Forks a perfect study in domination

By Kevin Stevens
Sunday, Nov. 28, 2004
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

SYRACUSE -- Occasionally, circumstances beg the silly question.

Friday afternoon -- in the wake of Chenango Forks 48, Rye 0 to accentuate a three-game, state-playoff aggregate of Chenango Forks 123, Forked Opponents 14 -- prompted one of them.

What to do for an encore?

"I have no idea. It'll be a long time before I start thinking about that one," said Kelsey Green, head of a program that broke Section 4 ground with back-to-back state football championships.

Green is not a boastful man, not one given to distributing superlatives as one would miniature Mounds bars on Oct. 31. And so Part II of his response carries some weight.

"An encore to what these kids did this year? I don't know if you're ever going to see what we saw this year in terms of a domination factor," he said.

"Last year, we had the same record, but it was a battle most every week. This year, because of what these kids did from a year ago to get here, they're at a whole other level than they were a year ago -- and they were as good as there was in the B's last year."

A Forks football formula that begins, proceeds to and ends with the word "We" gave birth Friday to completion of a second consecutive 13-0 season, one during which one of 12 on-field opponents (Bainbridge-Guilford forfeited to the Blue Devils in mid-October) put first-half points on the board.

As for legitimate tests along the way, there were two: 15-6 over Norwich in the Section 4 Class B final, and 27-7 over Hornell in the state semifinal round.

Come November weekends in the Carrier Dome, when one would expect the nature of the challenge to only intensify, the Blue Devils' average victory margin was 37 1/2 points. Six teams previously posted title-game shutouts, none by a margin as wide as Forks' on Friday. In fact, only Dolgeville's 55-3 throttling of Fort Edward in the 2000 Class D finale was more one-sided since the inaugural round of finals in 1993.

Domination factor, indeed.

It was a Forks team with no discernible weakness, a cast so full of playmakers that opponents inclined to take away one phase were doomed to be shredded by another, and on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

Offensively, the Devils were perfectly comfortable grinding out 5-yards-a-clip drives, yet demonstrated with great frequency big-play ability. Too, it genuinely mattered not to those in the red helmets whose name was attached to the most glittering statistics when the newspaper arrived the next morning.

"To run the football, you've got to have the back who's not running the ball throwing the block," Green said. "And I'll tell you, they all do. They don't care who carries the football, they just care about the number on the scoreboard."

Defensively, 63 points surrendered and a fifth shutout of 2004 registered in the championship game about sums it up. Size, speed, a grasp of fundamentals and an awareness of singular responsibilities were the hallmarks.

"Great coaching, great defense, a lot of tough kids that we've had both years," end Zach Vredenburgh said. "It just shows that we learn the defense that the coaches teach us, and they teach it well."

"Hard to run the ball on, hard to pass the ball on, hard to move the ball on -- period," was secondary man Jason Chier's description.

"It just shows that we're a real close group and we've got it together," lineman Alex Williams said. "Everyone knows what to do and we just do it."

While the '04 Blue Devils were most certainly a crew driven largely by student-athletes who've now played their final high school football game, there would appear to be a sound foundation on which to build the '05 squad -- notably juniors Matt Faughnan, Tyler Spencer, Jim Nicholson and sophomore Josh Cary.

Food for thought for '05 Forks foes, from the man who has overseen 50 victories against two defeats over the last four seasons:

"What we'd have to do is have our kids who are coming back work as hard as the kids have worked who are in the program have the last three or four years," Green said.

"I'm thinking we're going to have that."

And dessert for that food for thought as the sports calendar page flips to the winter season:

Chenango Forks and Maine-Endwell -- the latter with one final rabbit tugged from coach Jack Touhey's top hat -- claimed state football championships hours apart Friday. Broome County baseball programs have scooped up three state titles over the last four seasons. Broome boys' representation in state basketball finals? Zilch since '93.

Ah, maybe some decade.