Chenango Forks Varsity Football
11 vs Cazenovia
defeat Caz 12-7!
Gain State Final Four berth
for record 7th straight time!
Articles courtesy of the
Binghamton Press &
Place mouse over photos to
Photo credits - none
Forks' defense shines
Blue Devils reach semifinals
By Kevin Stevens
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
BINGHAMTON -- Off to the Final Four of Class B state
football playoffs heads Chenango Forks, once again, this
time on the heels of sheer survival in the quarterfinal
This one, a 12-7 victory Saturday night over Cazenovia,
can be chalked up to taking care of offensive business
early, and thereafter to big-play defense and to
conditioning and to postseason know-how.
And certainly, factor in Blue Devil pride and subsequent
refusal to allow closure of a varsity football season
short of a 12th game for the first time since the
present seniors manned seats in a fifth-grade classroom.
It wasn't until Nolan Haycook sacked crazy-legs
Cazenovia quarterback Cole Koesterer for a 4-yard,
fourth-down loss on the frosted-over turf of Binghamton
Alumni Stadium with 58.2 seconds remaining that Forks
(11-0) had sealed its seventh consecutive semifinal
Next up comes Geneva -- a rematch of last year's
semifinal, just as the quarterfinal thriller was a
rematch with the Lakers. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m.
Saturday at PAETEC Park in Rochester.
The victory came despite pick-up of a single Forks first
down after halftime, and despite a stretch encompassing
the third quarter and early moments of the fourth in
which Cazenovia -- employing a hurry-up, spread offense
with Koesterer in shotgun formation -- ran 30 offensive
plays to the Blue Devils' five.
Forks' two-touchdown halftime advantage was constructed
via a 5-yard touchdown rush by Nick Stephens to cap a
64-yard, game-opening drive, and a crafty piece of work
from Clint Cade on the receiving end of a 26-yard
scoring pass from Jake Reynolds six plays into the
That lead was trimmed to 12-7 when Koesterer sneaked in
from the 1-yard line 84 seconds into the final quarter
and Nick Rogers tacked on the PAT conversion.
From that juncture, Forks' big-time plays were not of
the offensive variety.
A 40-yard kickoff return up the guests' sideline by
Shane Baron after Cazenovia's TD enabled Forks to set up
at the Lakers' 41-yard line.
Then, on Cazenovia's next possession, Clint Cade's
diving second-down tackle of Chris Nourse for a 2-yard
loss was followed by Baron, Haycook and Reynolds
converging on Chad Dorrance for a 3-yard loss on a
reverse, prompting Koesterer's quick-kick punt from his
Forks, however, punted the ball right back, and
Cazenovia took possession at the Blue Devils' 47 with
1:55 to play.
Three plays advanced the ball to the 33. But then came
Jud DuBois with a sack for a 6-yard loss after Koesterer
spent too many seconds in the backfield searching for a
The Lakers' last chance came on fourth-and-13 from the
37. Again, Koesterer accepted the snap 6 or so yards
behind center and gave a lengthy survey of an uninviting
secondary before Haycook took him to the turf.
Drive-snuffing third-quarter sacks were registered by
Cade, on fourth down after Cazenovia had reached Forks'
17-yard line, and by Aaron Phelps to force a punt.
Cazenovia (10-1) turned to its hurry-up spread for good
on its first second-quarter possession, and didn't
deviate thereafter. Just how, defenders were asked, was
Forks able to prevent the Lakers from crossing the goal
line more than just once?
"It was crazy. It was hard to keep up with that
quarterback," Cade said. "He'd go in-out, left-right,
back-up and then run. It was hard to keep up with him."
"It was real tough because they have so much team
speed," DuBois said. "I didn't know (Koesterer) was that
fast, but when he busts outside there's no way you're
going to catch him -- no way I'm going to catch him,
Blue Devils coach Kelsey Green said, "With a kid who can
throw it like he can and run it like he can, boy, does
that put pressure on you. But our kids were up to that.
... We always like to say we're in pretty good shape,
but we were breathing heavy by the end of the game. But
we're in shape, we do our work prior to the season and
we do our work during the season."
Key in Forks taking a 12-0 lead into halftime was
quarterback Reynolds' 4-for-4, 82-yard efficiency.
The first TD drive was helped along by a 36-yard
completion to Garret Cade, who made the reception
despite being grabbed by a defender.
