Playoffs! | Syracusefan.com

Playoffs!

SWC75

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Every year at this time in football there is a crescendo of on the field drama that lasts now more than three months, (with one missing link). It starts with the high school playoffs, (first Section III, then the state championships). Then comes the small college playoffs- the NAIA, NCAA Division III, Division II and Division 1AA, (FCS). Then comes the NFL playoffs, leading to the Super Bowl. The one missing link is the NCAA Division I, (FBS), which essentially has a two team playoff for a decision with 120 schools in it, with obvious contenders left out every year. Maybe after all this conference realignment, the powers that be will fix that. In the meantime we have seven other championship tournaments to look forward to.

I’ve always liked tournaments. Two teams meet then two other teams meet and then the winners pair off, each subsequent game a battle of winners. The eventual winner isn’t always the best team, (see the NCAA basketball tournament last year), but they are the champions and have proven it on the field. You either are the best team or you won the tournament that included all the best teams. There’s never any controversy- unless, as in FBS, the tournament is too small and leaves out obvious contenders.

SECTION III

Section III of New York State basically covers Central New York. There are five classifications based on enrollment: AA for the largest schools, then A, B, C and D. Some schools are “borderline schools” that switch from classification to classification as their enrollment or the statistical standard changes. In rare cases, schools are promoted beyond their enrollment, usually because they are private schools with no boundaries such a public school system would have, and can draw students, (and elite players) from all over. The local example of that is Christian Brothers Academy, (CBA), which, by enrollment would be in Class C and was there at one time but so dominated that class, then Class B, then Class A that they now play in Class AA and have won the state championship at that level.

This is a pet peeve of mine. The strength of high school programs is largely based on having youth programs that feed into the varsity, good facilities and the quality of coaching. It may be an advantage to have a greater enrollment to draw players from but if the extra students aren’t good players, what good does it do you? High school ball used to be organized in geographical conferences with natural rivalries. Schools who fell behind their rivals would either build up the youth programs, facilities and coaching or they would seek another conference with lesser rivals. Presently they are thrown in together with similarly sized schools that may be some distance away and expected to compete with them just because they have a similar number of students.

There is also the problem that schools who have hopes of making the playoffs and maybe going onto the states can get their players to commit to preparing for the football season during the summer while those that don’t can’t and their kids take summer jobs to make some spending money instead. Then those schools hastily organize teams as the season is about to begin, with predictably dire results when they play the schools with good teams. High school games used to have 28-14 type scores. If a team won a game by 30 or 40 points, it was big news, an awesome display. Now, as you look at the box scores each week you can see multiple games with 40-0 or 50-0 type halftime scores. Some of these teams could score 100 points if they wanted to. What kind of educational experience is that- for the players on either team? Some schools simply give up on the season before it’s done because their players are tired of the physical and emotional beatings they keep taking.

Finally, with five divisions, we have the same problem boxing has with it’s split divisions and multiple sanctioning organizations- fiefdoms. Boxers with the WBO super-middleweight title have no motivation for fighting the WBA super-middleweight champion because they are already a “champion” and can retain it just by fighting the tomato cans the WBO fills their “top ten” with rather than risking their title against somebody who might actually beat them. There’s nothing so greedy involved with high school ball but the fact is, there aren’t really five levels of football quality in high school football.

Before the current classification system, there used to be a concept of simply “Big Schools”, (basically the Onondaga County League North- where most of the population is, the CNY Cities League and the Central Oneida League for the Utica area schools), and the “Small Schools” (Mostly the Onondaga County League South, at least in the Syracuse area). I always thought that worked pretty well. The small schools basically equated to classes B,C and D. The big schools were classes A and AA. Looking at the sectional results over the years, I see that Onondaga in the Mike Hart years won state titles in Class D, then Class C, then Class D again. They won by bigger margins in Class C than they did in Class D. Dolgeville has won 12 Class D Sectional titles and three in Class C. They even beat CBA for the Class C title in 1995. Cazenovia, a perennial Class B power, won titles there in 2006 and 2007, then moved down to Class C in 2008 and 2009 and couldn’t win there.

