IN THE AIR — Rome Free Academy’s James McKeown jumps up to catch the ball in front of Proctor’s Quentin Reed in the third quarter of last Friday night’s Class AA-2 game at RFA Stadium. The Black Knights travel to West Genesee tonight. (Sentinel file photo by John Clifford)
Knights seek first win against once-beaten West Genesee
The Rome Free Academy football team concludes its league schedule with a game at 6 tonight in Camillus against West Genesee.
RFA is 0-6 overall, 0-4 in the Class AA-2. They take on the Wildcats, who are 3-1 in Class AA-2 and 5-1 overall. Their only loss was at home against undefeated Cicero-North Syracuse, 27-10 on Sept. 28.
Last year, RFA’s season ended with a 58-13 loss to West Genny.
In other games tonight, Vernon-Verona-Sherrill opens its revamped sports complex when it hosts crosstown rival Oneida at 7, while Camden visits Central Valley Academy at 7 in a pair of Class B East contests with league and Section III playoff implications.
On Saturday, South Lewis is at New York Mills at noon and Oriskany visits Pulaski in eight-man action.
Eleven-man games include Westmoreland at Dolgeville at 1:30 p.m. in a Class D West tilt, while a trio of Class C East battles have Clinton hosting Mount Markham at 1, Adirondack home against Notre Dame of Utica at 2 and undefeated Holland Patent entertaining Canastota at 6:30 p.m. at Whitesboro High School.
The Section III seeding meeting for 11-man football teams is scheduled Sunday.
Junior Chrisopher Orton leads the RFA quarterbacks in passing, with 34 completions for 423 yards and two touchdowns but six interceptions. Sophomore Riley Brawdy played the majority of the snaps last week, and has so far completed 19 passes for 266 yards, two scores and two interceptions. Senior Isaac Whishart, while primarily a running option, has thrown for 85 yards on eight completions with an interception.
Head coach Jake DerCola will go with Brawdy to start, he said. While Orton “could see some time, we’ll stick with him,” he said of Brawdy, who he noted had a good week of practice.
The most often used options through the air have been Anthony Cudhea (29 catches, 339 yards, one touchdown) and Cam Williams (19 catches, 256 yards, one score).
On the ground, Amir Williams has 346 yards and two touchdowns. Gary Kimball has 158 yards and two scores. Whishart has 105 yards on the ground.
“We definitely have to run the ball better to set up the passing game,” DerCola said. “We have to get them out of their comfort zone.” He added, “We have to make the big play.”
On defense, the linebackers have led the team in tackles all season. Shane O’Connell has 42, James Faso has 35 and Brennan Wells has 32. The team has six turnovers, one interception and five fumbles recovered.
“This team has a lot of seniors starting on both sides of the ball with a lot of experience,” DerCola noted. Offensively, “They’re not complicated but they have a good quarterback. We have to keep him contained and limit the big play. He’s pretty elusive.”
That quarterback is Tyler Cook, who is 57-for-106 this season for 959 yards, 11 touchdowns and two interceptions. On the ground, Exavier Brumfield has run for 413 yards and three scores and Brad May has 238 yards and two scores as the team leaders.
West Genny, coached by RFA graduate Joe Corley, has been known for its spread offense but has also adopted the pistol formation and traditional pro style packages as well. The Wildcats have had success with the run and the pass in 2018. Corley said,
“We try to be as 50-50 as we can. It’s week-to-week,” he said. To win this week, he said, “We need to control the line of scrimmage. What impressed me with Rome on film is they bring a lot of pressure.”
Defensively, West Genny has two top pass rushers with a combined 11 sacks — Cole Wade with six and Brendan Hammerle with five. The team is often in a 4-3 but can switch to a 3-4 without changing personnel, Corley noted. The key this week he said: “Stop the run first, control the line of scrimmage. They have playmakers as far as their wide receivers that we have to be aware of.”
RFA will have one or two crossover games after this week, DerCola said. That will all be decided after Sunday’s seeding meeting.
