2005 Chenango Forks Varsity Football

Game 10 vs Owego

CF wins Section 4 title over Owego 25-13!



Articles courtesy of the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
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Forks scrapes past Owego
Mirabito's 52-yard TD lifts Devils

by Kevin Stevens
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin 

BINGHAMTON -- On to state football playoffs the Blue Devils of ChenangoQuarterback Rick Mirabito shows it's been five straight years that Chenango Forks has advanced to the state playoffs.  - Diogenes Agcaoili Jr., Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin Forks will march, perfect record in tow for a fifth consecutive season.

But first, they'll have a moment to respectfully doff their caps to Owego, a rawhide-tough squad that scrapped with Forks chinstrap-to-chinstrap before succumbing 25-13 in Friday night's Section 4 Class B title game at Binghamton Alumni Stadium.

A dead-even ballgame deep into the third quarter turned on a piece of improvisational brilliance from quarterback Rick Mirabito, who scrambled 52 yards for the go-ahead score.

The Devils followed with a three-and-out defensive series that was as critical as it was sound, given the uncharacteristically -- by Forks standards -- narrow margin.

Ten wins, zero losses is how the record has read at this stage every season from 2001 to the present for Forks, which will face either Homer of Cazenovia in a state quarterfinal at 1 p.m. Friday at Union-Endicott.

The victory was Chenango Forks' 36th in succession, matching Vestal for Section 4's all-time best unbeaten streak.

Owego closed a 6-4 season, its well-designed offensive blueprint spotlighting indefatigable Adam Hunter, who rushed 28 times for 174 yards and both of his team's TDs.

"I think people get a little spoiled, think every game we play should be a blowout," Forks tackle Matt Faughnan said. "But that's not the case. We knew they'd be a tough team coming in here. We prepared for a dogfight and that's what we got."


CFs' Rick Mirabito, left, and Kyle Firmstone celebrate after defeating Owego, 25-13, in Friday's Class B football championship at Binghamton's Alumni Stadium. - Diogenes Agcaoili Jr., Binghamton Press & Sun-BulletinPerhaps Forks' familiarity with the championship-game setting factored into the early going, with the Devils hopping to a 13-0 advantage before four minutes of the contest had elapsed. The TDs came on Joe Nicholson's 48-yard rush on the third play from scrimmage, and on Jim Nicholson's 17-yard rush one Forks snap later-- set up by Jim's 59-yard punt return.

Thereafter, the contest took on just a wee different look.

Second-quarter statistics: Hunter 14 carries, 54 yards; Forks six plays, 28 yards.

"We had them on their heels -- we had them! -- we let them off," Forks coach Kelsey Green said. "Then, they took over."

Owego drew within 13-6 when Hunter crashed over the goal line from a yard out with 1:10 left in the second quarter, finishing a 41-yard drive that began when Mirabito lost a fumble.

Two plays into the second half, Hunter sprinted 77 yards up the home sideline for a score on a play in which he appeared to be stacked up for a minimal gain. This young man's legs do not stop when he has the football in his possession-- not even for two-time defending state champions.

Marc Baker's PAT kick squared it at 13.

The sides traded punts, Forks took over at its 20-yard line, but soon stared down third-and-13 from its 48.

Play call: Mid-line right pass, Y sneak.

Defenders: Precisely where they should be.

Mirabito? Not to be stopped. He dropped back, showed pass, took off to his left, and, once he neared the sideline was not to be caught. It was 19-13 with 4:05 left in the third quarter.

"The tight end's supposed to come across on a drag," Mirabito said. "No one was open, they dropped back in coverage, I just kind of scrambled out and took it down the sideline."

Said Owego coach Steve Virkler: "That was the play. Third-and-long, he scrambles. Obviously we had it covered, but he ducked underneath."

CFs' Tyler Spencer, right, pushes off Owego's Gene Tirinato in the first quarter of Friday night's game at Binghamton's Alumni Stadium. - Diogenes Agcaoili Jr., Binghamton Press & Sun-BulletinThe Devils' defense backed that up after the ensuing kickoff. On first down from the Indians' 34, Tyler Spencer whacked Hunter for no gain. On second down, Mirabito charged in from who-knows-where to swat away a bull's-eye pass from Andy Race. On third down, Faughnan bull-rushed Race and punched down a pass just out of his hand.

"We couldn't let them have an answer," Green said. "It's like a baseball game. You put a couple runs on in the top of the inning, you can't let them have any in the bottom."

The score to settle the issue came with 3:03 to play in the game, a 41-yard rush from Jim Nicholson.

Forks committed 10 penalties for 67 yards, an even five per half.

"If you're forced to hold a kid, I think that tells you the kid's a heck of a kid," Green said. "You don't hold kids you can block. If you're flagged, a lot of it has to do with your opposition."

