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Coaches’ friendship mixes into Whitesboro-New Hartford football rivalry

Ben Birnell
Sports writer
email / twitter
Posted 9/29/22

Jim Kramer and Curtis Schmidt have a friendship that goes back a long time.  Kramer, the New Hartford football head coach, and Schmidt, the Whitesboro head coach, have known each other since playing …

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Coaches’ friendship mixes into Whitesboro-New Hartford football rivalry

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Jim Kramer and Curtis Schmidt have a friendship that goes back a long time. 

Kramer, the New Hartford football head coach, and Schmidt, the Whitesboro head coach, have known each other since playing football for Springfield College in Massachusetts. Kramer, an Oneida native, was an upperclassman while Schmidt, Whitesboro grad, was an underclassman at the time. 

You can bet there are stories between the longtime coaches. 

“When I was a sophomore, I went into his dorm room and he had legal pad paper all over – taped to his cabinets – and he was developing the offense at Oneida High School that year when his brother was quarterback,” said Schmidt, who took over Whitesboro head coaching duties in 2019 after being a longtime assistant in the program. “We’re great friends.”

With the pair leading high school football programs separated by about 7 ½ miles these days, Kramer and Schmidt have been in constant contact. They “bounce ideas” off each other.

“We talk all the time about different philosophies and how we run our programs,” said Kramer, who took over at New Hartford in 2017 after a stint as offensive coordinator at then-Utica College. “I think there are a lot of similarities as you look at the two teams.” 

There’s perhaps not as much talk this season with the teams – known as one of the classic rivalries in Section III – each in Class A. It ratchets up more with the teams meeting Friday.

“We’ve talked every week. But, not so much about each other’s team,” Schmidt said. “I know Jim’s teams are always well-coached and ready to go. We have a lot of respect for their staff.”

The Spartans (3-1 overall) and Warriors (3-1) are set to meet in a pivotal Class A game, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in New Hartford. The game is set to be on Spectrum News 1 in the area. 

“He’ll always be a close friend of mine,” Kramer said. “I think that’s what makes it even more fun for the rivalry.” 

The winner will have good footing for second place in Class A. Fayetteville-Manlius (4-0) is in first in Class A. 

For many years, New Hartford and Whitesboro were Class A National rivals and the teams met at least once in a season with the exception of 1995. Enrollment numbers and realignment played a role in limited meetings. Whitesboro has won at least the last five meetings dating back to 2013. The teams have met twice since 2016. 

That last meeting in 2021 was an overtime doozy. Whitesboro rallied from a 14-point third quarter deficit for a one-point win with help from an overtime TD scamper by then-freshman quarterback Kyle Meier.

“It is always going to be a heck of a game,” Schmidt said. “It doesn’t matter what people around town say. It doesn’t matter what the newspapers say. The kids have the final say. Everyone is going to play a little bit better that day.” 

This season, both teams are coming off lopsided wins over Syracuse-area teams.

Meier, now a junior, has been key for Whitesboro. He’s thrown for 404 yards and ran for more than 800. He has 19 total touchdowns, which leads Section III. 

The team does have some other options offensively, including junior Tony Dorozynski (three receiving touchdowns). 

“We both like to run the football. But we also both have the ability to throw the ball,” Schmidt said. “Offensively, we’re having more consistency.” 

New Hartford’s run game is led by standout senior Alex Collver, whose more than 600 rush yards are among the section leaders. Junior Cole Raux (six touchdowns) is also key.

Senior Dominic Ambrose has thrown three touchdowns and had a season-best 149 yards last week. 

Kramer notes that the Spartans have created more depth, which has made the team “more multi-dimensional.”

New Hartford’s defense has been solid in allowing just under 13 points per game. Sophomore Wilkenson Joseph and junior Tommy Vitagliano are key. 

Whitesboro has allowed more than 20 per game, but a high-scoring loss to Proctor plays a role. Whitesboro, with some young players on both sides of the ball, continues to improve, Schmidt said. 

“(Whitesboro) is playing really well right now,” Kramer said. “It is going to take our best effort.” 

C-2 teams to watch

Adirondack (3-0 overall) and Holland Patent (4-0 overall, 3-0 in C) are on impressive starts. 

Adirondack has a 34-point average margin of victory this season with an offense helped by seniors Colin White and Brett Sanford.

This week: a non-league game against Massena (1-2) at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Holland Patent hit the road for the first time last weekend and scored a win over Lowville. Seniors Jon Zylynski, Jordan Koenig and junior Nick Acevedo have contributed.

The Golden Knights play at 6 p.m. Saturday against Southern Hills (0-3). 

8-man showdown

West Canada Valley won Section III’s 8-man championship in fall 2021 while Frankfort-Schuyler didn’t play. 

Both teams enter the East Division clash at 3-0. The game is at 7 p.m. at Frankfort-Schuyler.

WCV senior Brayden Shepardson has more than 700 yards passing and 14 total TDs. 

F-S sophomore Martino Rocco has 12 total touchdowns.

Friday’s games

Class AA

Proctor (2-1) at Liverpool (1-2), 6 p.m.

Elmira at RFA (1-3), 6:30 p.m.

Class A

Whitesboro (3-1) at New Hartford (3-1), 6:30 p.m.

Class B

Indian River (4-0) at CVA (2-2), 6:30 p.m.

Class C

Notre Dame (1-2) at Bishop Ludden (2-1), 6:30 p.m.

Lowville (1-2) at VVS (2-2), 7 p.m.

Class D

Herkimer (1-3) at Mount Markham (3-1), 6:30 p.m.

Waterville (0-3) at Sherburne-Earlville (0-4), 6:30 p.m.

8-man

West Canada Valley (3-0) at Frankfort-Schuyler (3-0), 7 p.m.

Saturday’s games

Class C

Massena at Adirondack (3-0), 1 p.m.

General Brown (3-0) at Westmoreland/Oriskany (0-4), 1 p.m.

Clinton (1-3) at Cazenovia (3-0), 1:30 p.m.

Southern Hills (0-3) at Holland Patent (4-0), 6 p.m.

Email bbirnell@rnymedia.com

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