Elmira Notre Dame (6-2) would most certainly prefer to forget the past, with regard to its recent track record against Chenango Forks (7-1). During their five-season string of sectional championships, the Blue Devils have beaten Notre Dame five times by an aggregate 178-65.
This Notre Dame squad, however, has proven quite capable of point production. In its last five games, excluding a 9-6 loss at Owego, the Crusaders have outscored their opponents by 161-30. Notre Dame's Greg Schiefen has rushed for 845 yards, John Morrison has passed for 754, and Schiefen and Trevor Dougherty have combined for 741 receiving yards.
No Forks opponent has scored a third touchdown in a game this season, and Windsor's 12-point output last Saturday halted a streak of five weeks in which Blue Devils foes were limited to single-digit point totals.
Senior quarterback Bryan Lance has been exceptional of late running Forks' offense, and has become quite the individual force as well. In the Devils' last four games, Lance's average pass completion has gone for 22.8 yards, and he has rushed for 283 yards on a 6.7 per-carry average.
ND faces familiar nemesis Saturday
Crusaders play state power Chenango Forks on the road.
By Andrew Legare
There is little room for argument: Chenango Forks is the standard-bearer for Section 4 football.
The Blue Devils have played in the last five New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class B championship games, winning twice (2003 and 2004). As has been the case throughout this decade, Forks will be in the way for Notre Dame as the Crusaders chase a sectional championship. The teams meet at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Forks in a Section 4 Class B semifinal game.
"Going into the season our first goal was to make the playoffs and our second goal was to win the division," Notre Dame coach Mike D'Aloisio said. "We've done that and reevaluated our goals, and we want to win a sectional title now."
A sectional championship is something that has eluded Notre Dame since the 1998 team advanced to the Class C state championship game, where it lost in overtime. The Crusaders were moved up to Class B the next season.
Chenango Forks (7-1) has outscored Notre Dame (6-2) 178-65 in five wins during its string of sectional titles. D'Aloisio said his players are looking forward to facing Forks' powerhouse program.
"They know to be the best you have to play the best," D'Aloisio said. "And they want it. They want to go out and play against them. They're a well-coached, clean, hard-hitting football team. (Our players) like the challenge, and they'll go out there and do whatever they can to try to be successful."
Chenango Forks has won six straight since a 14-0 loss to unbeaten Corning East in Week 2, including last week's 31-12 win over previously unbeaten Windsor.
Notre Dame has been a solid offensive team this season, but the Crusaders have struggled against some of the tougher defenses they've faced. Notre Dame has scored 30 or more points four times, but the Crusaders have been held to a single touchdown in losses to Windsor and Owego. D'Aloisio said big, physical teams can cause problems for his relatively small team, though mistakes also hurt the Crusaders in those defeats.
Forks is the very definition of physical when it comes to Section 4 football, with that approach covering both offense and defense.
"They're strong in every facet of the game on both sides of the ball," D'Aloisio said. "We'll certainly have our hands full.
"You have to play 48 minutes of solid football and have it mistake free. That's the only way you're going to beat a Forks team right now. But we're capable of doing that."
Notre Dame is led by senior running back Greg Schiefen, who has run for 845 yards on just 99 carries this season. But Schiefen's pass catching is what separates him from other backs. He has caught 30 passes for 448 yards and four touchdowns. In addition, Trevor Dougherty has 14 catches for 293 yards and four scores.
John Morrison has been an effective passer for the Crusaders, with 47 completions in 77 attempts for 754 yards and eight touchdowns.