Blue Devils' Section 4-record 38-game
run ends in title game
Rye pulls away in second half
by Kevin Stevens
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
SYRACUSE --The bell tolled on Chenango
Forks' record football win streak at 5:06 Sunday
For the first time since the 2002 postseason finale, the
Blue Devils were beaten -- on this occasion, soundly --
28-7 by a squad from Rye High School that did to Forks
in the Carrier Dome what Forks had done to so many on
its way to 38 consecutive victories.
The Garnets struck first, were never caught, and
employed the same resolute, physical style of play on
both sides of the line of scrimmage that has been Forks'
trademark to earn the program's first Class B state
Rye's rushers rang up a yardage total nearly twice that
of Forks, and the Garnets' defenders limited Forks to a
scoring output 14 shy of what had been its 2005 low and
nearly 27 short of its season average.
"We threw everything at them that we could, they're just
a great team," Forks quarterback Rick Mirabito said.
"They would line it up, throw six guys at three of us
and plow us over. It was a team effort," said Blue
Devils tackle Matt Faughnan.
"They kept the football, moved the football, that's the
blueprint for success right there," Forks coach Kelsey
Green said. "They had it."
It was a veteran Rye squad that took the field with a
big-time appetite for title-game success, having fallen
to Forks by a combined 64-0 in the last two Class B
And the Garnets (12-0) proceeded to feast, bite-by-bite,
with an offense that effectively sprinkled in the pass
with an overpowering run game for which Forks had too
David Telesco rushed 20 times for 109 yards and teammate
Robert Nieves 22 times for 84, behind a line that had
the better of a Forks group unaccustomed to being
handled in such a fashion.
The score that extinguished what little realistic hopes
remained for Forks came in the form of a 20-yard,
third-down run by Peter Niehaus with 4:54 remaining in
the game. Sebastian Saunders closed out a 4-for-4 day
kicking PATs and the final points were on the board.
"They had a 38-game winning streak. What are the chances
of beating a team like this?" Niehaus said. "I don't
know what to say right now. It's just unbelievable.
"This is for all the Rye teams that had gotten here.
This is for everyone."
Upon conclusion of the first half, Forks had 43 rushing
yards and three first downs, had punted three times and
been intercepted once.
In essence, the Blue Devils (12-1) had been Forked.
Still, the deficit was a scant 7-0, the touchdown coming
midway through the first quarter on a 2-yard rush by
210-pound Nieves to finish an eight-play, 49-yard drive.
This was no gloom-and-doom scenario for Forks, which --
unlike the team of a season ago -- had emerged from a
jam or two along the way.
The likes of this Rye outfit, however, hadn't been
Forks went backward on its second half-opening
possession, punted from its 16-yard line, and the
Garnets took over at the Blue Devils' 42. Two first
downs and a penalty later, Rye had second-and-goal from
Quarterback Jack Donnelly lofted a pass to the right
side of the end zone, where Niehaus had slipped behind a
defender to make the grab and help his team to a 14-0
This time, Forks responded.
Four plays into a possession that started at their
18-yard line, the Devils converted on fourth down when
Jim Nicholson rushed for 2 yards. A play later, Rye's
Tim Monaghan was called for pass interference and Forks
was at its 46. Mirabito gained 3 yards to the 49, and
what came next suggested that, just maybe, some ballgame
Nicholson took a handoff from Mirabito, started over the
left side of the line, ran through a couple of attempted
tackles, sprang into the clear at Rye's 45-yard line and
won a footrace into the end zone.
Ed Samson kicked the extra point and it was 14-7 with
3:09 left in the third quarter.
But Rye's Nieves and Telesco went to work, rushing for 6
yards here, 11 there, and bringing their team to Forks'
Donnelly -- who'd re-injured his left ankle early on in
the possession -- hit Monaghan for a 14-yard gain to the
2½ yard line. Mirabito felled Nieves for a 2-yard loss
on the next play, but Donnelly delivered a soft pass to
Monaghan in the right side of the end zone behind the
defense to regain a two-TD advantage 1:39 into the final
Forks, forced to modify its game plan with
time-a-wasting, gave up the football four plays into the
ensuing possession when Mirabito was intercepted by Alex
Rye took the football at midfield, ran six plays to
arrive at the 20-yard line, and Niehaus put on the
finishing touches with his 20-yard scoring run with 4:54
"When Jimmy broke that run, I thought we're going to
turn it around," Mirabito said. "But they came out and
scored on that series, we throw the interception and
they come back and score."
