2013 Chenango Forks Varsity Football

Game 11 vs General Brown

Blue Devils tame Lions 35-19!
Advance to State Record 10th Final Four

Articles courtesy of the
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Syracuse Post-Standard  &
Watertown Daily Times

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to Game 12  - Cleveland Hill

Chenango Forks rolls past General Brown in state football quarterfinal

Kevin Stevens
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 record.

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 quarter-plus.

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 line.

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 big lead.”

“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 26th.

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,” Hogan said.

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 said.

Eight Forks rushers contributed to a 339-yard day compared to 146 for General Brown.

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 Wayland-Cohocton.

General Brown’s 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

John Day
Watertown Daily Times

ENDICOTT ­ Coaches often try to put their own spin on a tough loss, seeking to find as much positive as they can despite deep disappointment.

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 scrimmage.

"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.

"Offensively, it 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 was blocked.

"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 minutes.

"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 be back."

Chenango Forks rolls into semifinals with 35-18 win over General Brown

Donnie Webb
Syracuse Post-Standard

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 9-2.

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 fourth quarter.

"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. No doubt."

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."

01 02 03 04   Tot
Chenango Forks 7 21 7 0 - 35
General Brown 6 0 0 12 - 18
  • CF - Andrew Ziegenfus 6y pass from JC Sweeney (Tony Silvanic kick)
  • GB - Ryan Cumberbatch 19y pass from Evan Will (kick blocked)
  • CF - LJ Watson 40y run (Silvanic kick)
  • CF - Ziegenfus 28y pass from Sweeney (Silvanic kick)
  • CF - Zimmer 28y run (Silvanic kick)
  • CF - Watson 65y punt return (Silvanic kick)
  • GB - Jared Christopher 26y pass from Zach Pitre (pass failed)
  • GB - Joe Pitre 2y run (run failed)


  General Brown CF
First Downs 13 20
Rushes-Yards 36-146 48-339
Passing Yards 118 34
Comp-Att-Int 9-18-1 2-4-0
Total Offense 54-264 52-373
Punts-Ave yards 5-34.0 2-42.0
Fumbles-Lost 4-1 0-0
Penalties-Yards 4-40 4-37


General Brown rushing

  • Zach Pitre         16-90  
  • Evan Will           8-44
  • Joe Pitre           7-22   1 TD
  • Jared Christopher   4-(-4)
  • Ryan Cumberbatch    1-(-6)

Chenango Forks rushing

  • Isaiah Zimmer      29-189  1 TD
  • Ryan Bronson        5-52
  • LJ Watson           2-39   1 TD
  • JC Sweeney          5-39
  • Dylan Studer        2-7
  • Sean Miller         2-7
  • Gunnar Giordani     1-6
  • Alex Freije         2-0

General Brown passing

  • Zach Pitre, 1-for-1,  26y, 1 TD
  • Evan Will,  8-for-17, 92y, 1 int, 1 TD

Chenango Forks passing

  • JC Sweeney, 2-for-4, 34y, 2 TDs

General Brown receiving

  • Dylan Daghan      4-57
  • Jared Christopher 2-35   1 TD
  • Ryan Cumberbatch  2-22   1 TD
  • Joe Pitre         1-4

Chenango Forks receiving:  

  • Andrew Ziegenfus  2-34   2 TDs

Preview Article(s) 