Place mouse over photos to read caption & photo credit

1 2 3 4   Tot
Chenango Forks 13 00 07 06 - 25
Owego 0 6 7 0 - 13
  • CF - Joe Nicholson 48 run (Dylan Warner kick)
  • CF - Jim Nicholson 17 run (kick failed)
  • Ow - Adam Hunter 1 run (kick blocked)
  • Ow - Hunter 77 run (Marc baker kick)
  • CF - Rick Mirabito 52 run (kick failed)
  • CF - Jim Nicholson 41 run (pass failed)


Owego CF
First Downs 10 11
Rushes-Yards 36-217 38-342
Passing Yards 68 15
Comp-Att-Int 4-9-0 1-4-1
Total Offense 45-285 42-357
Punts-Ave yards 5-39.8 1-44
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 2-1
Penalties-Yards 7-49 10-67


Owego rushing:  

  • Hunter 28-174, 2 TDs
  • A.J. White 3-32
  • Keith Tomazic 5-11

Chenango Forks rushing:  

  • Jim Nicholson 12-138, 2 TDs
  • Joe Nicholson 8-94, 1 TD
  • Mirabito 11-71, 1 TD
  • Tyler Spencer 3-29
  • Jarred Wells 4-10

 Owego passing

  • Mike Bensley 1-for-1, 26 yards
  • Joe Morabito 1-for-1, 25 yards
  • Andy Race 2-for-6, 17 yards
  • Hunter 0-for-1

Chenango Forks passing: 

  • Mirabito 1-for-4, 15 yards, 0 TD, 1 int.

Owego receiving: 

  • Morabito 2-34
  • Hunter 1-25
  • White 1-9

Chenango Forks receiving:  

  • Wells 1-15

Preview Articles: 

Improved Owego defense faces tough test in Forks

by Kevin Stevens
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

A stout Owego defense would appear the most significant roadblock between Chenango Forks and a fifth consecutive Section 4 Class B football championship

Kickoff at 7 tonight at Binghamton Alumni Stadium will set in motion a contest that figures to be determined largely by which side gets the better of the other's run defense, as the forward pass has been option No. 1 for neither.

Forks comes in having won 35 games in succession -- a Section 4 record -- and successful passage into the title game would mean the Blue Devils will have matched a section-record 36-game unbeaten streak established by Vestal in the 1970s.

But they are not thinking streaks on Forks' practice field, rather, about an Owego defense that has kept six of its last seven opponents short of 200 rushing yards.

Something will have to give, as Devils rushers have amassed a 757-yard take in their last two outings.

"Up front, their two tackles and the nose, those are huge kids and they move reasonably well," Forks coach Kelsey Green said of the Indians' defense. "Their two inside linebackers are very physical. One of them is the Hunter kid, and he covers a lot of ground.

"We were impressed with their two defensive ends in (last weekend's) Windsor game. And that's where Windsor likes to pound is off-tackle."

It has been with a five-game win streak that Owego has made its way to the final in this, the program's return season to Class B after a stay in the 'A' classification. During that win streak, Indians opponents have totaled 51 points.

Adam Hunter, the aforementioned linebacker, is coming off a semifinal in which he rushed 27 times for 167 yards and a pair of touchdowns. In fact, six of his 10 TDs have been scored over the last three-game stretch.

"He's their workhorse, but they were very successful with some of their quick plays to the outside (last week)," Green said.

Post-game Article:    

Fifth Quarter:     Published on Tuesdays

By Kevin Stevens
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin   

Sound state playoff prep

On the heels of back-to-back games in which they led 35-0 at halftime, the Blue Devils of Chenango Forks got what can, in hindsight, be viewed as a welcome test in Friday's 25-13 win over Owego for the program's fifth consecutive Section 4 Class B title.

Though Forks scored two touchdowns in the opening four minutes of play, it was a 13-13 ballgame well into the third quarter. A mere TD separated the teams until 6:06 remained in the game, when Forks began a clinching 73-yard scoring drive.

"Consistently across the line, that was the best line we've gone against this year," Blue Devils tackle Matt Faughnan said. "They were running it where we weren't -- that's what a good team does. They'd find a hole, get through it and get their yards."

Said Forks quarterback Rick Mirabito: "Play a quality team like that, they were outstanding, that really prepares us for the state playoffs. Every time you go on, teams get better and better, so you've got to play your best football."

Particularly interesting was Forks coach Kelsey Green's reaction in the wake of his squad's 36th consecutive victory.

"Middle of the year, I don't know that we would have won this football game," he said. "We've come a long way defensively and we've come a long way up front, physically. Our kids that prepare our kids all week long, our seconds and thirds, they've really come a long way and that does everything to help us." ...

Forks was penalized 10 times, two of those wiping away apparent touchdowns.

Jim Nicholson rushed 12 yards into the end zone in the first quarter, but a holding call brought that one back. Again it was Nicholson, running in from the Indians' 29 late in the third quarter, but another holding call negated that one. ...

Owego became the first 2005 Forks opponent to reach 200 rushing yards, its 36 attempts going for 217 yards.

"We felt like we had some good matchups up front," Indians coach Steve Virkler said. "I know those two big tackles are tough, but we thought we were better off going straight ahead than we were going sideways because they're a lot faster than we are."

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