The 26-yard TD reception by Clint Cade was a work of
catch-and-run art. He made the grab at the 13 with a
head of steam toward the sideline, absorbed a hit and
somehow managed to stay inbounds and turn up-field and
get into the end zone.
"We made some nice offensive plays in the beginning, and
then we just got shut down -- which, I was afraid that
could have happened the whole ballgame because they are
that good on defense," Green said. "They're all over
you, fast and physical.
"But, our defense isn't bad, either."
Same bitter pill for Caz
By Neil Kerr
Despite a furious fourth-quarter comeback bid, Section
III Class B football champion Cazenovia (10-1) saw its
season end in state quarterfinal play for the second
straight season. And it was Section IV's Chenango Forks
that again stymied the Lakers, hanging on for a 12-7
victory at Binghamton Alumni Stadium.
A season ago, coach Tom Neidl's squad lost to the Blue
Devils 3-0 on the same weekend.
Chenango Forks, ranked second in the state, built a 12-0
lead in the first half, then held off a fourth-period
rally by the Lakers and advanced to next week's final
four for the seventh straight year.
The Blue Devils quickly marched downfield early in the
opening quarter and took a 6-0 lead when senior fullback
Nick Stephens scored from five yards out.
In the second quarter, Blue Devils quarterback Jake
Reynolds led Chenango Forks to its second score,
connecting with wide receiver Garret Cade for a 26-yard
TD. That gave Forks a 12-0 halftime lead.
After being shut out for three periods, Cazenovia
trimmed the Blue Devils' lead to 12-7 when senior
quarterback Cole Koesterer dove the final yard for a
touchdown to end the only Lakers' scoring drive of the
game. Nick Rogers then kicked the last extra point of
With time running down, Cazenovia regained possession
deep in its territory for one final drive. Forks'
225-pound senior defensive lineman Nolan Haycook sacked
Cazenovia QB Koesterer on 4th-and-long with 58 seconds
With the win, Chenango Forks advances to Rochester's
PAETEC Park for a repeat semifinal matchup with
defending state champion Geneva (9-2) at 3 p.m.
Geneva (Section V) ended Forks' season last year with a
26-21 win in the state semifinals. The other state Class
B semifinal will pair Peru (11-0) of Section VII with
Rye (10-0) of Section I at 4 p.m. Saturday at Dietz
Stadium in Kingston.
Lakers’ football season ended by Forks again
Written by: Phil Blackwell, Sports Editor
Cazenovia football head coach Tom Neidl made it
very clear that the difference between his squad
and Chenango Forks in last Saturday night’s
Class B regional final was quite thin.
“We needed one more big play,” he said. “And we
didn’t get it.”
Since that didn’t take place, the Lakers’ season
again ended at the Blue Devils’ hands, a 12-7
defeat at Binghamton’s Alumni Stadium that
marked the seventh year in a row where Forks
prevailed in this round against the Section III
Unlike the rain-soaked 3-0 loss sustained in the
2006 regional final, Cazenovia did not have to
worry about precipitation on a cold, clear night
where temperatures plunged into the 20s.
Instead, the primary concern was going up
against Forks’ well-regarded defense, which had
blanked the Lakers the year before (aided in no
small part by the rain), and possesses a potent
combination of speed and physical play that most
teams cannot handle.
Immediately, Forks allowed that defense to play
with the lead, taking the opening kickoff and
going 64 yards against Cazenovia’s own vaunted
defense. The big play, a 36-yard pass from Jake
Reynolds to Garret Cade, set up Nick Stephens’
five-yard touchdown run.
Starting out in its conventional set, the Lakers
could get nothing going in either of its first
two series. Significantly, the option to
tailback Chris Nourse that worked so well in the
sectional Class B final against Westhill was
shut down as Forks defenders quickly clogged up
any possible lanes.
Mixing up power runs with play-action passes,
Reynolds again moved the Blue Devils down the
field on its third possession, a 69-yard march
that stretched into the second quarter. From the
Lakers’ 26, Reynolds found Clint Cade over the
middle at the 13, and Cade ran over a tackle and
drove down the sideline to the end zone.
Now down 12-0, the Lakers switched to the spread
no-huddle offense, just as it had done when it
fell behind Solvay in the sectional Class B
semifinals. In theory, it would give Koesterer
more time to throw and more passing options,
But Forks had a ready answer. It allowed
Koesterer to throw to the wing for short gains
as Nick Dougherty and Chad Dorrance caught most
of those passes – but it blanketed the downfield
receivers, as Ben Dewan and Aaron Race never
seemed to get open.