"When they scored after that interception, basically, we
knew. There was no time to come back," said Nicholson,
whose 63 yards headed Forks rushers.
The final tally sheet reflected Rye's superiority in
such categories as time of possession (28:58 to 19:02);
third-down conversions (7-for-12 to 3-for-10); total
offensive plays (62 to 37); and passing efficiency
(5-for-8 to 1-for-6).
Together, it added up to Forks' first defeat since a
last-second field goal by Harrison downed the Blue
Devils in the 2002 state final. Thereafter began the
Section 4-record streak.
"They did the two things you have to do to win most
football games in high school and they did them very
well today," Green said of Rye's ability to run the
football and to contain the Devils' running game.
"Up front, both ways, they were very physical and
aggressive. They got off blocks, swarmed us,
gang-tackled, made it tough for us to get anything going
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Worthy foe finally ends 3-year run
by Kevin Stevens
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
SYRACUSE -- He'd been a starter on both lines for teams that had
won 38 consecutive football games.
On Sunday, Chenango Forks senior Matt Faughnan felt defeat for
the first time as a varsity player when Rye High knocked off the
Blue Devils, 28-7, in the Carrier Dome for the Class B state
"This was going to be the icing on the cake," said Faughnan, a
300-pound tackle, moments after he'd been recognized as the
game's Most Valuable Defensive Lineman. "The cake was already
made for the last 38 games, this would have been like the
sprinkles on top.
"But I don't think it diminishes anything we've done for the
last three years. We worked harder than anybody else, we came
out and played Forks football the way we could, the way we
"I don't think this does anything to tarnish anything we've done
the last three years."
What the Blue Devils have accomplished figures to go unmatched
for many seasons of Section 4 football to come, beginning with
five consecutive trips to the state championship game.
Forks had last lost a football game on Dec. 1, 2002, when Peter
Kohlasch's last-play field goal from 30 yards out sent Harrison
to a 22-21 victory in the state final.
The 2003 Blue Devils came back with a 13-0 season and the
program's first state title, and the '04 squad made it two in a
row with a 13-0 run capped by a 48-0 rout of Rye in the finale.
This year's Devils had, through 12 games and 12 victories, been
held to a point total no lower than 21 -- that figure on the
scoreboard when games ended against Windsor in Week 6, and
against Hornell in the state semifinal, when Forks escaped with
a one-point win.
In fact, the last team to hold Forks to as low a total as
Sunday's was Peru, a 14-7 winner in the 2001 state final. The
Devils had gotten by with a seven-point total the week before,
but blanked Bath in the semi.
"They're so quick, flying around," Forks' Rick Mirabito said of
Rye. "They had a great scheme to stop our option and they had a
great scheme to block our defense, came out and executed the
best they could."
"There was no place to run. There weren't a lot of things we
could do offensively," said Devils halfback Jim Nicholson.
Forks played without starting running back Jarred Wells, who
spent Sunday on crutches as a sideline observer. Wells had
averaged 4½ carries per game, though gaining 6.4 yards per
running assignment and scoring four touchdowns in the Blue
Devils' spread-the-wealth offense.
Coach Kelsey Green took the high road when asked what impact the
absence may have had.
"In the scheme of the game? No effect. None," he said, with
respect to Wells' ability but equal respect for the job done by
It was time for Green and his staff to ease into the role of
consoling adults when they boarded a bus for the likes of a ride
they'd not taken in three years.
"It's a hollow feeling. But it's more looking at your kids," he
said. "You see 40 kids there and they're heart-broken. That's
when it kicks you in the stomach.
"Yeah, it's going to bother us as a staff, no question about
that. But nothing hurts worse than when you look into your kids'
eyes when it's final and the loss is there.
"They're young and they'll get over it, I know that. But right
now, it hurts."