There was no Class AA until 1983. Cortland and East Syracuse-Minoa, former CNY Cities League and Onondaga County league North teams now in Class A, both made the original Class A playoffs. When the state playoffs began in 1993 with no Class AA, the section had to choose a team and sent the Class AA champs to the states. The next year they abandoned Class AA for two years until the State created the class so the Class A schools would have a chance to make the states. They didn’t but the playoff scores were close. Liverpool beat Whitesboro 21-14. Henninger beat Fulton 20-12. Whitesboro used to be Class AA Rome Free Academy’s biggest rival. I just don’t see a lot of difference between the level of completion in Classes AA and A or in B, C and D. The Dolgevilles, Onondagas and General Browns should be competing with class B powers like Cazenovia, Westhill and Oneida ESM and Whitesboro should be taking on teams like Baldwinsville, CBA and West Genesee. By separating them, you break of rivalries and have them playing too many inferior opponents.

What I’d like to see is three divisions: Class A, corresponding to the current Classes AA and A, Class B, with the most successful schools from the current Classes B, C and D. The third classification would be for schools of all sizes who just aren’t that good in football, simply because they lack the desire or resources to be good. They still would like to have a team but they don’t want to be down 50-0 at halftime. Once those levels are established, have a system that would allow- or even force a school to move up or down based on their record over the previous 5 years. If a team is uncompetitive in their classification, they move down. If a team is dominant, they move up. That will improve the completion and get us back to 28-14 games instead of 50-0 games. (Obviously the changes would have to be state-wide to conform to the state tournament.)
Anyway, we have what we have. One virtue of having too many divisions, (but not, I feel, an adequate reason for it), is that lots of schools have won sectional championships - 50 out of 78 current Section III football schools. Here is a list. Please note that there was no Class AA in 1979-82 and 1994-95. Also, before the state playoffs, ties were allowed and the teams that tied were considered co-champions. That happened three times: Bishop Grimes and Clinton in Class B in 1984, Dolgeville and Beaver River in Class D in 1987 and Skaneateles and Mount Markham in Class C in 1992. I’ve listed both participants as champions below.

Adirondack C- 1989, 1991
Auburn AA- 2006
Baldwinsville AA- 1986, 1989, 2009, 2010
Beaver River D- 1986, 1987
Bishop Grimes- B- 1984
Bishop Ludden C- 2000, 2007
Camden A- 2003
Carthage A- 1997, 2007
Cato-Meridian D-1993
Cazenovia C- 1996, B- 2001, 2006, 2007, 2010
Central Square A- 1985
Chittenango B- 1993 A- 1999
Christian Brothers Academy C- 1997 B- 1998, 1999, 2000, A- 2001, 2002, AA- 2004, 2005
Clinton B- 1984
Corcoran A- 1991 B- 1994, 1995, AA- 2002, 2003
Dolgeville D-1982, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, C- 1993, 1994, 1995, D- 1998, 2000, 2002, 2008
East Syracuse-Minoa A- 2006
Fayetteville-Manlius A- 1998, AA- 2001
Fowler B- 1991
Frankfort Schuyler C- 1982
Fulton A- 2000
General Brown- C - 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2010
Hamilton D-1996, 1999
Henninger AA- 1990, A 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2008
Herkimer C- 1980, 1981, 1984
Holland Patent B- 1983, 1987, 1988, 1989
Homer B- 1985, 1986, 2000
Jamesville-Dewitt B- 1981, A- 1984, B- 1997
Ilion C- 1985, 1990, B- 1996
Indian River C-1987
Liverpool A- 1979, 1982, AA- 1983, 1987 A-1994, AA- 1998
Lowville C- 1986, 1988, 1998
Mount Markham C- 1983, 1992
New Hartford A - 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, 2008
Nottingham B- 1980
Oneida B- 2008
Onondaga D- 2001, C- 2002, D-2003, 2006, 2007, 2010
Rome Catholic D-1979, 1980
Rome Free Academy A- 1980, 1981, AA- 1984, 1985, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996
Sauquiot Valley D-1984
Skaneateles C- 1992
Solvay B- 1979, 2002
Utica Notre Dame B- 1982, A-1983, C- 1999
Vernon-Verona-Sherrill B- 1990, 1992
Watertown Immaculate Heart D- 2005
Weedsport D-1981, 1994, 1995, C-2001, D- 2004
West Canada D-1997
West Genesee AA- 1988, 2007
Westhill B-2003, 2004, 2009
Westmoreland C- 1979, D-1988, C- 2006, 2008, D- 2009
Whitesboro A- 1986, 1992, 1996, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2010

