- Nieves 10-41
- Ramsey 7-17
- Donnelly 6-6
- Niehaus 1-5
- Archibald 1-2
- Martinez 1-2
- Batty 11-59, 3 TDs
- Spencer 6-60
- Chier 7-45, 1 TD
- O'Branski 5-31
- Farnham 3-30, 1 TD
- Jim Nicholson 6-22, 1 TD
- Rittenburg 2-14
- Joe Nicholson 3-12, 1 TD
- Hessney 2-8
- Falcon 2-8
- Collingwood 2-8
- Wells 2-5
- Kwartler 1-2
- Sabo 1-(-3)
- Donnelley 4-for-14, 67 yards, 1 int
- Archibald 2-for-10, 28 yards
- Monaghan 3-41
- Hoch 2-42
- Nieves 1-12
Forks back for second championship
Devils aim to win 26th straight
By Kevin Stevens
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
For the second time in a three-week span, Chenango Forks faces a state football playoff rematch, an opportunity to line up against a foe it dispatched along the path to its 2003 Class B title.
At 1 this afternoon in the Carrier Dome, the Blue Devils will oppose Rye High School, the same Westchester County program relegated to runner-up status a year ago when the Blue Devils prevailed in the final, 16-0.
Forks' aim is to turn the title game into a Yogi-ism come true -- deja vu all over again. Two weeks ago, the Blue Devils made it past Syracuse Westhill for a second consecutive year in the quarterfinal round of state playoffs.
"We were looking at (2003) film and saying, 'Wow!' How we got through both of those guys ... " Forks coach Kelsey Green said. "We probably couldn't have played any better than we did in both of those games."
Forks-Rye II comes with a twist.
A year ago, Forks was the squad so many doubted at season's outset had the makings of a state-championship outfit. Those 2003 Blue Devils returned a mere handful of first-team players from the 2002 squad that went 12-1.
This time, it'll be a vastly experienced Forks bunch riding a 25-game win streak opposing a Rye squad that lost 22 seniors to June 2004 graduation, nine of them offensive starters, from a team acknowledged among the best in school history.
"It's safe to say we didn't have the great expectations that last year's team had," Rye junior Peter Niehaus told The Journal News of Westchester. "I guess we are the greatest group of overachievers.
"Last year's team was legendary in Rye, they were a dynasty. To live up to what they did is special."
Rye improved to a 12-0 record for a second straight year with last week's 21-14 semifinal victory over Ravena, the job polished off with a 69-yard, fourth-quarter scoring drive. The Garnets trailed in that one, 7-0 and 14-13.
Quarterback Jack Donnelly passed for 55 yards on the decisive scoring drive, converting three straight third-down passes.
"I know they were high on their quarterback last year, but the kid they have this year is an athlete," Green said. "We've seen him go 94 and 71 yards for touchdowns running, and he's got a live arm and a quick release."
"I thought they played an exceptional game in the semifinal against Ravena," he added. "Ravena, I'm not sure if maybe they hadn't had a whole lot of competition, because they rolled everybody. It was clear from the get-go that they weren't going to do that to Rye.
"Rye's got a lot of different kids, a lot of new faces. They've got a few of the crew back, but the program is obviously pretty solid."
Among other individuals who've caught the eye of Forks scouts are running back/linebacker Steve Ramsey; running back Robert Nieves, who scored the winning TD against Ravena; and 275-pound center/defensive tackle Dave Salese, a starter back from last year.
"They're very quick and physical, similar to what they were a year ago," Green said.
Forks is hopeful of regaining the services of offensive tackle Brad Watson, who injured a knee in the quarterfinal round.
A season ago, the state final was decided largely by Forks' fantastic defensive showing. Rye didn't penetrate the Blue Devils' 20-yard line over the final 44 1/2 minutes of play, and didn't cross the opposing 40 after halftime.
All the points in that game were supplied by players who'll be in uniform today -- a 36-yard field goal and 2-yard rush by Tim Batty, and a 23-yard Batty-to-Zach Vredenburgh pass.
One virtual certainty for this state final:Forks' fans, as well-acclimated to the Carrier Dome as any in the state over a four-season stretch, will be out in full force.
"It's great support from the community. You can't hear anything on that field, it's amazing," Green said. "You can feel it, and I know the kids feed off it."