Thus, for the rest of the game, Koesterer would
stand in the pocket for long periods of time,
then be forced to scramble when pass protection
broke down. Forks’ ability to neutralize this
downfield threat would keep the game 12-0 until
Cazenovia’s frustration continued to build in a
third quarter it would mostly dominate. Twice,
it drove deep into Forks territory, only to have
a fourth-down sack at the 20-yard line end one
drive and a holding penalty halt the other.
While all this was going on, the Lakers’ defense
had settled down – and clamped down, negating
the Blue Devils’ trademark power running attack
and even earning an interception when Reynolds
tried one deep throw – and watched Nourse pick
That turnover set up the Lakers to get on the
board. Twice on that 67-yard march, Koesterer
made fourth-down conversions by running the
ball, and it culminated when the senior
quarterback scored on a one-yard plunge with
10:28 to play.
Again, the Lakers’ defense stepped up, earning
two more stops in the fourth quarter to keep
Forks from any chance at gobbling up the clock.
Still, at TD was needed, and the Lakers twice
had great chances to win. On the first try, it
moved to the Blue Devils’ 35 midway through the
period, only to be stopped, and got one more
chance when it took the ball at Forks’ 47-yard
line with 1:55 to play.
With everyone in the stands standing and
screaming amid the chill, Koesterer drove
Cazenovia to the Blue Devils’ 33 and still had
two time-outs left.
Then came a play that symbolized the night.
Again, Koesterer went back to throw and had all
kinds of time, but no one was even close to
open. Before he could take off,
Koesterer got caught, as Forks linebacker Jed
DuBois sacked him.
Forced to spike the ball and stop the clock, the
Lakers also got little on third down. And on
fourth-and-14, with the season on the line,
Nolan Haycook got to Koesterer and sacked him
one more time, punching Forks’ ticket to this
weekend’s state semifinal against defending
When it was done, Neidl told all his players to
keep their heads high, that their effort had
been exemplary against the state’s best Class B
program of the new millennium.
Plus, it’s hard to find fault with a 10-1 season
that included another sectional title and high
accolades from all that saw the Lakers in
Now comes the departure of an extraordinary
senior class. Koesterer, Nourse, Dewan, Race,
Artie Bigsby, Connor Ryan, Lee Namy, Marcus
Schokker, A.J. Berry, Patrick Roszel and Nick
Rogers all helped Cazenovia win back-to-back
sectional titles and dominate all local
opposition. Doing so again in 2008 might prove
far more challenging.
You can listen to Phil Blackwell, Eagle
Newspapers' sports editor, at 10 a.m. every
Saturday on WHEN, AM620
Three Move On
Posted by pblackwe November 11, 2007 7:59PM
of Chenango Forks are less pleasant.
When Forks began its amazing run of
semifinal appearances in 2001, it
beat the Lakers to kick it off. It
kept that regional streak alive half
a decade later in a 3-0 reunion
against the Lakers amid that
Biblical downpour. And now the Blue
Devils' streak is at seven, despite
the Cazenovia's all-out effort on a
bitterly cold Saturday night in
Bolting out in front 12-0, Forks
forced the Lakers into its no-huddle
spread offense by the second
quarter, and Coleman Koesterer had
to run for his life often to keep
his team alive. Yet he led a
second-half scoring drive and had
the Lakers in Blue Devil territory
twice in the late stages with a
chance to win it.
Both times, the
Forks defense shut Cazenovia down,
mainly by blanketing Koesterer's
receivers. Thus, Koesterer had lots
of time in the pocket, but nothing
to do - and when the pass protection
broke down, he got sacked twice on
the final drive. Tom Neidl said one
more big play would have done it -
but it never materialized.
Forks' 12-7 win
ended Cazenovia's run, and it will
be tough for them to replace great
seniors like Koesterer, Chris Nourse
and Artie Bigsby. And they'll watch
as Forks and Geneva stage a rematch
of last year's riveting semifinal
that Geneva won on the way to a
Place mouse over photos to
Photo credits - None
- CF - Nick Stephens 5 run (Kick failed).
- CF - Clint Cade 26 pass from Jake Reynolds (Pass
- C - Cole Koesterer 1 run (Nick Rogers kick).
- Cole Koesterer 28-83, 1 TD
- Chris Nourse 12-33
- Chad Dorrance 2-5
- Tom Groetz 2-2
- Joe Aston 12-36
- Jake Reynolds 14-36
- Nick Stephens 8-26, 1 TD
- Tim Zdimal 5-8
- Cole Koesterer 9-for-15, 59y, 0 int.