Class B playoff spots on line
Class B playoff spots are on the line tonight when VVS hosts Oneida and Camden travels to CVA.
A share of the Class B East championship could also be at stake when VVS plays its much-anticipated first football game on its new turf at Sheveron Stadium. The game will be televised live on Spectrum Cable on Channel 1/Spectrum News in the local viewing area.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled at 5 p.m. prior to kickoff. No admission is being charged as part of the stadium’s opening weekend activities. Temporary bleachers are being placed at the football field for tonight’s game, as a capacity crowd is expected.
Oneida and Cazenovia are tied for first place in the league with 5-1 records and have already clinched playoff spots along with Chittenango, which is 4-2 and has wins over VVS and Camden. Chittenango, coming off a 15-14 win over VVS, hosts Cazenovia tonight at 7.
VVS, 4-2 overall and in the Class B East, would qualify for sectionals with a home win over Oneida or a loss by Camden, and the Red Devils still have a chance to capture a share of the league title with a victory depending on the results of games involving other teams.
Or they would miss the playoffs altogether, if they lose to Oneida and Camden beats CVA. That’s because the Indians’ two losses came against Camden and Chittenango, meaning they would be the odd man out if any tiebreakers come into play involving those three teams.
The Red Devils find themselves in their precarious position following last Friday’s loss at Chittenango. The Bears came back from a 14-0 deficit for the win after VVS had taken an early lead on a pair of first-half rushing touchdowns by quarterback Alex Oliver from 49 and 61 yards out.
Oneida is also looking for a bounce-back win after going down to its first defeat of the season last Friday at home against defending league champion Cazenovia, 28-12.
Oneida took a 6-0 lead by scoring on the game’s first possession when quarterback Lukas Albro connected for a 26-yard touchdown pass Vincent Leibl before the Lakers scored the next four touchdowns to open up a 28-6 lead. Albro closed the scoring when he passed 9 yards to Ty D’Arcangelis for Oneida’s other touchdown.
Last year when the two teams met in Oneida in the rivalry game, VVS came away with a 19-14 victory.
Camden kept its playoff hopes alive with Saturday’s 34-8 homecoming win over Mexico. It was the third straight victory for the Blue Devils after they opened their season with three losses in a row.
CVA comes into tonight’s game with a 2-4 overall and league record and is coming off a 10-7 win over New Hartford last week.
HP looks to stay unbeaten
Holland Patent will try to close out the regular season with its perfect record intact when the 6-0 Golden Knights take on Class C East rival Canastota at Whitesboro High. It is a home game for HP, as its field is unavailable this fall due to extensive work being done on its field.
HP wrapped up the league crown last Saturday by steamrolling its way to a a 42-14 road win over previously undefeated Notre Dame High of Utica.
The Golden Knights improved to 5-0 in the league as quarterback Nick Herringshaw once again led the way, running for two touchdowns and passing for another and also pacing the defense with 8 1/2 tackles.
Canastota is 4-2 overall and 3-2 in the league following a 28-24 loss to Little Falls last week.
Clinton goes for second straight
Clinton will be looking to make it two straight wins when the Warriors host Mount Markham on Saturday afternoon in another Class C East contest. They got their first victory of the year last Friday when they prevailed on the road against winless Adirondack, 32-22.
Tanner Deveans returned as quarterback for Clinton after missing 2 1/2 games and passed for one touchdown to Powers Lynch and also ran for a pair of scores as the Warriors piled up 346 yards on the ground.
Clinton is 1-4 in the Class C East and 1-5 overall.
Tough task for Adirondack
Adirondack will try to get its first win of the season when it closes out its Class C East campaign at home against once-beaten Notre Dame.
In their loss to Clinton, the Wildcats got a pair of touchdowns from Branden Mooney on a 2-yard run and a 25-yard catch from Lance Allen.
Adirondack is 0-5 in Class C East play and 0-6 overall.