Win or lose, it's been a great
Chenango Forks Falls to Rye in State Class B Title Game; Fans'
spirits high despite defeat
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
SYRACUSE -- Initial excitement gave way to anxiety, which was
soon replaced by disappointment for hundreds Chenango Forks
football fans eager for a win Sunday.
Heidi Langstaff sat on a third row bleacher, chanting "defense,"
while holding up a white picket fence she made from poster
"To see him play means a lot," the Liverpool woman said of
younger brother Justin. "It means everything to him."
With Chenango Forks yet to score at halftime, fans remained
visibly confident despite the 7-0 scoreboard favoring Rye. But
quarter by quarter, fewer and fewer pom-poms were waved in the
air. Chants tapered off. The whooping and hollering, screaming
and shouting turned quiet as anxious faces became fixated on the
last minutes of the state championships.
"It's a hard game," said 49-year-old John Preston, whose son,
Josh, played in Sunday's game. "We all knew it would be. We beat
them two years in a row, so they want revenge."
He said the Chenango Forks football team would have walked out
of the Carrier Dome with their heads high even if they lost
because "that's the way champions are."
At the start of the third quarter, Rye High School was leading,
14-7, and Chenango Forks fans were reserved.
Eyes scanned the field, looking for the special number of their
son, nephew, grandson or brother.
With fewer than three minutes left in the game, fans rose to
their feet in a standing ovation, as teary-eyed players embraced
each other on the field.
"You can't be more proud that they got here," said Jim
Nicholson, whose sons, Jimmy and Joey, played in the game, "It's
been fun watching them the past three years."
Nicholson, 44, and his daughter, Samantha, both wearing Chenango
Forks replica jerseys, remained in the bleachers as players were
"You always get depressed when they lose," Samantha Nicholson
said. "It's gonna be a lot of sad football players."
Some Chenango Forks High School students left Syracuse Sunday
evening in disappointment, knowing Monday morning would be a
quiet one at school.
"I had a feeling we were gonna lose," said Aimee Lescault , a
sophomore at Chenango Forks.
Still the championship game was worth the trip, she said.
Some Chenango Forks fans began filing out of the Carrier Dome
before the 28-7 score was final.
"You can feel it in the air, it's so bad out here," a girl said
into a cell phone at the game's end.
Wiping away tears, Ann Marie Faughnan tried to imagine the kind
of disappointment her son, Matt, felt as the first loss of his
varsity football career was the last game he'd play wearing the
Chenango Forks uniform.
"Win or lose it's been a great ride," said Faughnan, 44. "I
think he feels blessed to be a part of something so special."
Matt Faughnan was awarded the defensive player of the year award
"I think he's sad that his high school career is over," she
said, watching from the bleachers as he walked off the field.
"He has eaten, slept and breathed football since he became a
part of the that program in '03."
Fans lingered around the metal railings, offering
congratulations to players.
Langstaff leaned over the railing, her white picket fence nearly
torn in two halves, waiting to greet her younger brother.
"There's always next year," she said, pumping her fist in the
air and smiling. "There's always next year."
Three & In: Rye state champs
By Kevin Devaney Jr.
The Journal News (Westchester County)
SYRACUSE — Dressed in black from head to toe,
the Rye players quietly marched onto the Carrier Dome turf
minutes before kickoff as if they were walking into a
funeral. They were 38 pallbearers ready to lay the state's
longest winning streak to rest, bury their own demons, and
carry out the state title that had eluded them the previous
"We were all business," Garnets senior Robert
Nieves said. "We didn't come all the way up here again to
lose. We were leaving here with a state championship."
Rye left the Carrier Dome last night with a
whole lot more than just a plaque and a bunch of shiny
medals. Its 28-7 victory over Section 4's Chenango Forks in
the Class B title game not only avenged two state final
losses to the Blue Devils, but also gave the Garnets the
closure they desperately needed.
"We've been waiting for this for 12 months,"
senior Peter Niehaus said. "People always say, 'Don't look
ahead, don't look ahead.' But our focus all during the
offseason was on Harrison and on this game."
Rye (12-0) won both this dream season,
knocking off the rival Huskies, who went on to win the Class
A sectional title, before ending Forks' 38-game winning
streak and claiming the school's first state football title.
