Chenango Forks rolls
past General Brown in state football quarterfinal
Press & Sun-Bulletin
ENDICOTT — A three-minute, three-touchdown spree in the
second quarter Saturday enabled Chenango Forks to take
control of General Brown on the way to a 35-18 win in
Saturday’s Class C state football quarterfinal.
Isaiah Zimmer rushed for 189
yards, John Colm Sweeney passed for two touchdowns to Andrew
Ziegenfus, and freshman L.J. Watson added another two scores
for the Blue Devils (10-1).
Third-ranked Forks will bring
a nine-game win steak into the semifinal against No. 4
Cleveland Hill, noon next Saturday at Sahlen’s Stadium in
Rochester. Sixth-ranked General Brown, which hails from the
Jefferson County village of Dexter, closed with a 9-2
Each side put on an
impressive drive capped by a touchdown pass in the opening
quarter — which closed with Forks ahead by 7-6 — before the
Blue Devils demonstrated clear superiority for the next
The first of those rapid-fire
touchdowns completed a nine-play, 78-yard drive that
included a pair of third-down conversions by Zmmer. The
score came on a spectacular 40-yard rush by Watson, who took
a toss left into initial running room. But converging
defenders prompted the youngster to cut deftly back and
eventually score on the right half of the field.
There was zero sign of a bum
ankle that’s hampered him in recent weeks.
“He’s a playmaker,” coach
David Hogan said. “He’s got that burst of speed, he’s got
the hips, he can make people miss. He’s a threat from
anywhere on the field. It’s good to work him in on offense a
little bit this week — well, a lotta bit.”
That score and Tony
Silvanic’s PAT kick left Forks a 14-6 advantage 95 seconds
into the second quarter.
Jack Sherwood recovered a
fumble three plays into the Lions’ next possession, setting
up Forks 28 yards from the guests’ goal line. On first down,
Sweeney found 6-foot-4 Ziegenfus defended by a smaller back
and wisely delivered so that the big guy could make the grab
and drag his opponent across the goal line. It was 21-6 with
1:48 of the quarter elapsed.
Two incomplete passes and a
2-yard rush were all General Brown could muster, and the
Lions punted to leave Forks the football at its 34-yard
Consecutive rushes of 17 and
21 yards by Zimmer and Ryan Bronson took the ball to the 28,
from which point Zimmer took a toss right, accelerated and
crashed through several defenders on his was to the end
zone. Silvanic’s kick made it 28-6 with 7:16 left in the
half, and General Brown’s balloon had clearly sprung a leak.
“We always talk about not
leaning over here,” said linebacker Hunter Luybli, named the
game’s most outstanding defensive player. “You could see
them leaning. We never stopped, that’s how we took such a
“I think when we scored our
fourth touchdown, that’s when they started to feel it a
little bit,” said Zimmer, who grabbed a share of the
program’s single-season touchdown record when he scored his
An unsportsmanlike conduct
penalty assessed General Brown on the third quarter’s first
play from scrimmage factored into yet another three-and-out,
and they punted from their 35.
Problem was, they punted to
Watson — who sprinted up the right side of the field to
complete a 65-yard return for a score 1:54 into the half.
That made it 35-6 and effectively locked up Forks’ third
semifinal appearance in a five-season stretch.
“L.J. had an excellent run
and we had a couple of nice blocks on that one that we’re
going to be looking forward Monday in the film session,”
Cody Lamond intercepted a
pass 20 yards into General Brown’s next possession, and all
the remained was for the Lions to put up a couple
fourth-quarter scores against Blue Devil reserves.
Sweeney turned in his latest
in a string of sound outings behind center, with some
effective first-half rushing to go with the two TD passes —
first of which was from 6 yards to an inexplicably open
Ziegenfus 4:04 into the contest.
“I think it definitely puts
them on their heels a little bit when we complete a few
passes for touchdowns. It really opens up the run game,” he
Eight Forks rushers
contributed to a 339-yard day compared to 146 for General
Cleveland Hill, winner of a
second straight Section 6 championship, will make the
program’s first semifinal start courtesy of a 46-20 win over
inconsequential fourth-quarter scores made for an outcome
that marks the tightest in Forks’ present win streak, during
which the Blue Devils have averaged 45.4 per game.
Chenango Forks outmuscles General Brown
Watertown Daily Times
often try to put their own spin on a tough loss,
seeking to find as much positive as they can despite
General Brown's Steve
Fisher has been around too long to dwell on moral
victories. Yet even the dean of north country
coaches told his team after Saturday's 35-18 loss to
Chenango Forks in the state Class C football
quarterfinals that they "deserved to feel good"
about what they accomplished this year and that such
a defeat "should stand as motivation for the
returning kids to get into the weight room and try
to be as strong as the team that beat you today."
