Who: Cleveland Hill Golden Eagles (11-0) vs. Section IV (Binghamton area) champion Chenango Forks Eagles (10-1).
What: New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class C semifinal.
When: Today, noon.
Where: Sahlen’s Stadium, 460 Oak St., Rochester.
Tickets: $10 for three-game session (Class B game at 3 p.m.; AA game between V-Aquinas and IV-Elmira at 6).
Television: Time Warner Cable Sportschannel (live).
Buffalo News small school poll (last poll Nov. 12): Cleveland Hill No. 2 (behind No. 1 Randolph).
New York State Sportswriters Association Class C poll: Chenango Forks No. 3 (same as last week); Cleveland Hill No. 4 (same as last week).
Where’s Chenango Forks? Nine miles north of Binghamton.
Cleveland Hill in the state semis: First appearance.
Chenango Forks in the state semis: 6-3, with all nine appeareances in the last 12 years. Included in that run are seven straight final four trips in Class B (2001 to 2007), five straight appearances in the state championship game (2001 to 2005), and two state championships (in 2003 and 2004). It has lost the two state semifinals it has made in the last four years, which have come with it in Class C. It lost in 2009 (21-0 to Southwestern, which went on to win the state title) and last year to Section V (Rochester area) champion Hornell, 20-7.
Coaches: Cleveland Hill, Glen Graham, 11th season (70-25); Chenango Forks, Dave Hogan, fifth season (56-8).
How they got here: Cleveland Hill won its first Far West Regional game in the program’s third appearance with a 46-20 victory over Section V champion Wayland-Cohocton. Chenango Forks beat Section III winner General Brown, 35-18.
Cleveland Hill key players (and statistics): Sr. QB Aaron Jackson, 5-foot-9, 150 (26-75, 553 yards, 6 TDs; 50-251 rushing, 1 TD); Jr. QB Anthony Sullivan, 5-8, 130 (19-39, 269 yards, 48.7 pct., 2 TDs, 2 INTs; 31-155 rushing, 2 TDs); Sr. RB Brandon Thomas, 5-10, 190 (166-1,086, 13 TDs; 26 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 1 INT); So. RB Grayson Taylor, 5-9, 195 (38-357, 4 TDs); Sr. WR Jared Watkins, 6-0, 145 (29-637 receiving, 10 TDs); Sr. FB Josh White, 5-4, 205 (99 tackles; 27-153 rushing, 1 TD); Sr. G Tyler Pawlowski, 5-11, 195 (90 tackles, 2 INTs); Sr. Wayne Jones, 6-0, 175 (87 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT; 2 rush TDs).
Cleveland Hill pre-snap read: Cleveland Hill’s diverse lineup has been on display the last two weeks as it has moved the program to its furthest point in the state playoffs. Thomas has run for five touchdowns in the two games, while Jackson threw two to start last week’s win. Six-foot, 300-pound senior Keon Crawford ran for a 3-yard touchdown last week. Six-foot, 215-pound junior Jermaine Hariston got carries at The Ralph. The 5-4 White led the team in tackles last week. Six-foot-4 senior Aaron Phillips, who just signed a baseball scholarship with St. Bonaventure, appeared at quarterback for a play last week. The defense shut down a high-scoring Fredonia team at The Ralph. The Eagles have been opportunistic, recovering three fumbles against Fredonia and forcing four turnovers last week.
Chenango Forks pre-snap read: The Blue Devils certainly have history and tradition on its side as it faces a team that has never been this far. Forks’ only loss was a 7-0 defeat in Week Two at Tioga, which lost to Randolph, 35-6, Friday night in the Class D semifinal. Otherwise, it won all of its regular season games – as well as its two Section IV playoff games – by at least 21 points before beating General Brown by 17 last week. Senior fullback Isaiah Zimmer (5-10, 190) has 1,749 yards rushing this season after a 89-yard game last week. Senior quarterback John Colm Sweeney (5-11, 180) threw two TDs last week to give him a total of 15.
What’s next: The winner heads to Syracuse’s Carrier Dome for the NYSPHSAA championship at noon next Sunday, Dec. 1. In the East semifinal, defending state champion and the state’s top-ranked team in the NYSSWA poll, Section II (Albany area) champion Hoosick Falls (11-0) plays Section I (Dutchess, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties) winner Rye Neck (10-0, No. 5) at 11 a.m. today at Kingston’s Dietz Stadium.
At BuffaloNews.com: The #PrepTalkLive blog will have play-by-play updates from all four of Section VI’s state semifinals. You can comment in the blog or via Twitter by tweeting with the hashtag #PrepTalkLive.
— Keith McShea