The fashion in which the Garnets won
yesterday, however, was most impressive of all.
Every Rye scoring drive had its own flavor, a
different focal point wrapped around a distinctive concept.
The Garnets threw the ball at will, mixed up the carries,
and were completely unpredictable in the process.
They would use a back five times in a row on
one series, then use him as a decoy on the next. They would
follow up a play they normally run 10 times per game with
one they hadn't called in 10 years.
It was the Garnets' way of saying they
weren't just going to win a state championship — they were
going to win a state championship whatever way they wanted.
"We were very conservative, wisely, in our
play-calling the last few weeks, but we pulled out
everything today," Niehaus said. "We had plays that we only
ran in this game. ... We brought out the whole kitchen
cabinet today. You've got to bring everything in your
"We wanted to show all of our different
threats," Nieves said. "When you do that, you force them
into a guessing game."
The Garnets rode David Telesco to their first
score. The senior running back carried the ball the first
six plays of the series before Nieves capped the drive with
a 1-yard touchdown plunge with 5:49 left in the first
Rye, which had been shut out by Forks the
last two years, opened up the lead early in the third
quarter. Niehaus, normally a slot receiver, moved to
tailback — something the Garnets did previously only against
Harrison. He ran the ball four straight times, picking up 25
yards before catching a 14-yard touchdown pass from Jack
Outside of a 50-yard touchdown run by Forks'
Jim Nicholson on the next drive, the Rye defense delivered
another commanding performance. The line controlled the
game, and Alex Urso and Tim Monaghan had interceptions.
Jay Adams, an overlooked senior linebacker,
recorded 12 tackles. He also moved from right guard to left
tackle when J.B. Welling was injured in the first half and
turned in a strong performance to earn the game's MVP award.
"Jay has been doing that for us all season,"
Garnets coach Dino Garr said. "I've had some great
linebackers in my time, but Jay might be the best I've ever
Donnelly left with an ankle injury late in
the third quarter but returned to put the game away early in
the fourth, tossing a 5-yard touchdown to the 6-foot-5
Monaghan to make it 21-7.
When Urso intercepted a pass with 8:49 left,
the celebration on the Rye sideline began.
The Garnets' bench overflowed with excitement
in the closing minutes. There was hugging and smiling, but
also an aura of relief.
"I can't explain what I'm feeling," Nieves
said. "I went from leaving here in tears the last two years
to leaving here with a goofy smile on my face."
Hobbled Donnelly does it again
By Kevin Devaney Jr.
The Journal News (Westchester County)
SYRACUSE — If there is one
lasting image of Jack Donnelly in a Rye uniform, it will be of
him hobbling back onto the field after an injury to make a big
play in the big game. He's done it so many times during his two
seasons as the Garnets' quarterback. Why would the state final
be any different?
There was Donnelly again yesterday, limping off late in the
third quarter of a tight game at the Carrier Dome after a
Chenango Forks player had landed on his left ankle while he was
throwing a block.
Donnelly spent a few minutes on the sideline before returning to
throw the game-clinching touchdown and reel in the school's
first state football title with a 28-7 win over the two-time
defending champion Blue Devils.
"Jack is our general," senior running back Robert Nieves said.
"He showed his character here today. He gets hurt, comes right
back out and throws a touchdown. It's a symbol of his whole
Over the last two seasons, Donnelly has been as tough as they
come. He fought off injuries all last season, none worse than in
Rye's state semifinal, when he bounced back from a first-half
concussion to stage a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback.
Donnelly injured his ankle in the first few minutes of this
year's Section 1 final against Briarcliff. When Rye's offense
needed a boost later in the half, Donnelly limped back out and,
on his first play, threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to Peter
"(Donnelly) is such a tough, gutty kid," Rye coach Dino Garr
said. "He was really banged up in this game, and I'm going to
miss him. He and all these seniors have given Rye something very
Initially, yesterday's injury was frightening. Donnelly, a
6-foot-1, 200-pounder, pitched the ball to David Telesco and
quickly ran ahead as the lead blocker. Donnelly went down under
a pile and instantly felt pain.
