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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Miscues limit Rome Free Academy in setback to Liverpool; New Hartford, VVS among winners

Ben Birnell
Sports writer
email / twitter
Posted 10/22/22

The game seemed to snowball quickly for Rome Free Academy.  The Black Knights fumbled away the opening kickoff.

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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Miscues limit Rome Free Academy in setback to Liverpool; New Hartford, VVS among winners


ROME  — The game seemed to snowball quickly for Rome Free Academy. 

The Black Knights fumbled away the opening kickoff. The next drive resulted in a turnover. 

It didn’t get much easier from there for Rome Free Academy in the team’s Class AA regular-season finale against Liverpool. 

Meanwhile, Liverpool senior Jah’Deuir Reese found spots to evade and frustrate the Black Knights.

Reese ran for five touchdowns – all on big yardage runs – Liverpool accumulated more than 400 yards on the ground to cruise to a lopsided 49-14 win and spoil Senior Night at RFA Stadium. 

“We lost the momentum very early,” said RFA coach Jake DerCola, whose team had two turnovers and three punts before a late-first half touchdown. “There were a couple big mistakes we had. We had guys in the right spot. (Liverpool was able to make a play and unfortunately we stubbed our toe.” 

There were a plethora of penalties for both teams throughout the game. 

With the result, RFA finishes the regular-season 1-7 overall. The team is 1-5 in Class AA and is the sixth seed in the playoffs, which begin next week. Liverpool (2-5, 2-4) is the fifth seed.

DerCola was expecting RFA to get Baldwinsville – currently the No. 3 seed – in the playoffs. However, the result between Cicero-North Syracuse and RFA’s rival Proctor on Saturday afternoon factors into that possibility. 

Reese – who RFA planned for leading up to the game, Der Cola said – finished with 371 yards on 13 carries. He had touchdowns runs of 56, 65, 38 and 93 yards to help Liverpool lead 35-7. He capped his night with a 64-yard touchdown run on the opening play from scrimmage in the second half. He finished with 371 yards on 13 carries. 

Liverpool finished with 453 yards rushing among seven players as RFA’s defense continued to have troubles against opposing rushing offenses. 

“Our goal was to take (Reese) away the whole time, but he’s a very good runner,” DerCola said. “There’s a lot of plays we had him bottled him and missed tackle, missed tackle, missed tackle and then a huge gain. All week we practiced tackling. Sometimes it is the little things.”

There some a positive for RFA with the return of quarterback Evan Carlson-Stephenson, who returned to the lineup after being in concussion protocol. With help from a Liverpool facemasking penalty, RFA got good field position and the QB placed a solid ball in Jack Lawless’s hands in the back of the end zone for a 27-yard score late in the first half. 

He finished with 186 yards on 11-for-26 passing and two interceptions. Lawless had four catches for 93 yards. 

RFA got help from another Liverpool penalty on their second touchdown. Salvatore Martelli scored from eight yards out in the third quarter. 

RFA struggled to move the ball throughout the game, though, and finished with 246 yards.

“It is frustrating because as I told them, the plays are there, we just have to make them,” DerCola said. “We’re struggling right now to finish the plays.” 

New Hartford 25, Auburn 20

With help from the victory and a Corcoran loss to West Genesee on Friday, New Hartford earns the No. 4 in the Section III Class A playoffs and a home game.

New Hartford, which made it to the Section III Class B final last season, is 5-3 overall and 4-3 in Class A.

Junior Cole Raux played in a big role in Friday's victory to help New Hartford. Raux finished with a career-best 206 yards rushing on 25 carries.

He had three touchdowns, including two in the first quarter as the Spartans built a lead. New Hartford was without standout Alex Collver, who suffered an injury last week.

New Hartford led 19-6 at halftime with help from a Nick Perrota tackle for safety and a 33-yard field goal from Mateo Ripa. Perrotta had seven tackles in the game along with Tommy Vitagliano

Auburn didn't go quietly, getting a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to make it close.

Vernon-Verona-Sherrill 42, Southern Hills 13

The run game helped propel VVS in the Class C-2 win to earn a playoff spot.

With the result, VVS is 3-3 in C-2 games is the division’s fourth team in playoffs.

VVS ran for 369 yards with help from Tyler Wittman, James Wheeler IV and Matthew Rossi.

The Red Devils led 14-0 after one quarter with rushing touchdowns from Rossi and Wheeler. Rossi added a rushing TD in the second and caught a pass from James Ward in the third quarter to help VVS (4-4 overall) pull away.

Wittmann added a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns and led with 144 yards on 11 carries.

Wheeler finished with 15 carries for 142 yards. Rossi had 91 yards on 10 carries.

West Canada Valley 50, Sauquoit Valley 20

With help from the lopsided win, West Canada Valley finishes 6-1 in the 8-man East.

WCV could finish in first, depending on New York Mills' result on Saturday.

Brayden Shepardson had five total touchdowns, including four passing scores to help West Canada Valley.

He connected with Iain Farber and Camerohn Ludwig each for two touchdown catches.

The team also got touchdown runs from Josh Grabowski and Farber.

Andrew Price had a touchdown pass to Ethan Benn, who also had a touchdown run. Brendan Lee added a touchdown run for Sauquoit Valley (0-7).

Friday’s games

Class B

Camden 21, Central Valley Academy 0

Indian River 46, Oneida 22

Class D

Mt. Markham 39, Sherburne-Earlville 6

Cato-Meridian 56, Notre Dame 6

Little Falls 41, Herkimer 8


Thousand Islands 56, Frankfort-Schuyler 54

Saturday’s games

Class AA

Cicero-North Syracuse at Proctor, 1:30 p.m.

Class C

Skaneateles at Clinton, noon

Canastota at Cazenovia, 1:30 p.m.

Adirondack at Holland Patent, 6 p.m.

Class D

Waterville at Dolgeville, 1:30 p.m.


Weedsport at Morrisville-Eaton, noon

Cooperstown at New York Mills, noon


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