Running game, stingy defense lift Blue Devils
By Kevin Stevens
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
TOWN OF FENTON -- Make it 15
victories in succession for Chenango Forks over
Chenango Valley in this football rivalry that
has been tilted Forks' way from 1995 to the
Ah, but a new twist was
introduced Saturday afternoon at CV: It was the
Blond Devils of Chenango Forks extending the
streak with a 23-13 win that had Forks Football
stamped all over it.
Team-wide dye jobs
notwithstanding, this was old-school Forks
football -- zero passes thrown; a running game
that patiently ground out yardage, just waiting
for the big one to pop; and defense that let in
a single TD.
Quarterback D.J. Smith's 40-yard
quarterback keeper for a score 2:49 into the
final quarter -- four plays after a crushing
giveaway by CV -- and Dan Grady's PAT kick made
it a 23-6 ballgame.
A bit of drama was sprinkled back
in when Ricky Ruffo dashed 87 yards on the
ensuing kickoff for a TD. But Donnie Fry's kick
marked the final point in a game locked up for
good when Forks' Mike Jeske intercepted a
second-down pass at his team's 9-yard line and
returned 22 yards with two minutes to play and
CV out of timeouts.
The outcome left 10th-ranked
Forks a 6-1 record that includes 2-1 within
Division III of the Section 4 Football
Conference. A win next week at Windsor would
earn the Blue Devils the division's top seed for
Class B playoffs; a loss could prevent them from
Chenango Valley (3-4) fell from
playoff contention with a 1-3 division record.
"Our Time," as was painted onto
the grassy hillside adjacent to the playing
field, was not to be for the Warriors.
"We started off slow but
eventually got better," said Smith, who shares
time behind center with Rickey Bronson, each for
a possession at a time. Smith's game-leading 96
rushing yards reflected the TD run as well as an
early 42-yard gain that led to Grady's 30-yard
field goal for the first points of the contest.
"We just hung together and played
as a team throughout," said David Hogan,
experiencing his first Forks-Valley game as Blue
Devils head coach.
Chenango Valley took its only
lead midway through the second quarter when
southpaw Rocco Testani -- 10-for-21 for 102
yards on the day -- drifted left and delivered a
bull's-eye pass to Josh Klepfer behind a
defender in the left side of the end zone to
make it 6-3.
The result of the subsequent
kickoff left Forks in prime possession at CV's
Tim Zdimal fielded the kick and
returned to the Devils' 44-yard line -- where he
was run out of bounds. A CV cover man made
contact across the boundary line, though with
obvious intent to minimize said contact. A
penalty was assessed for a personal foul, to the
vocal chagrin of those with CV leanings.
Forks went on to nickel-and-dime
its way down the field. A 19-yard rush by Zdimal
-- shut down when Cameron Fedish made a saving
shirt tackle -- was the exception on a drive
that brought 2.1 yards per play on the remaining
Points came when Zdimal powered
over the left side with 1:08 left in the half,
and Grady's kick made it 10-6.
CV's first two second-half
possessions, each begun with a false-start
penalty, went three-and-out. The Blue Devils'
next scoring drive started 4:39 into the third
quarter, lasted 3:20 and brought a 5-yard
touchdown rush by Ryan Freije for a 16-6
On the scoring run, Freije
shouldered his way past a tackler near the line
of scrimmage, a recurring theme Saturday that
certainly factored into CV's downfall. On
numerous occasions, at least one CV defender had
opportunity to fell a ball carrier near or even
behind the line of scrimmage, only to lose
"We missed some tackles in some
key situations, but that's a tribute to their
athletes, too," CV coach Jay Hope said.
The clinching sequence took place
early in the fourth quarter. The Warriors' Cam
Moochler lost control of the football when hit
on a sweep play toward Forks' sideline, and the
Blue Devils took over at their 49.
One play after he'd rushed 6
yards for a first down to CV's 40, Smith kept
again, and the result put away realistic hopes
of a streak-buster. He ran through a
shirt-tackle attempt in the backfield, found
substantial room a bit across the line and
motored free and clear for the score and 23-6
The play had been designed to
head right. However, Smith said, "They started
shifting everyone, so I made to make a flip
call. I flipped it, made my read and busted
through the line."
Ruffo's kickoff-return response
was a beauty of a zigzagging effort on which he
won a closing footrace up the guests' sideline.
"I felt we had a chance to put
them away there at the end, get a nice kickoff
when we were up by (23-6). But we kicked off,
they turned it into a touchdown and, here we go
again. But the kids hung tough."
As for the shocking blonde dye
jobs, which became the Devils' look during the
week, defensive end Jesse Villella said simply,
"Last year we did the Mohawks. This year we
decided to do something a little bit different."