"For a second, I thought it was pretty bad," he said. "I
couldn't move it, and it got really numb. But I wasn't going to
sit down in the state championship."
Donnelly, who completed 5 of 8 passes for 50 yards and two
scores, came back out to finish what he'd started. He threw the
touchdown to Tim Monaghan and guided the Garnets on another
scoring drive before being removed with three minutes to play.
"When Jack comes back in the game, everyone gets so pumped,"
Monaghan said. "This team is nothing without its quarterback."
Despite playing just two quarters in most games, Donnelly
finished the season with 886 yards, completing 63 percent of his
passes for 14 touchdowns and only one interception.
"This is the greatest feeling I've ever had in my life,"
Donnelly said. "Guys were hugging each other on the sideline
towards the end, but I didn't want to. I wanted to see the time
actually run out and finally be state champs."
Rye team gets revenge
The Garnets finally beat Chenango Forks and
win the Class B state championship.
By Neil Kerr
Syracuse Post-Standard Staff writer
The streak is over.
After winning 38 straight games over three seasons, Southern
Tier football power Chenango Forks fell behind early and never
caught up Sunday, dropping a 28-7 Class B state championship
game to Rye High at the Carrier Dome.
It was the third straight time the two teams met for the Class B
crown in the Dome. With the win, coach Dino Garr's Rye Garnets
(12-0) gained a measure of revenge for losing by 16-0 and 48-0
to Chenango Forks in the last two state title games.
Rye, 59-2 in its last 61 games, was
led by tailback David Telesco (20 carries, 109 yards) and
210-pound fullback Robert Nieves (22-for-85). Together, that
pair rushed for 194 yards. That was more than the total offense
of 153 yards mustered by Chenango Forks for the game.
(website editor note - Rye has not won 59
of its last 61 games. The writer made an error)
Late in the opening period, Rye earned the only first-half
touchdown, driving 49 yards in eight plays, capped by a 1-yard
scoring plunge by Nieves.
Rye quarterback Jack Donnelly, who completed 5 of 8 passes for
50 yards and two touchdowns, put the Garnets ahead, 13-0, with a
14-yard TD pass to Peter Niehaus with 6:29 left in the third
period. Sebastian Saunders then kicked one of his four PAT
Three minutes later, Chenango Forks (12-1) scored its final
touchdown of the season when halfback Jim Nicholson ran 50 yards
down the left sideline for six points.
After Donnelly passed 5 yards to Tim Monaghan for a 21-7 lead
with 10:21 remaining to play, the final Rye TD was set up when
Garnets' safety Alex Urso intercepted a Rick Mirabito pass with
8:49 to play. Minutes later, Rye scored its final touchdown.
Forks quarterback Mirabito completed one of six pass attempts
for 26 yards against a tough Rye defense that was led by the
tackling of linebacker Jay Adams. Adams, who was in on 12
tackles, was named the game's "Most Valuable Player."
Fifth Quarter: Published on Tuesdays
Sidney gets a taste of what Forks got used to
By Kevin Stevens
Press & Sun-Bulletin
Finality was served to Southern Tier playoff participants in
dissimilar forms on the closing weekend of high school football
in the Carrier Dome.
Cotton candy-sweet was Sidney's 48-21 dismantling of Dobbs Ferry
on Saturday for an 11th consecutive victory and New York's Class
For Chenango Forks, it was a relative chomp on an habanera
pepper, a jolt of a 28-7 loss Sunday against Rye for the Class B
title that brought painful conclusion to the program's Section
4-record 38 victories in succession.
In each ballgame, the better team was awarded the champion's
plaque — not always the case when a state title boils down to 48
minutes of football.
On Saturday, Sidney was true to 2005 form, stringing points as
if they were tiny lights on an evergreen and doing so against
the defending state champion and winner of 24 in a row.
Week 13 was transformed into a final-chapter showcase for the
Warriors, most notably their triumvirate of leading playmakers
who'd shone season-long and who punctuated a championship they'd
been so instrumental in making possible.
Seniors Aaron Zurn, Pat Simonds and Kyle Morenus were directly
responsible for 40 of their team's points in a game the Warriors
led by two or more scores from the moment they struck for a
second TD midway into the second quarter.
