0   24
Kevin Gilbert      1    4    0    4
Chris Smith        1    4    0    4
Totals...          7  100    1   37

Punting          No.  Yds   Avg Long In20
Nate Smith         5  203  40.6   45    1
TEAM               1   40  40.0   40    0
Totals...          6  243  40.5   45    1

                  Punts   Kickoffs  Intercept
All Returns     No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg
Matt Stewart     0   0  0  1   5  5  0   0  0
Dave Zapata      0   0  0  3  41 16  0   0  0
Bryce Ingalls    1  -5  0  0   0  0  0   0  0
Totals...        1  -5  0  4  46 16  0   0  0

Field goal attempts - none

FUMBLES-Lost: Hornell-5 Shawn Hillman 2-0; TEAM 1-1. 

Chenango Forks-4

Rushing         No Gain Loss  Net TD Lg  Avg
Tim O'Branski    8  105    0  105  0 51 13.1
Tim Batty       11   58    0   58  0 16  5.3
Jason Chier      6   41    4   37  1 21  6.2
Jim Nicholson    8   29    0   29  2  9  3.6
Tyler Spencer    6   12    0   12  0  4  2.0
Ben Farnham      2    6    0    6  0  4  3.0
Joe Nicholson    1    0    0    0  0  0  0.0
Dave Falcon      1    0    1   -1  0  0 -1.0
Totals...       43  251    5  246  3 51  5.7

Passing         Att-Cmp-Int Yds TD Long Sack
Tim Batty          5-3-0     46  0   24    0
Totals...          5-3-0     46  0   24    0

Receiving        No.  Yds   TD Long
John Florance      1   24    0   24
Ben Farnham        1   11    0   11
Zach Vredenburgh   1   11    0   11
Totals...          3   46    0   24

Punting          No.  Yds   Avg Long In20
Tim Batty          2   77  38.5   46    0
Totals...          2   77  38.5   46    0

                  Punts   Kickoffs  Intercept
All Returns     No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg
Jason Chier      2  38 27  1  15 15  1   0  0
Totals...        2  38 27  1  15 15  1   0  0

Field goal attempts - none

FUMBLES-Lost: Chenango Forks-4 Jason Chier 1-1; Tim Batty 1-1.


                                Defensive Statistics (Final)
                            NYSPHSAA Central-Western Semi-Finals
            Hornell-5 vs Chenango Forks-4 (Nov 19, 2004 at Syracuse University)

## Player          Solo  Ast  Tot  TFL/Yds  FF FR-Yd Intc BrUp Blkd Sack/Yds QH
56 Nick Boone         4    5    9     .     .   .     .      .    .      /     .
28 Kirk Luvison       5    1    6     .     .   .     .      .    .      /     .
32 Ryan Dieter        4    2    6     .     .   .     .      .    .      /     .
52 Bill Drake         2    3    5    1/1    1  2-0    .      .    .      /     .
26 Kevin Gilbert      2    3    5     .     .   .     .      .    .      /     .
22 Matt Stewart       4    .    4     .     .   .     .      1    1      /     .
27 Chris Smith        2    2    4     .     .   .     .      .    .      /     .
34 Jsh Hoffman        1    3    4     .     .   .     .      .    .      /     .
74 Sam Austin         1    3    4     .     .   .     .      .    .      /     .
50 Josh Day           .    4    4     .     .   .     .      .    .      /     .
51 Ryan Harrison      1    2    3     .     .   .     .      .    .      /     .
21 Will Grinstead     1    1    2     .     .   .     .      .    .      /     .
42 Tyler Sick         1    .    1     .     .   .     .      .    .      /     .
49 Aaron Kean         1    .    1     .     .   .     .      .    .      /     .
10 Scott Young        .    1    1     .     .   .     .      .    .      /     .
TM TEAM               .    .    .     .     .   .     .      .    1      /     .

Chenango Forks-4    
## Player          Solo  Ast  Tot  TFL/Yds  FF FR-Yd Intc BrUp Blkd Sack/Yds QH
22 Jim Nicholson      5    5   10     .     .   .     .      .    .      /     .
76 Matt Faughnan      4    2    6    1/6    .   .     .      .    .   1.0/6    .
56 Alex Williams      4    2    6    1/3    .   .     .      .    .      /     .
25 Jason Chier        2    3    5     .     .   .    1-0     .    .      /     .
32 Tyler Spencer      3    1    4    2/6    1   .     .      .    .   1.0/4    .
6  Tim Batty          3    1    4    1/5    .   .     .      .    .      /     .
21 Ben Farnham        3    1    4    1/4    .   .     .      .    .      /     .
49 Nick Tarnowski     2    2    4    1/12   .   .     .      .    .   1.0/12   .
88 Zach Vredenburgh   1    2    3     .     .  1-0    .      .    .      /     .
20 Tim O'Branski      .    3    3     .     .   .     .      .    .      /     .
7  Kevin Purce        2    .    2     .     .   .     .      1    .      /     .
11 Rick Mirabito      .    2    2     .     .   .     .      .    .      /     .
70 Luke Parga         .    1    1     .     .   .     .      .    .      /     .
33 Joe Nicholson      .    1    1     .     .   .     .      .    1      /     .
65 Josh Cary          .    1    1     .     .   .     .      .    .      /     .
38 Drew Hessney       .    1    1     .     .   .     .      .    .      /     .



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