Lakers Can Clinch Division With Win Next Week

Posted on Oct 8 2016 - 3:26am by Josh McMullen
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ILION, NY– When you’re on a two-game losing streak like the Central Valley Thunder, the last team you want to see is the two-time defending state champion Cazenovia Lakers.

Unfortunately, the schedule makers were unsympathetic to the Thunder’s plight.

The Lakers rumbled into Ilion on a two game winning streak of their own, and on the back of captain Austin Enders’ two touchdowns, shut out the Thunder, 28-0 on Friday night. With the loss, Central Valley almost certainly needs a win in their season finale next week to punch their first-ever ticket to the Section III playoffs. However, Cazenovia has made the playoffs yet again, and can clinch yet another B East championship with a win over Oneida next week (due to their win over Mexico back in Week One).


The Lakers defense was dominant on Friday night, as CVA running back Charles Major learned on this second half rush attempt. (Photo By - Bob Critser)

The Lakers defense was dominant on Friday night, as CVA running back Charles Major learned on this second half rush attempt. (Photo By – Bob Critser)


For Cazenovia head coach Jay Steinhorst, there will be no need to get his Lakers motivated for next Friday’s game, which will be seen by thousands of people all over New York State next Thursday.

“It’s a TV game, the kids will be amped  no matter what,” Steinhorst said.

From the outset, however, it would take a little while to shake off the rust from an hour-long bus ride, as the first three drives ended the same way: with punts. After a punt from the Thunder only went ten yards, the Lakers found themselves with good field position. Using the bruising running of senior running back Cody Thorp, the Lakers ate up over three minutes getting down to the end zone before fellow senior Anthony Vecchiarelli would score the first points of the game. His 14-yard run would put the Lakers up early, 7-0.

From there, the Thunder defense seemed to dig their heels in and keep the Lakers out of the end zone for the rest of the quarter. However, Steinhorst was not surprised when the Thunder’s defense kicked it into gear.

“They’ve got a pretty good defense over there,” Steinhorst said. “They’ve shut out some of the best teams in the league.”

However, once the second quarter rolled around, the Lakers managed to punch it in again. After another three drives that ended with a fumble, a turnover on downs and a punt, respectively, Enders found the end zone again, on a bruising 15-yard run off tackle.


CVA's Noah Geloso (7) looks for running room as Lakers defender Damian Wheeler (68) moves for ths stop. (Photo By - Bob Critser)

CVA’s Noah Geloso (7) looks for running room as Lakers defender Damian Wheeler (68) moves for ths stop. (Photo By – Bob Critser)


Despite being the man of the hour, with two touchdowns and numerous defensive stands, Enders was quick to place credit where he believed credit was due.

“I really have to give a lot of credit to my line,” Enders said. “They opened up the holes for me tonight.”

The score would stay 14-0 into the halftime break, and for Central Valley head coach Jon Cole, that was an accomplishment in itself.

“We didn’t show up last Friday,” Cole said. “But, we fought with the defending state champions for four quarters. It’s a lot to build on.”

Unfortunately for the Thunder, after leaning on them for two quarters, the Lakers finally wore the Central Valley defense out. After taking the kickoff to start the second half, Cazenovia went on another drive that took 13 plays and took over four minutes off the clock. That drive ended on the back of Enders again, this time on an eight-yard run, to put the Lakers up 21-0.

After a turnover on downs from the Thunder, the Lakers only needed four plays to score again. Helped by runs of 40 and 15 yards from Vecchiarelli and a six-yard run from Enders, it was sophomore quarterback Matt Regan’s turn to shine. He would take the ball himself and score a touchdown from 13 yards out to put the Lakers up by four touchdowns and finally put away the Thunder.


Cazenovia's Anthony Vechiarelli (3) looks to gain the outside edge as CVA's Ben Stone (21) closes in. (Photo By - Bob Critser)

Cazenovia’s Anthony Vechiarelli (3) looks to gain the outside edge as CVA’s Ben Stone (21) closes in. (Photo By – Bob Critser)


From there, it was all about the Cazenovia defense. Led by Enders, one of their senior captains, the Lakers’ bend-but-not-break defense wore out the Thunder en route to a scoreless fourth quarter, sealing the win with an interception on a long Thunder pass that derailed a long drive by Central Valley early in the fourth quarter.

For Steinhorst, the Cazenovia defense was one of the key reasons the Lakers were able to leave Ilion, one of their longest trips of the season, with a win.

“I was very pleased defensively,” Steinhorst said. “A shutout is always good.”

Enders, however, believed it all started on the practice field back on Monday.

“I thought our defense played well,” Enders said. “We were locked in all week and we got it done.”

For the senior, to play at such a high level, despite coming back from season-ending injury last year, is just second nature to him.

“It’s every single game…I come out and play hard,” Enders said. “It’s what I love to do.”

For Cole, the injuries (of which Central Valley had several over the course of Friday night’s game) just were too much to overcome, but he was proud of his team’s never-give-up attitude.

“I thought we played to the last whistle,” Cole said. “We just ran out of men tonight.”

Cole will not have time to dwell on the loss too much. The Thunder now have to win the Thunder’s season finale against Camden to guarantee their first trip to the playoffs in school history. Despite the fact that the Blue Devils have not won a game this season, Cole is not looking past them.

“We believe we’re in right now,” Cole said, “[but] head play will start on Monday.”

After the game, the Cazenovia team came together, and after the post game talks, began chanting. Low at first, then growing ever louder until the words could be heard all over the Mohawk Valley, they chanted “Beasts of the East,” referencing their dominance over the Class B East over the last few years.

Judging by their performance Friday night, it is going to be really hard for the other seven teams in the Class B sectional playoffs to refute that claim.


Cazenovia Lakers 28, Central Valley Thunder 0


Cazenovia      7          7          14        0          28

CVA                0          0          0          0          0


1st Quarter

CAZ- Anthony Vecchiarelli 14 yard run (Matt Regan kick), 4:06


2nd Quarter

CAZ- Austin Enders 15 yard run (Regan kick), 10:05


3rd Quarter

CAZ- Enders 8 yard run (Regan kick), 7:46

CAZ- Regan 13 yard run (Regan kick), 3:18