Class B state final advance, scouting report:
Rye vs. Chenango Forks
By KEVIN DEVANEY JR. THE JOURNAL NEWS
November 25, 2004
The tapes of Chenango Forks look frighteningly similar to last season's. Not just because of the wishbone offense the Blue Devils run or how well they run the option. It's the familiar names on the back of the jerseys that cause the most concern.
Rye knows the challenge that lies ahead in tomorrow's Class B state title rematch with Section 4 superpower Chenango Forks. The only reminder the Garnets need is last year's state final.
"Almost their entire team is back," Garnets coach Dino Garr said. "We're going to need to do everything. We have to play as close to a perfect game as possible to win."
Garr isn't giving coach-speak either, not when you consider what Chenango Forks has been able to accomplish in recent years.
Since the start of 2001 season, the Blue Devils are 49-2 with four state final appearances. They lost to Peru (Section 7) in 2001 and were beaten by Harrison on a last-second field goal the following year. Chenango Forks finally earned its first state title last season, beating Rye 16-0.
The Blue Devils, who have won a state-best 25 consecutive games, bring the core of that team. Rye (12-0) has needed to replace 22 seniors, most of whom either started or saw significant time.
"I think we were a little more confident last year," senior center/defensive tackle Dave Salese said. "But we are ready to go. We are strictly business now and we have nothing to lose. We are excited to make it this far. We are ready to go in there and show them what we have."
Chenango Forks has one of the best running attacks in the state. It runs the option extremely efficiently and destroys teams with its multifaceted backfield.
Everything starts with quarterback Tim Batty, the school's career-record-holder for points scored. In 11 games, Batty, a 6-foot, 198-pound senior, has thrown for 643 yards without an interception. In the Blue Devils' wishbone offense, Batty runs the option as well as anybody, and decimates teams with his speed and decision-making in the open field. As a starter, Batty has never lost in his career.
"They've got a quarterback who's a winner," Garr said. "And everyone feeds off of him. He's a great runner and he throws the ball well. He makes them go."
Batty isn't the only offensive weapon for the Blue Devils, who average 346.9 yards rushing per game and 8.1 yards per carry. Tim O'Branski, Jason Chier and Jim Nicholson all carry the ball, keeping the Garnets' defense on its heels.
But don't count out Rye just yet.
In the last three games, the Garnets have been a study in resiliency, coming back to win three straight times, including a fourth-quarter comeback against Section 2's Ravena last week.
"This year's group keeps getting better and better," Garr said. "The underclassmen got a chance to play and weren't sure of themselves. Now that they've played more and more, they're learning that they can do it."
Who: Rye (12-0) vs. Section 4's Chenango Forks (12-0)
When: Tomorrow, 1 p.m.
Where: Carrier Dome, Syracuse
Rye - Jack Donnelly (6-0, 195) Jr., QB/DB; Dave Salese (6-0, 275) Sr., C/DT; Steve Ramsey (5-9, 185) Sr., RB/LB; Tim Monaghan (6-3, 180) Jr., WR/DB.
Chenango Forks - Tim Batty (6-0, 198) Sr., QB/DB/K; Alex Williams (6-0, 222) Sr., G/DT; Zach Vredenburgh (6-2, 202) Sr., SE/DE.
Last week's results: Rye defeated Section 2's Ravena 21-14. Chenango Forks beat Section 5's Hornell 27-7.
Key matchup: Garnets' running game vs. Blue Devils' defensive front
Outlook: These teams played for the state title last season, with Chenango Forks escaping with a 16-0 win. The Blue Devils, who have won a state-best 25 in a row and are making their fourth straight state final appearance, will look to jump on the Garnets early. Rye has come back to win three straight games. But doing that against this team will be tough. Chenango Forks has allowed only one first-half touchdown this season and has outscored the opposition 516-63.
Rye: Comeback kids hope to come back with title
By KEVIN DEVANEY JR.
THE JOURNAL NEWS
November 24, 2004
RYE - Each game got a little bit closer, a little more tense, and the opponent a little bit better. Rye could have very easily lost any of the last three games, and its season wouldn't have been a failure. Not when you consider the detours along the way.
But every time their backs were against the wall, the Garnets found a way to survive a long scoring drive, a big run, or a shoestring tackle inches in front of a first-down marker. In three straight games they've trailed, twice entering the fourth quarter, and in all three, they dug down and won games they probably shouldn't have won.
