By John Schiano
It’s nearly 10 months later, but the start of the 2008 high school football season in New York is looking suspiciously like the conclusion to the 2007 campaign as several of the state’s powerhouse programs have opened in impressive fashion.
For instance, take a look at the reigning New York State Public High School Athletic Association champions: West Genesee (Class AA), Rochester Aquinas (Class A), Rye (B), Bishop Ludden (C) and Walton (D) are all out of the gate with 2-0 starts. Their average margin of victory? Try 38-10 on for size, with Walton pitching a pair of shutouts to lead the way.
And it’s largely the same story throughout the rest of the state. In the metro New York area, defending PSAL champion Staten Island Curtis has followed up its 13-0 season with a 2-0 start and Catholic High School Football League dynamo St. Anthony’s atoned for a 7-6 loss to potent St. Joseph Prep of Philadelphia in a rain storm with a 52-14 pounding of Delbarton, N.J.
On Long Island, 2007 bowl champions William Floyd, Islip and Amityville opened with wins, though East Islip fell to Lawrence, 33-13.
Do the early results mean we’re headed for a rerun in November’s respective championship games? Hardly, as several of New York’s finest might be living on borrowed time. Long Island Division III champion Islip opened by edging Deer Park, 7-6.
William Floyd, winner of 34 games in a row overall and their last 37 consecutively at home, had the misfortune of drawing a tough Lindenhurst team for its opener and limped away with a 14-12 victory after the Bulldogs drove 42 yards in the closing moments, only to fire four straight incomplete passes at the Floyd 15.
And in the Rochester area, four-time NYSPHSAA champion Aquinas, which suffered substantial graduation losses from its dominating defense, will face a significant obstacle in sectionals next month, with six former Class AA schools reclassified to Class A over the summer based on new enrollment figures.
More Football: Difficult Day for Elmira Notre Dame Coach
Football was a distant second for Elmira Notre Dame coach Mike D'Aloisio on Friday as he coached his team just hours after his mother, Josephine, died. Mike Huffner (15 carries, 110 yards) rushed for three TDs as Notre Dame downed Candor, 36-7.
"She wanted me to be here. She said to make sure I don't miss the game," D'Aloisio told The Star-Gazette. "She used to listen to the games on the radio. Tonight she's listening from heaven's gate."
Weekend Football Heroes
* Ethan Tilebein of Groton returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown and then added 19 carries for 178 yards and two more scores to help his team down Moravia, 42-19. Kyle Reed ran for 93 yards on just six carries and registered four sacks on defense.
* Aquinas senior Casey Vogl ran for 219 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries as the Little Irish overcame a 14-0 deficit and earned a 35-20 victory over St. Francis of Athol Springs. The Little Irish rushed for 144 yards in the fourth quarter.
In other Rochester-area action, Gates Chili staked a claim for a high ranking in Class AA by drubbing Fairport, 41-21, as Rickey Stevens started a 20-point first quarter with a 55-yard punt return. A week earlier, the Spartans tacked up 42 points in the second quarter to dominate Webster Thomas.
* Seniors Chris Lopez (16 carries, 180 yards) and Phil Boyar (20 carries, 150 yards) combined for five TDs as Pittsford rallied from a 14-0 deficit to beat Penfield, 46-21. The Panthers will host Gates Chili on Oct. 4 in a potential preview of the Section V large-school championship.
* In Section III, Greg Spears rushed 24 times for 247 yards and scored four times as Syracuse Henninger downed Fayetteville-Manlius, 38-27, with a 24-point fourth quarter. Spears scored on runs of 83 and 21 yards in the fourth period to complete the rally from a 20-14 deficit.
* Cazenovia, 22-2 since the start of the 2006 season and now safely tucked away in Class C after a pair of state Class B quarterfinals losses to Chenango Forks by margins of three and five points, routed Sauquoit Valley, 60-0, by piling up 483 yards of total offense. Quarterback Carter Franz went 4-for-5 for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
* Beaver River edged Bishop Grimes, 42-36, as Luke Turck scored four touchdowns, including the winner in overtime, and running backs Devin White (12 carries, 154 yards) and Omar Osbourne (10 carries, 93 yards) combined for five TDs as Bishop Ludden rolled past Lafayette, 50-6.