The Section 4
champion Blue Devils (10-1) scored 28 points over
the second and third quarters to pull away after
General Brown had drawn within 7-6 with a late
first-quarter score. But even two late final period
scores by the Section 3 champion Lions (9-2) against
second-teamers couldn't hide the fact that they were
physically beaten on both sides of the line of
"They were stronger,
bigger and faster than us in all areas," said
General Brown co-captain Rob Pickeral. "You could
tell how much time they had spent in the weight
room. We just had too may low points today, and the
better team won."
Running back Isaiah
Zimmer ran for 178 yards on 29 carries, including a
28-yard touchdown run, to spark the powerful
Chenango Forks offense. Using a full-house backfield
most of the day, the Blue Devils ground out 337
yards on 51 attempts, nearly seven yards per carry.
starts up front. It's become cliche but it's so
true," said Chenango Forks coach Dave Hogan. "When
your line is dominating like we did today, it gives
your backs on offense and linebackers on defense so
much more freedom just to make plays."
And while Chenango
Forks generated huge chunks of yardage via the
ground, General Brown managed only 143 yards on 36
tries. Zech Pitre gained 92 yards on 16 carries, but
as Fisher said afterward, "we couldn't move the ball
consistently enough against their first team defense
when it really counted."
Chenango Forks took
the opening kickoff and drove 60 yards in nine plays
for an opening score. With the Lions' defense paying
so much attention to Zimmer, quarterback J.C.
Sweeney hit a wide-open Andrew Ziegenfus for a
6-yard score, and Joe Sylvain booted the PAT.
The Lions answered
immediately with their best drive of the game,
marching 69 yards in 12 plays. An Evan Will 22-yard
scramble set up Will's 19-yard touchdown pass to
Ryan Cumberbatch. However, Jacob Wojasinski's PAT
"We felt pretty good
at that point because I think we proved we could
move the ball," Pitre said. "Unfortunately, we kept
making little mistakes that really cost us."
L.J. Watson began the
Chenango Forks scoring parade by taking a pitch and
going 33 yards for an early second-quarter score.
And after Pitre fumbled, Sweeney and Ziegenfus
combined for a second score, a 26-yarder, and
Sylvain's third PAT suddenly increased the Forks
lead to 21-6.
General Brown punted
on its final two series of the opening half. Zimmer
tacked on a 28-yard TD scamper midway through the
period as the Blue Devils went to intermission
comfortably in front, 28-6.
"Against a team like
that who likes to control the ball, making first
downs is crucial and we didn't make enough," Fisher
said. "We didn't get 11 guys playing every play. And
our tackling was very poor most of the game."
Watson all but ended
any chances of a Lions' comeback by returning a
Derek Webb punt 68 yards for another score just two
minutes into the third quarter.
"Our special teams
were great today," Hogan said. "We have a lot of
respect for General Brown and coach Fisher, and we
knew they would never quit."
Pitre passed to Jared
Christopher for a 26-yard score with 5 1/2 minutes
left in the game. Joe Pitre scored the final General
Brown touchdown on a 2-yard run in the final two
"There's no doubt we
overachieved this season," Fisher said. "But these
kids should be very proud of what they did for
themselves, their school and their community. We'll
Endicott, NY -- Chenango Forks High School erupted for three
touchdowns in the second quarter and got a long punt return
in the third to roll over General Brown 35-18 on Saturday in
a Class C regional state football playoff game at
Union-Endicott High School.
The Lions, champions of Section III, finish their season
Chenango Forks advances to the state semifinals where it
will play Cleveland Hill on Saturday.
"You've got to play every play and we didn't do that," said
General Brown coach Steve Fisher. "We didn't get 11 guys
playing every play. They beat us up front."
Chenango Forks got two touchdown passes from quarterback
J.C. Sweeney to Andrew Ziegenfus. L.J. Watson had a
touchdown run of 39 yards, then returned a punt for 68 yards
and a touchdown in the third quarter. The other touchdown
came on a 28-yard run by Isiah Zimmer.
The Devils led 28-6 at halftime and 35-6 going into the
"I don't think it was one thing. I think it was multiple
things," said Chenango Forks coach Dave Hogan. "It's a total
team effort, right to our special teams. Defensively, we
played sound. Offensively, it starts up front. It's become
cliche but it's so true. I think we handled them up front.
Joe Pitre, Ryan Cumberbatch and Jared Christopher scored
touchdowns for General Brown.
"No matter what, our kids had a great year compared to what
people thought," Fisher said. "It was fabulous. We're proud
of them. We'll be back next year."