"I think it was around the second quarter when they figured out
that it's pretty hard to stop our offense," Simonds said. "To
see a team like Dobbs with its great tradition kind of back on
their heels a little bit, it was pretty breath-taking.
"It was pretty crazy out there."
In a different sense, it was pretty crazy out there on Sunday as
well, watching a Chenango Forks offense given to machine-like
production in recent years operating as if laboring up a steep
incline and into a sustained bad-hair wind.
Where Forks attempted to venture offensively, Rye's guys were
there, again and again and again. Take away Jim Nicholson's
third-quarter sprint from a yard shy of midfield for his team's
only TD and the Blue Devils were left a 76-yard rushing total.
Imagine an auctioneer with laryngitis, or a hurdler competing
wearing ankle weights; it about sizes up Forks' ability to put
up points with a ground game jammed into neutral by a defense
that was simply better.
"It wasn't one kid making a tackle, it was 4-5 kids on every
single tackle," Forks senior Matt Faughnan said.
And perhaps it was more than well-designed defensive scheme
alone that had the Blue Devils bottled up like flat Mountain
Dew. Read the words of Garnets senior Peter Niehaus, whose
acceptance of a sportsmanship award postgame was preceded by
quality play as linebacker and running back:
"I think the biggest difference from last year (a 48-0 Forks
carving of Rye in the final) was, we lifted so much more during
the season. Last year, they just manhandled us, they were so
much stronger than us. We matched them man-for-man this year; we
pushed them back."
The afternoon before, Sidney did its share of pushing and
shoving and impeding, with 6-foot-7 Jordan Tuttel and mates up
front holding up their end so that "The Triplets" could do their
But brute force is merely one piece of the puzzling picture that
is Sidney's offense, which operates behind a philosophy built in
part around deception — just as Dobbs Ferry linebacker Mark
"With their offense, it was hard to see where the ball was with
them all close together," Kalaba said. "We practiced hard and we
thought we knew what was going on, but during the game it was
hard to read the ball."
Several members of Sidney's championship cast were asked: Had
Class C state supremacy been suggested on Day 1 of preseason,
how might you have reacted?
"I knew we had a great team, but I didn't know it'd be this good
at the time," said Tuttel, who is leaning toward attending
Cornell University. "But we worked hard, week after week we got
better, and this is how it turned out."
Simonds: "I don't think it was out of the question."
Alex McLean: "You go into a season thinking, 'We can do this.'
But to actually do it, you can't even describe."
As for the Garnets of Rye, hungry for title-game success after
being held scoreless by Forks in the previous two, they had a
notion that this might be their breakthrough year.
"We felt very strongly that we didn't want to get in a position
to let them get ahead of us again," coach Dino Garr said. "We
felt strongly that with our experience of being here, that
hopefully we could play our kind of game and not get involved
with their game."
Indeed, Rye played its game, and sent Chenango Forks'
unprecedented string of victories into the past tense.
•The Streak: Section 4-record 38 victories.
•First Win: 19-0 over Elmira Free Academy (Sept. 6, 2003).
•Final Win: 21-20 over Hornell (Nov. 19, 2005).
•The End: 28-7 loss to Rye (Nov. 27, 2005).
•Points Scored-Allowed: 1,267-281.
•Playoff Wins: 13.
•State Titles: Two.
To be the best, Rye beat the
By Rick Carpiniello
The Journal News (Westchester County)
SYRACUSE — This place known as the Carrier Dome had become "the
Pequod" for Rye coach Dino Garr and all the kids who had been
part of the football program, or who had brothers on the team,
Their Moby Dick was Chenango Forks, the great beast of high
school football in New York State.
OK, maybe that's silly symbolism and literary jibber jabber. But
make no mistake, Rye was consumed with chasing and beating
Chenango Forks — with taking down the reigning New York
powerhouse and its state-best 38-game winning streak — as much
as it was driven to win its own state championship.
Well, Rye harpooned and reeled in the big prize yesterday, and
really couldn't have done one without the other. The only way to
the first football state title in school history was through
Forks. That's the only way Rye would have wanted it.