* In Section II, Tom Hammond's interception with 20 seconds remaining clinched Hudson Falls’ 14-13 triumph against Albany Academy. The Cadets pulled to within 14-13 with 2:17 to go, but Hudson Falls senior Joe Buonviaggio tipped the extra-point attempt and the ball fell under the crossbar.
* Steve Ciulla's 27-yard field goal with no time remaining gave Mechanicville a 3-0 win against Corinth. Ciulla's kick came after penalties for roughing the kicker and holding negated a pair of missed attempts.
* In the Buffalo area, defending Section VI Class A champion Orchard Park got 122 yards in the second half and 149 overall on the ground from Ohio State lacrosse recruit Jeff Tundo to turn back Jamestown, 25-0. But Lancaster, which was pointing to an Oct. 11 game at Orchard Park, stumbled and lost to Hamburg Frontier, 16-14, when John Ronayne kicked a 30-yard field goal with 1:11 left.
* On Staten Island, Billy Spinelli’s fumble recovery and 49-yard return for a TD on the game’s final play wrapped up Petrides’ first-ever PSAL triumph, 13-6, over Alfred E. Smith. The Panthers managed only 99 yards of total offense, but forced three fourth-quarter turnovers and six overall.
* Nick Finger carried 30 times for 337 yards and four touchdowns as Millbrook beat Spackenkill in Section IX Class C action, 44-27. The Blazers broke open a 24-20 game on TD runs of 10 and 46 yards in the third quarter by Finger. Millbrook's D.J. Cummings opened the game with an 84-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
* Donald Exner rushed 22 times for 258 yards and two TDs to lift Ellenville to a 34-8 victory over Tri-Valley. The Blue Devils ran 45 times for 461 yards, with Eric Thayer adding 10 carries for 105 yards.
* Mike Belluzzi ran 27 times for 197 yards and three TDs, and the John Jay defense held Ramapo to under 100 yards of total offense during a 28-0 victory. Ramapo was coming off an impressive 31-19 triumph against North Rockland in a mildly surprising Week 1 battle.
* On Long Island, Zach Crespo (20-for-29, 215 yards and four TDs) threw 20 yards to Kadeem Barnes for a touchdown in the third overtime, presenting Central Islip with a 34-26 win against Commack. Dondre Bailey recovered a fumble on Commack's ensuing possession to seal the victory.
* Jason Washington made two interceptions and seven tackles as Patchogue-Medford edged Brentwood, 21-14. His second pick went 35 yards for a touchdown and a 21-7 lead. Andrew Silva carried 19 times for 131 yards and a TD.
Cross Country: Short-Handed Fayetteville-Manlius Girls Dominate
With a meat grinder of a season still ahead, Bill Aris has no intention of wearing out his girls cross country team, ranked No. 1 in the nation two years in a row and absurdly loaded once again this fall. The Fayetteville-Manlius coach rested his top five runners on Saturday at the Chittenango Invitational and it didn’t matter.
The Hornets won the Girls Varsity 2 race with 31 points to 68 for Baldwinsville and 77 for Tully. F-M's Katie Sischo won in 19:10.9, followed by teammates Kristen Buchan and Alexandra Chapman.
Not to be outdone, the F-M boys ate only 47 points in holding off Baldwinsville (75). Junior Alex Hatz hit the tape in 15:50.9 to lead the way.
Speaking of doubling, the Burnt Hills boys swept the top four spots (Scott Maughan, Otis Ubriaco, Kent Harlow and Season Pezzulo) to highlight a boys/girls sweep at the Guilderland Invitational.
At the Elmira Invitational, Johnson City freshman Lauren Mullins set a course record of 19:35.9 to win by more than 42 seconds over Kate Rosette of team champion Corning. Mullins was ninth in the state in Class B as an eighth-grader.
Field Hockey: Daughter Defeats Mother
Jacquelyn Deppe picked up her first win as a varsity field hockey coach last week -- against her mother. The younger Deppe directed Bronxville to a 3-0 victory over Barb Deppe's John Jay squad. Jessica Muruer scored twice for the winners. The younger Deppe had played for her mother at John Jay.
John Schiano, who has written about high school sports in western and central New York for more than 25 years, covers New York for MaxPreps. He may be reached at email@example.com.