Chenango Forks runs into familiar General Brown football team

Kevin Stevens
Press & Sun-Bulletin

For the third time in a five-season span it'll be Chenango Forks opposing General Brown in a Class C state football quarterfinal. Saturday's kickoff is scheduled for a noon start as the opener of a playoff tripleheader at Union-Endicott's Ty Cobb Stadium.
The Blue Devils will look to advance to the semifinal round for the 10th time in a 13-season span. General Brown — located in the Jefferson County village of Dexter — was state runner-up in 2010, the year of the program's second and most recent semifinal berth.
The Lions captured Section 3's championship with a 34-7 victory over Watertown IHC, avenging a two-point loss absorbed Oct. 18.
"Seems to be a typical General Brown team," said Blue Devils coach David Hogan. "They've been around for a while and winning championships up there for a while. They're pretty sound defensively, very well-coached. They always seem to have that tough running back and this team is no different."
Zech Pitre (6-1, 210) tops the rushing charts with 1,181 yards and 19 touchdowns. Quarterback Evan Will is No. 2 rusher with 453 yards, and he has completed 58 passes for 806 yards and five TDs.
"No. 30 (Pitre), he's a fullback, definitely hits the hole hard and he's pretty quick, too— he returns kicks for them," Hogan said. "He'll go around the end as well as up the middle."
"It's clearly a run-first team. They got in the 'Gun a little before halftime, but it's definitely a running team."
Pitre and fellow inside linebacker Rob Pickeral have caught the attention of Blue Devils coaches, as has Josh Totive, a 6-4, 315-pound sophomore who plays offensive guard and defensive tackle.
Isaiah Zimmer heads Forks' offense with 1,560 rushing yards, with Ryan Bronson next-best with 410 yards.
Defensive back Jack Sherwood played his first game without a bulky cast on wrist in last week's rout of Waverly, with noticeably upgraded results. And freshman L.J. Watson is expected to be eased back into the offensive backfield after being limited to defense only last week because of a lingering ankle ailment.
Ahead for the winner will be a semifinal against either Wayland-Cohocton or Cleveland Hill, noon next Saturday at Sahlen's Stadium in Rochester.

Class C - General Brown (9-1) vs. Chenango Forks (9-1)
Noon Saturday at Union-Endicott’s Ty Cobb Field

Donnie Webb
Syracuse Post-Standard

The lowdown: A half-dozen players from Section IV champion Chenango Forks left the Carrier Dome on Sunday afternoon, just before the end of General Brown’s 34-7 pay-back victory over Watertown IHC in the Section III title game. What the Blue Devils saw was a physical beat-down by the Lions on an IHC team that had beaten them, 28-26 in the final week of the regular season. While it’s doubtful that the Forks players were too intimidated, they had to see that the Lions can play tough, physical football.

The teams have a playoff history going back five years. They’ve met twice in state regional play, with Forks winning, 27-0, in 2009 at U-E and General Brown prevailing, 21-20, in 2010 on its way to an appearance in the Class C final, where the Lions lost to Bronxville.

One safe bet is that there’ll be a lot of action on the ground.

Chenango Forks, No. 3 in this week’s state rankings, is led by returning all-state running back Isaiah Zimmer, who ran for 219 yards and four touchdowns in the Blue Devils’ 49-15 blowout over Waverly in the Section IV final. Chenango Forks averages 42.8 points per game and surrenders just 11.3. The team’s only loss was 7-0 to Class D powerhouse Tioga, which plays Herkimer in a regional game Friday night.

General Brown, once again led by veteran coach Steve Fisher, is paced by the running of junior Zach Petrie, a 1,000-yard rusher who scored twice in Sunday’s sectional final.

Post-game Midweek Article(s):    

Fifth Quarter:

Published Tuesdays in the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin 

Forks' defense rests

Another dose of Grade-A defense was on display in Chenango Forks’ 35-18 Class C quarterfinal win over General Brown. The Blue Devils’ 35-6 lead to start the third quarter made it a combined 77-6 through three quarters in their last two games.

The secret?

“Mainly coaching, and just staying home and staying smart­ playing the way we always play,” said linebacker Hunter Luybli, selected the game’s most outstanding defensive player.

“As anybody who has followed us knows, we have some pretty tough kids on that defense­ and that’s an understatement,” coach David Hogan said. “We have some kids who are very tough and they play together as a team, they’re not individuals. If you’re going to try to come up in the middle, you’re going to have 3-4 pretty tough kids trying to drive you backward.”

And while quarterback John Colm Sweeney passed just four times, it was enough to put the threat in the minds of future opponents. Two of those passes went for touchdowns to Andrew Ziegenfus.

“We don’t throw a lot during the games but we certainly feel we can if we have to. We aren’t afraid to,” Hogan said. “We haven’t had to throw much this year because we’ve been fortunate to be able to run the ball the way we’ve been running it. But that is big, because they can’t put 11 guys on the line of scrimmage and if they do we are going to throw the ball and we feel pretty good about it."


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