NEW HARTFORD, NY – After a hard-fought defeat at the hands of the Oneida Indians at the Carrier Dome last week, the New Hartford Spartans were determined to not let history repeat itself Friday night at Don Edick Field. Tyler Potocki and the rest of the Spartans were angry, and they looked to take it out on Class B rival Chittenango.
Potocki did that in spades, running for an eye-popping 250 all-purpose yards and five of the Spartans’ six touchdowns in a 43-14 shellacking of the Bears on Friday night. Teammate Blake Hobin added another 196 all-purpose yards and the other touchdown for New Hartford, who now jump to 1-1 on the season.
“We played well as a team tonight,” Potocki said. “We gave 110% and that’s what led to our victory. Ever since the loss [last week to Oneida], I’ve woken up every day wanting to go beat Chittenango.”
From the outset, it looked like Potocki was going to do that all by himself. After a Chittenango punt that was brought back all the way to the Bears’ 26-yard line, Potocki went right to work. The sophomore would take the Spartans all the way down to the one-yard line, helped along by a 24-yard pass to fellow sophomore Anthony Campola. After that big pass, Potocki would punch it in himself, slamming right into the middle of the Chittenango line for the first score of the game halfway through the first quarter.
Chloe Elsenbeck’s kick would put the Spartans up 7-0 early, but the Bears certainly would not roll over and die. Helped along by a huge 34-yard pass from senior Brian Lamaitis to classmate Alex Whitcomb, the Bears marched down the field, needing only seven plays and just three minutes to take an early lead on an eight-yard rush by Francis Serio. Nathan Smith’s two-point conversion would put the Bears up 8-7, but neither Pawtocki nor New Hartford head coach Jim Kramer would allow another iteration of last week’s game to come to pass.
“Coach [Kramer] told us we just had to work harder than them,” P0tocki said. “When we were down 8-7, we acted like we were up 8-7 so we didn’t give up on themselves.” That was certainly evident on the ensuing drive, as Hobin and Potocki, helped along by a crucial roughing the passer penalty deep in their own territory, seemed to get bogged down near midfield. That all changed rather quickly, as Potocki found fellow sophomore Tyler Cole 61 yards downfield. Cole made the catch, then outsprinted the entire Chittenango defense for a touchdown to regain the lead at 14-8.
Another holding penalty derailed another Chittenango drive late in the second quarter, and New Hartford would take advantage yet again. Though their drive would also be bogged down by two different false start penalties, it would be close enough for Elsenbeck to punch in a 25-yard field goal for a 17-8 lead early in the quarter.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, the Spartans managed to keep Lamaitis and the rest of the Bears’ offense off the scoreboard for the rest of the half. That defense, led by senior Israel Mason, forced the Bears to punt once and turn the ball over on downs twice. The second one seemed to hurt the Bears the most, as Lamaitis uncorked three straight long passes near the end of the half, all of them falling out of the hands of Whitcomb and forcing Chittenango to turn the ball over on downs just before the half. Instead of going into the locker room with a closer game, the Spartans defense managed to take the team into the half with a 24-8 lead.
“We couldn’t catch, we couldn’t tackle and we couldn’t run tonight,” Chittenango head coach Curt Kielbasa said. “It’s hard to win when you can’t do those things. Anytime we got anything, they just stopped us. [We] certainly tried. If [Whitcomb] makes that catch near the end of the half, we were right back in the game.”
“We didn’t tackle as well last week,” New Hartford head coach Jim Kramer said. “We worked on it all week. We wanted to be different than last week, and I thought we were successful.”
The defenses certainly came out to play to start the second half, as both of them managed to force a turnover. The Beats started the quarter off with a fumble deep in their own territory. Helped along by a bomb by Lamaitis to Gabriel Haley, the Bears managed to go all the way from their nine-yard line to the edge of the New Hartford red zone. Unfortunately, senior Jonathan Gil left the Bears scoreless once again, picking off Lamaitis’ fifth straight pass deep in their own territory. From there, the Spartans needed only one play to get them right out of trouble and onto the scoreboard. Hobin managed to find a hole in the defense and sprint the entire 88 yards to the end zone and a 30-8 lead.
It would not get any better for the Bears from there. Lamaitis would pick up another interception, this one by Cole. Luckily for Chittenango, Hobin would fumble on the very next play, giving the Bears great field position. The Bears would take advantage, ripping off runs by four different players. In the end it would be senior Dakota Diable delivering the final blow, scampering off the right edge for a four yard touchdown.
Potocki would not be outdone on New Hartford’s next offensive drive. After the Spartans’ defense held off a recovered onside kick (in which the Bears went from the New Hartford 41-yard line to their own 28 yard line on two penalties and a sack), Potocki took advantage, ripping off a run of 18 yards and a twisting throw caught by Hobin to take them down to the one-yard line. From there, Potocki slammed into the middle of the line to give the Spartans a 37-14 lead.
“He’s only a sophomore,” Kramer said. “But we’ve taken the training wheels off of him this season and he’s been great. We played a very good team game. We came out with a higher energy tonight.”
Nowhere was that more apparent than on the last drive of the game. Starting at the New Hartford 28-yard line, Potocki ran the ball in all but one of the Spartans’ six plays, culminating with a sweep down the right side of the defense to cap off the scoring. “We got our rear ends handed to us, that’s for sure,” Kielbasa said. “They played a good game, and they beat us just like that.”
“Coach [Kramer] just wanted us to finish strong an we did that,” Potocki said of the team’s performance from start to finish. I thought we did very well and I hope we carry it into next Friday.”
What a difference a week makes, especially if you are a fan of the New Hartford Spartans.
New Hartford Spartans 43, Chittenango Bears 14
Spartans 14 10 6 13 43
Bears 8 0 6 0 14
NH – Tyler Potocki 1 yard run (Chloe Elsenbeck kick), 6:54
C – Francis Cerio 8 yard run (Nathan Smith run), 3:29
NH – Blake Hobin 61 yard pass from Potocki (Elsenbeck kick), 2:07
NH – Elsenbeck 25 yard field goal, 8:59
NH – Potocki 4 yard run (Elsenbeck kick), 2:48
NH – Hobin 88 yard run (kick failed), 6:15
C – Dakota Diable 4 yard run (run failed), 1:48
NH – Potocki 1 yard run (kick failed), 10:46
NH – Potocki 9 yard run (run failed), 6:04