See, Forks had it all. Two straight Class B championships and a
dynastic five straight trips to the state finals, including
yesterday's game. The Blue Devils had won 38 in a row — Dobbs
Ferry lost its 24-game winning streak Saturday, so the two
longest streaks in the state went down within 25 hours of one
another, and now Class D state champ Randolph has the longest at
"All those things," Garr, the 30-year coach, said. "Obviously
they beat us (twice) to be 38 in a row. Otherwise we'd be 38 in
"We beat the team that's beaten us twice and taken away our
chance to be state champions. What they've done is incredible —
incredible — and we're a part of that. So now we're part of the
other side, and it feels good."
The Garnets came here in 2003 with a senior-laden team and lost
a game that was closer than the 16-0 score. They somehow found
the gumption to go undefeated the next year all the way back to
the Dome, with a sophomore- and junior-laden team, and got wiped
out 48-0 by the Forks. And they dug even deeper to go undefeated
again all the way to this Forks in the road.
This time it was 28-7 Rye. This time the Garnets didn't leave
with the tears and pains of coming so close. This time Garr held
the state-shaped plaque over his head. This time the job got
"Oh, man," senior Tim Monaghan said. "I can't even describe
this. We've said it before: This year wouldn't have been
anything if we didn't win this game. We came here the past two
years, and we know what it's like to win semifinals, but we
wanted to win this.
"You always thought about it. We were all intimidated because
we'd never scored on this team, and they're a great program.
Year after year, they produce phenomenal athletes. But this was
just our year. We've had three years to kind of come up here and
get the feel for things. This year we weren't afraid at all. We
came up here confident. We knew we could do the job, and we just
played our hearts out."
He was asked if a state championship over another opponent would
have meant less.
"Yes," he said quickly. "Definitely. We were rooting for them
the whole time. The Hornell game (a 21-20 Forks semifinal
victory), we heard the score (updates) and we were rooting for
them. We wanted to play them again and get our revenge. It made
it more sweet."
That has been part of the weight Rye has had to bear since the
2003 final. Maybe some Rye players and/or coaches might have
been hoping Forks would go down before a third meeting.
"Some guys didn't really care, some did, but when we knew they
were in the semifinals and we were in the semifinals, we wanted
them to win," quarterback Jack Donnelly said. "We wanted to beat
them for the title. They're one of the best programs in the
state. We want to get to the point where we could have — like
them — that many consecutive wins, that many championships.
"For the past two years, even though we were so successful and
the teams were so great, it was still like, 'We lost to Forks.'
Or, especially last year, 'Forty-eight to nothing to Forks.'
That's what people remembered. Coming into this game, it was
like, 'Here we are again, senior year, playing Forks in the
Dome.' We had to win. We had to win. It's the greatest feeling
I've ever had."
As Garr said, if not for Forks, Rye would be Forks. The Garnets
are 36-2 the last three seasons, and it doesn't need to be noted
again where the two losses came from.
"Them beating us the last two years, we had to beat them this
year," said senior Alex Urso, whose brother Eddie starred for
the 2003 runners-up. "It's the best feeling beating a team that
whupped us the last two years. This is for the teams that failed
the last two years."
Chenango Forks coach Kelsey Green pointed out the other
similarity. His team had lost state finals in 2001 (14-7 to
Peru) and 2002 (22-21 to Rye's archrival, Harrison) before
getting back to the Dome for a third time and a charm of a
"Yeah, they're in the exact same spot we were," Green said. "We
had two seasons that we hadn't lost a game, and then we lost two
straight state finals. And we got back to the third one and
hadn't lost a game and we finally won that one. So maybe they'll
be back next year and the next year. It sure does take a lot (to
keep getting back)."
He praised Garr and the Rye kids for their resolve and
persistence. Garr had also been here in 1993, the first year of
the state playoffs, and lost 36-19 to Caledonia-Mumford.
Yesterday, John Nugent, who was Rye's head coach when Garr first
started out on the staff, made the trip from his Arizona home to
see the school finally break through.
Garr said that only the births of his daughters topped this. He
said the team started to think about being the Buffalo Bills or
the pre-championship Denver Broncos.
"All our teams carry a burden," Garr said.
This was a whale of a victory.