The number of titles won:
15- Dolgeville
8- Christian Brothers Academy, Rome Free Academy
7- Whitesboro
6- Henninger, Liverpool, New Hartford, Onondaga
5- Cazenovia, Corcoran, General Brown, Weedsport, Westmoreland
4- Baldwinsville, Holland Patent
3- Herkimer, Homer, Jamesville-Dewitt, Ilion, Lowville, Utica Notre Dame, Westhill
2- Adirondack, Beaver River, Bishop Ludden, Carthage, Chittenango, Fayetteville-Manlius, Hamilton, Mount Markham, Rome Catholic, Solvay, Vernon-Verona-Sherrill, West Genesee
1- Auburn, Bishop Grimes, Camden, Cato-Meridian, Central Square, Clinton, East Syracuse-Minoa, Fowler, Frankfurt-Schuyler, Fulton, Indian River, Nottingham, Oneida, Sauquiot Valley, Skaneateles, Watertown Immaculate Heart, West Canada

State (playoff) Champions from Section III (10) :
1997- West Canada (Class D)
2000- Dolgeville (Class D)
2001- Onondaga (Class D)
2002- Onondaga (Class C)
2003- Onondaga (Class D)
2004- Christian Brothers Academy (Class AA), Weedsport (Class D)
2006- Auburn (Class AA)
2007- West Genesee Class AA), Bishop Ludden (Class C)

This year’s tournament field:
(The team’s won-lost record, points for and against and the number of Section III titles won in their history regardless of class is listed with each team.)

CLASS AA
West Genesee 7-0, 332-143 (2 titles) vs. Central Square 4-3, 192-115 (1 title)
CBA 6-1, 275-138 (8 titles) vs. Corcoran 4-3, 205-137 (5 titles)
Fayetteville-Manlius 5-2, 348-190 (2 titles) vs. Liverpool 4-3, 235-184 (6 titles)
Baldwinsville 5-2, 257-146 (4 titles) vs. Utica Proctor 4-3, 215-109 (0 titles)
Comment: We’ve been waiting for West Genny vs. CBA all season. F-M with their potent offense and B’ville with their running game could cause some trouble but both have lost one-sided games to the favorites.

CLASS A
Whitesboro 7-0, 324-143 (7 titles) vs. Fowler 1-6, 85-160 (1 title)
ESM 7-0, 330-59 (1 title) vs. Carthage 2-5, 131-235 (2 titles)
Indian River 6-1, 292-99 (1 title) vs. Cortland 3-4, 221-136 (0 titles)
Jamesville-Dewitt 5-2, 198-152 (3 titles) vs. Watertown 5-2, 214-133 (0 titles)
Comment: These match-ups illustrate the folly of splitting Class A into A and AA. Fowler and Carthage clearly don’t belong in any playoff. Carthage has already lost to ESM, 6-27 and Cortland has lost to Indian River 0-48. Did we really need a rematch of that? How about an 8 team field of West Genesee, CBA, F-M, B’ville, Whitesboro, ESM, Indian River and J-D? Five of those team used to be rivals in the old County League North.
In the meantime we can look forward to ESM vs. Indian River in the semis. Indian River has only one sectional title because they left the section for a number of years before recently returning to it. They lost to Whitesboro in their opener and has steam-rolled everyone since. ESM has their best ever team. The winner will take on perennial power Whitesboro.

CLASS B
Cazenovia 7-0, 243-60 (5 titles) vs. Marcellus 5-2, 180-123 (0 titles)
Chittenango 6-1, 231-168 (2 titles) vs. South Jefferson 4-3, 173-149 (0 titles)
Camden 4-3, 140-143 (1 title) vs. Homer 4-3, 159-116 (3 titles)
Mexico 5-2, 175-123 (0 titles) vs. Oneida 4-3, 134-105 (1 title)
Comment: This seems all set up for a rematch of Cazenovia and Chittenango, who just played a 13-10 game. They are easily the best teams in the division. It’s the only division in which no Section III team has ever won the state title. Cazenovia was going through it like a hot knife through butter but some close games at the end suggest that even they won’t be the first SIII team to break through, at least not this year.

