Whitestown – Central New York Football fans know that when it comes to success on the gridiron, the communities of Cazenovia and Whitestown are two of the most notable. Whether it be the Warriors of Whitesboro Central, or the Lakers of Cazenovia, at this time of year, while many schools are getting ready for the Winter sports season, these two are still playing football.
The youth programs are what feed the high schools, so its no wonder that this afternoon at the Whitestown Park, the Whitestown Warriors hosted the Cazenovia Lakers in a Tri-Valley Pop Warner League Playoff Game, at the Junior Pee Wee Level. At stake was a trip to Colgate University’s Andy Kerr Stadium, for the Tri-Valley League Championship Game on 11/1.
The Junior Pee Wee division of Pop Warner is played by boys and girls, ages 8, 9 & 10 years of age, weighing between 65 and 115 pounds. 11 year olds are also eligible, if they are under 95 pounds.
Heavy rains overnight made for some seriously soggy conditions on the field and a constant drizzle in the second half, made things move even slower. Where most running style offenses would be happy with three yards and a cloud of dust on every play, today the Warriors and Lakers had to be satisfied with three feet and a clump of mud.
Early on, it looked as though Cazenovia was going to have a big day on offense, as the Lakers took the opening kickoff 45 yards, on 11 plays all the way down to the Whitestown 8 yard line. The 8 minute drive stalled however, when the Warriors defense stood tall (well, as tall as Jr. Pee Wees can stand) and forced the Lakers to turn the ball over on downs.
The first quarter would come to an end with each team possessing the ball one time on offense, but zero points were put up on the scoreboard.
The Lakers, behind the running of quarterback JP Hoak and Ben Barnes, put together another long, clock eating drive in the second quarter, gaining the Whitestown 10 yard line, with less than 1 minute to go in the first half. In a carbon copy of the first quarter stand, the Whitestown “D” held again, on 4 Cazenovia running plays. Whitestown defenders Devlin Zajac, Colin Skermont and Brendon Kelly were terrific in their tackling and were a big part of the Warriors ability to stymie the Lakers and keep the score tied at 0-0 headed to the second half.
The third quarter was much more of the same. The Cazenovia defense did a great job in its own right, keeping the disciplined Whitestown running game in check for the entire third frame.
The tandem of JP Hoak and Ben Barnes running the ball for Cazenovia got even stronger in the third quarter and with time winding down, the Lakers found themselves with a first and goal at the 1 yard line. The field position was set up by a 34 yard run by Barnes, who was barely tripped up by Whitestown’s Kyle Meier, who made a diving tackle to stop Barnes on the 1/2 yard line.
The Warriors defense held yet again, this time forcing the slippery ball out of the hands of Hoak, as he dove for the goaline and the Warriors took over at their own one yard line, keeping things tied at 0-0, which is the way we’d go the 4th.
After a Whitestown turnover on downs with less than 5 minutes remaining in the game, the Caz offense went to work again and this time, they finished the job. Then with 1:16 remaining in the game, the exhausted Warriors defense finally relented. Ben Barnes took a hand off from Hoak, followed some excellent blocking around the left side and found the end zone, to give Caz the only lead of the ball game, 6-0. Barnes also ran in the conversion and Cazenovia held a 7-0 lead. A lead they would not relinquish, as Whitestown was unable to generate a score on their final possession.
The Lakers move on to the Tri-Valley Jr. Pee Wee Championship Game next Sunday at Colgate, against the winner of today’s other semifinal between Marcy-Deerfield and Dolgeville.
Congratulations to both teams on your great seasons and best of luck to Cazenovia moving forward from The Mid-York Sports Report!