CV-CF matchup remains as intense as ever
Blue Devils ride 15-game winning streak in rivalry
By Mike Mangan
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
While the chase for Section 4 playoff berths has been priority No. 1 for both the Chenango Forks and Chenango Valley football teams this season, this weekend the teams' postseason aspirations will be placed on the backburner.
The two teams meet Saturday in a renewal of one of Section 4's most spirited -- albeit recently one-sided -- rivalries when Forks hosts CV in a 2:30 contest.
The Blue Devils have won the last 15 meetings between the two teams, including last year's 23-13 victory at CV. The Warriors' last victory over their neighbor came in 1994, a 14-13 victory.
Though this year's game is a rare non-league showdown with Forks moving down from Class B to Class C this season, there should be no lack of enthusiasm.
"It's a fun game for the kids, and for the communities," Forks coach Dave Hogan said. "The biggest difference is we're not in the same division anymore, but I don't think that takes anything away from the game."
Both teams enter Saturday's game in good form.
Forks (5-0), ranked second in the state in Class C by the New York State Sports Writers Association, leads Division V with a 4-0 record and appears a lock for a Section 4 Class C playoff spot.
The Blue Devils have outscored their opposition 153-9 this season and have allowed just one touchdown.
CV (3-2), meanwhile, has won two straight games and shares first-place in Division III with Norwich.
The Warriors, coming off a 26-6 victory over Windsor on Saturday, have allowed just 53 points over their last four games following a season-opening 33-21 loss to unbeaten Corning East.
"Our defense has made a lot of strides throughout the course of the year," CV coach Jay Hope said. "It's had a chance to jell quite a bit, I just think it took awhile to get everyone on the same page."
Both Hogan and Hope emphasized the importance of avoiding turnovers, always the wild card in swinging a game's outcome in a particular team's direction.
If turnovers are at a minimum, Saturday's game could come down to which team's offense proves most effective moving the ball.
Forks has thrived behind a running attack that averages more than 300 yards a game and features four backs with over 250 yards rushing, Jimmy Walker, Ryan Lusht, Tyler Lusht and Jordan Barnett.
Hogan believes the play of his team's offensive line -- tight ends Dan Grady and Mike Szymkowicz, tackles Erik Rhinehart and Andy Lewis, guards Adam Jeavons and Justin Flanney and Eddie Fisher, and center Jake DuBois -- has been the catalyst for his team's offensive success.
"I think our line is very sound, and I don't think they get enough credit," Hogan said. "They do a great job up front, as well as the guys behind them."
CV is led offensively by quarterback Ricky Ruffo, who has completed 56 percent of his passes for 488 yards and whose 203 rushing yards is second on the team behind Devin Carroll's 298. Cam Moochler has also contributed on the ground with 190 yards and four touchdowns.
Hope says the atmosphere around the locker room has been a little more subdued entering this year's game against Forks, which he says isn't necessarily a bad thing.
"They're looking forward to the game, but they haven't gotten too worked up over it," Hope said. "They've had an even keel going into this game, which I kind of like. It doesn't distract from their focus."