- Tom Groetz 1-for-1, 6y, 0 int.
- Jake Reynolds 4-for-6, 82y, 1 int.
- Ben Dewan 3-27
- Sean Dougherty 3-25
- Chad Dorrance 3-14
- Chris Nourse 1-(-1)
- Garret Cade 1-36
- Clint Cade 2-33, 1 TD
- Nick Stephens 1-13
Forks looks to get past stout Cazenovia defense
By Kevin Stevens
Press & Sun-Bulletin
Chenango Forks will seek a seventh consecutive berth in the Final Four of Class B state football playoffs beginning at 7 tonight, when Cazenovia will be the opponent for a quarterfinal at Binghamton Alumni Stadium.
The second-ranked Blue Devils (10-0) did not allow an offensive touchdown in either of their Section 4 playoff games. Third-ranked Cazenovia (10-0) features a first-unit defense that had surrendered three touchdowns in the 20 games preceding last week's 44-34 shootout with Westhill.
A year ago in a driving rain at Cicero-North Syracuse, Forks slipped past Cazenovia 3-0, picking up a mere nine first downs and failing to complete a pass along the way.
"They haven't changed a whole lot in terms of what they do, and neither have we," Blue Devils coach Kelsey Green said. "They're not exceptionally big, but they've got great team speed. Until (the Westhill game), they'd been playing defense pretty much the same way they played last year -- which is giving up nothing."
The Lakers play ultra-aggressive defense out of a 4-3 alignment, with 6-foot, 208-pound Artie Bigsby the acknowledged band leader at middle linebacker. Seven points per game against Cazenovia reserves is all that was mustered through the Lakers' first nine games of 2007.
"Their guys don't stay blocked," Green said. "They're doing something right with their pursuit and their gang-tackling. Hopefully, we have to make them pay once in a while being up there on the line of scrimmage.
"If we get that crease and get somebody on that one player who's not playing his responsibility, we can get that big play."
A key element in Forks' offense, senior halfback and rushing leading Joe Aston, sustained an ankle injury last weekend against Chenango Valley that kept him out of the backfield for the bulk of the second half. In fact, a combination of soreness and illness left the Blue Devils with 26 of their 34 players available for duty at an early-week practice.
While most of those affected are expected to be ready for action tonight, Green said, "We have our fingers crossed with Joe."
The Blue Devils would very much like to continue a pattern that has seen them strike for touchdowns of 60 or more yards on their opening possession each of the last two games. This time out, success in the passing game triggered by quarterback Jake Reynolds would also figure to be necessary. And when he looks to pass, 6-foot-4 Garret Cade is frequently in his viewfinder.
When Cazenovia has the football, Forks will be mindful of running back Chris Nourse, who eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the season with a 281-yard effort against Westhill. Quarterback Cole Koesterer is a holdover from last year, and has passed for four digits worth of yardage this season.
A new wrinkle for the Lakers this season, from what Green and staff have observed, is Koesterer working on occasion from shotgun formation with receivers spread about.
"I don't think we want to get into a track meet with these guys," Green said.
It'll be the third Forks-Cazenovia matchup, all three in the state quarterfinal round. The Blue Devils won by 27-7 in 2001, the season the program's remarkable 82-5 run started rolling.
Tonight's winner will move on to a semifinal Saturday at Paetec Park in Rochester, against either Depew or Geneva.
Cazenovia looking for revenge
Section III champion faces Chenango Forks in the state football playoffs
By Neil Kerr
After winning a second straight Section III Class B football title Saturday with a 44-34 victory over formerly unbeaten Westhill, Cazenovia (10-0) will tackle Section IV champion Chenango Forks (10-0) in a state quarterfinal contest. Game time is 7 p.m. Saturday at Binghamton High School.
A year ago, playing in a driving rainstorm at Cicero-North Syracuse, Cazenovia dropped a 3-0 decision to coach Kelsey Green's Chenango Forks team, which went on to finish second in the state tournament to Geneva.
The rain obviously hampered both teams, but Cazenovia coach Tom Neidl later stated he thought the weather conditions were more harmful to his Lakers than to the Blue Devils. That's because the 2006 Cazenovia team relied on its quickness, while Chenango Forks is traditionally a straight-ahead power football team.
"I never make excuses for a loss, but the rain during our Chenango Forks' game took away a lot of what we like to do, offensively," said Neidl when the game was over. "That's not meant to disrespect Chenango Forks, but I just think we could have done better under decent playing conditions."