Fighting back has become part of Rye's charm. Last year's team dominated on its way to the Class B state championship. Its roster loaded with seniors, 22 in all, many of which were third-year starters.
"They were seen as the Dream Team," senior Steve Gulotta said.
This Rye team isn't as flashy or as hyped or as deep. And, player for player, they might not have the same level of talent.
They just win.
"We survived a lot last year on our talent," said senior tackle/defensive end Mike Shaughnessy, one of two returning two-way starters. "This year's team survives a lot more on our heart. We've been tested a lot more. We've had to dig down a lot deeper in these games and find ways to win."
Rye (12-0) was behind 8-6 going into the fourth quarter against Sleepy Hollow in the sectional final, but rallied back. They fell behind Section 9's Sullivan West in the state semifinal in the first quarter, but used two big plays to advance. They trailed 14-13 entering the fourth quarter in last week's state semifinals with Section 2's Ravena, and again found a way to win.
Overcoming such adversity doesn't make them a better team than last year's. But it makes them more prepared for Friday's state title rematch with Section 4 superpower Chenango Forks.
"Last year we didn't get a taste of defeat all through the season," running back/linebacker Steve Ramsey said. "We weren't down in any games. We were losing to Harrison in the playoffs, but we were in control in that game. This year was a different story. We had to fight more."
How this team was built is astonishing.
When the state final kicks off in the Carrier Dome in Syracuse at 1 p.m. on Friday, Rye will start four sophomores and three juniors in their first varsity season. Its kicker, Sebastian Saunders, is a freshman. It will start first-year starters at quarterback, split end and fullback. And one of the few senior starters, Gulotta, never played football until this season. Now he starts at guard and plays a significant portion of the game at inside linebacker.
During the season, Rye lost a dozen key players because of injuries, including its best all-around player in Ramsey, who missed most of eight games with an ankle injury. The injuries got so bad at one point, the Garnets had six starters out for two straight games and suited up only around 24 players, which is dangerously close to the state mandated minimum.
"With all the injuries, it was really a struggle," Rye coach Dino Garr said. "A lot of guys had to step in and learn on the field in games as they were going. It's a tribute to their hard work that they've gotten this far. It's not a miracle, although it looks that way. It's just a lot of hard work that has paid off for us.
"We're just squeaking by," senior two-way lineman Dave Salese said. "I don't know what it is. But we're just getting the job done."
To call the Garnets overachievers is a little bit unfair. They were expected to be good this season, voted in the preseason by Class B coaches as the top-ranked team in the Piner System ranking, and a unanimous choice as the No. 1 team in The Journal News poll. Reaching the state tournament was likely. Beyond that, the expectations weren't nearly as high as a year ago. They just weren't as realistic. Experience, or the lack of it, wouldn't allow for it.
"I think last year we knew what we could do early on," said Ramsey, who was the third option out of a deep backfield last year. "This year we had to develop through the season. We came into last year knowing we could go to states. This year, we really had to work for it."
And here they are, back in the Carrier Dome, the destination every team in the state strives to get; the place last year's state title dreams came up just short.
Of all the Section 1 teams left this weekend, Rye is by far the biggest underdog. Chenango Forks owns the longest current winning streak in the state with 25. It has outscored opponents 516-63 and has allowed only one first-half touchdown all season. And it also returns the bulk of last year's state championship team.
But considering what this Rye team has overcome this season, expectations don't mean anything.
"I think each of these players realizes now how well they can play," Garr said. "Now we'll just have to see what happens."
Rye football team gets opportunity to avenge defeat
By Joe Lombardi
The Journal News - The Item
November 26, 2004
Even though it happened a full year ago and 22 senior members of the team that endured it have moved on, the frustration of last year's state Class B football championship game still lingers for the Rye Garnets.
That's what happens when you turn the ball over four times on downs and have three turnovers.
And while the Garnets will never have a chance to replay that 16-0 setback to Chenango Forks at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, they will get an opportunity for the next best thing.
That's because the Garnets have made it right back to the championship.
It will be Chenango Forks, which is making its fourth straight title-game appearance.
Rye earned the return trip to the Carrier Dome by pulling out a dramatic 21-14 win against Section 2's Ravena in the state semifinals at Dietz Stadium in Kingston on Saturday, Nov. 20.