CLASS C
Skaneateles 7-0, 390-121, (1 title) vs. Watertown IHC 5-2, 169-51, (1 title)
Herkimer 6-0, 275-84, (3 titles) vs. Canastota 5-2, 109-88, (0 titles)
General Brown 5-2, 205-148 (5 titles) vs. Tully 6-1, 235-112 (0 titles)
Mt. Markham 5-2, 109-104 (2 titles) vs. Utica Notre Dame 6-1, 258-108 (3 titles)
Comment: Tim Green’s team started out by blowing away defending sectional champion General brown and 2007 state champion Bishop Ludden in their first two games and have never looked back, averaging 56 points a game. They look like maybe the best Class C team we’ve ever had, (and the section has
won the state title twice). But their first round match-up is interesting. WIHC is giving up only 7 points a game, has two shut outs and their two losses were 2-6 and 0-6. They may be over matched but maybe not. Herkimer has been an impressive team in their own right, as has Utica Notre Dame.

CLASS D
Westmoreland 7-0, 263-61 (5 titles) vs. Cato-Meridian 4-3, 163-137 (1 titles)
Weedsport 6-1, 281-151 (5 titles) vs. Waterville 4-3, 120-152 (0 titles)
Dolgeville 6-1, 211-78 (5 titles) vs. Beaver River 5-2, 174-117 (0 titles)
Onondaga 6-1, 192-96 (6 titles) vs. West Canada 5-2 266-78 (1 title)
Comment: We waited all year for the Westmoreland Dolgeville confrontation and it turned out to be a 33-0 shocker, making the Bulldogs the clear favorite here
, although Dolgeville, Weedsport and Onondaga are all 6-1 and have won 26 sectional titles and 5 state championships between them. Again, if we had the old Big School/Small School set up, (with a third division for schools that couldn’t compete as well), we could have had a playoff bracket with, say Cazenovia, Skaneateles, Herkimer, Westmoreland, Chittenango, Weedsport, Dolgeville, Onondaga. Wouldn’t that be fun?
 
 
 
K

kingottoiii

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I think we need at worst a plus one. Can you imagine if we have a NCG of Clemson vs Wisconsin? If Okie St gets upset and then beats OU at home both of those more deserving teams are out. And both Bama and LSU have several games where they could slip up.
 

SWC75

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I think we need at worst a plus one. Can you imagine if we have a NCG of Clemson vs Wisconsin? If Okie St gets upset and then beats OU at home both of those more deserving teams are out. And both Bama and LSU have several games where they could slip up.

I could imagine Clemson vs. Wisconsin if they won their way their over Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, Stanford and Boise State. I actually think Wisconsin might have the best team in the country.
 

EastCoast2

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Thanks, SWC. Is CBA the #1 seed in AA? Who are their players to watch, and anybody going D-1?
 
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kingottoiii

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I could imagine Clemson vs. Wisconsin if they won their way their over Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, Stanford and Boise State. I actually think Wisconsin might have the best team in the country.

Wisconsin might be the best team but looking at their schedule there is no way they deserve it over a one loss LSU team who had to play the SEC West, @WV, and Oregon.
 

cusestudent

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Being from Whitesboro I can give a little insight as to their programs players. They probably have four kids on the team right now that could go D-1; two of them being seniors.
A kid named Steve Almond is very dominant at running back for them and even had OSU on him all last year until they saw his grades; same thing with SU, so I'm not sure if he'll play for us even though he'd be a great back here.
Mike Bunal is a phenomenal athlete that will most likely play big time D-1 baseball, but could easily play anywhere on the field for a program like SU.
Matt Felitto is probably the best bet for SU here as he is a junior with big time size to him. He is at 6'2" 215 and plays running back and linebacker; he has a ton of speed to go with the frame, but there are plays where he will run right over the top of three defenders in the open field and take it 60 yards to the house. SU needs to lock this kid up next year without a doubt, he is simply that good.
They have a sophomore offensive lineman that is 6'3" 240 and has a great frame to add size before he is a senior. He is very athletically gifted with speed and agility to go along with great footwork, and terrific football knowledge. He is the nicest kid you will ever meet, and he has a great work ethic; exactly the kind of guy HCDM is looking for.

IMO, this area has a lot of underrated talent that needs to be used; just look at Mike Sullivan from Whitesboro he definitely should have gotten more looks than he did, and ended up at Albany for the next four years.
 

SWC75

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Thanks, SWC. Is CBA the #1 seed in AA? Who are their players to watch, and anybody going D-1?

I listed the 1-2-3-4 seeds in order on the left side of each bracket. Weswt Genney is the #1 seed.
 

SWC75

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Wisconsin might be the best team but looking at their schedule there is no way they deserve it over a one loss LSU team who had to play the SEC West, @WV, and Oregon.

So put them all in a playoff and let them decide it on the field.
 

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