Class B: Cazenovia-III (10-0) vs. Chenango Forks-IV (10-0)
When: 7 p.m. Saturday at Binghamton Alumni Stadium
Cazenovia key players: Cole Koesterer, QB-DB; Chris Nourse, RB-DB; Ben Dewan, WR-DB; Art Bigsby, TE-LB; Chad Dorrance, RB-LB; Lee Namy, OL-DL; A.J. Berry, OL-DL; Nick Rogers, WR-DB-kicker; Aaron Race, WR-DB; Mike McGinnis, RB-LB; Marcus Schokker, OL-DL; Connor Ryan, OL-DL.
Chenango Forks key players: Garret Cade, WR-DB; Joe Aston, RB-LB; Jake Reynolds, QB-LB; Nick Stephens, Noah Davis, OL-DL; Tom Voorhis, DL; Clint Cade, WR-DE; Jud Dubois, OL-DL; Nolan Haycook, DL; Aaron Phelps, OL-DL; Max Ginty, DE.
The skinny: Tailback Chris Nourse and quarterback Cole Koesterer led Cazenovia to a repeat as sectional Class B champion with a 44-34 win over Westhill. Both have gone over the 1,000-yard plateau for the season. Saturday, the Lakers bid to atone for a 3-0 loss to Chenango Forks a year ago this weekend. To do so, the powerful Cazenovia defense, featuring all-state linebacker Art Bigsby, may need to turn in its best performance of the season.
Chenango Forks, 82-5 in its last 87 games, prefers to run the ball straight up the field, using a small corps of ballcarriers. Senior TB Joe Aston (124-906) leads the Blue Devils' power game. Aston is backed by the efforts of 190-pound fullback Nick Stephens and 185-pound halfback Max Ginty. Senior QB Jake Reynolds has completed 25-of-49 passes for 498 yards on a team that throws sparingly, but effectively.
Kerr's pick: Cazenovia 28, Chenango Forks 26
Published Tuesdays in the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
Forks changes direction with Aston unable to carry load
By Kevin Stevens
Press & Sun-Bulletin
One might argue, given the quality of opponent coupled with the sub-par physical status of one key component, that Chenango Forks' most recent football victory was among the most impressive of the program's 83 collected from 2001 to the present.
The second-ranked Blue Devils dealt third-ranked Cazenovia its second loss in as many seasons, 12-7, in a Class B state quarterfinal, heading off a Saturday sweep by Section 3 squads visiting Binghamton Alumni Stadium.
It was a victory logged despite Blue Devils rushing leader Joe Aston playing at far less than full strength because of an ankle sprain that kept him off the practice field all week but for a Thursday test-run. The injury was sustained the week before against Chenango Valley.
A 5-foot-10, 189-pound senior, Aston contributed 12 carries to Forks' cause, but the resulting average of 3 yards per carry was far short of his season-long norm.
Enter quarterback Jake Reynolds, called upon to utilize the forward pass four times before halftime -- perfectly trigger-happy by Forks' ordinarily conservative standards.
Reynolds -- with aid of sound protection -- answered the call by turning those four throws into four completions worth 82 yards, one touchdown and another TD table-setter.
"There's no way we're going to take the football and put 15-play drives on them, especially with Joey on one leg," Blue Devils coach Kelsey Green said of a Grade-A Lakers defense. "Joey's been our breakaway, crease, extra 5-, 6-, 10-yard carrier all year. He gutted it out, played tough football and he had some good carries, but he wasn't Joey. He wasn't even half of Joey.
"So, it did come down to other people. A lot of them are the unsung heroes, the offensive line. And Jake and the Cade boys, it's nice to have them with you."
Garret Cade made the first reception of the ballgame, a 36-yarder to the Lakers' 16-yard line on the fifth play from scrimmage, despite a pass-interference penalty that was declined. Forks' first touchdown came five plays later.
Clint Cade accounted for the second TD on a 26-yard reception six plays into the second quarter, his second reception in a three-play span.
The 12-0 lead prompted Cazenovia to scrap its customary offensive scheme in favor of a no-huddle spread look with QB Cole Koesterer operating exclusively from the shotgun. The same squad that mustered seven points against Forks had hung 44 on Westhill the week before in Section 3's title game.
"Our coverage in the secondary shut them down, allowed the line to work and get to that quarterback," Forks lineman Jud DuBois said of the difference-making defense.