Thursday, November 30, 2023

Whitesboro one win away from playing for state championship

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CICERO – Whitesboro is the last area football team standing and Friday’s semifinal is the last obstacle standing between the Warriors and a return to the JMA Wireless Dome to play for New York’s Class A championship.

Whitesboro and Class AA Christian Brothers Academy of Syracuse were the only Section III winners in Central Region playoffs against the champions of Section IV. Next up are the winners from the West Region – sections V and VI – at Cicero-North Syracuse’s Michael J. Bragman Stadium.

The games Friday and Saturday will be the first major state sporting events held at the facility following the death of Bragman, a state assemblyman for two decades and previously and schoolteacher and Onondaga County legislator, last month.

More: Whitesboro took control of Vestal in first quarter of a 31-7 quarterfinal football victory

More: PHOTOS: Whitesboro football downs Vestal

Whitesboro takes on Rochester East/World of Inquiry from Section V in the final game of Friday’s tripleheader. The Warriors and Eagles are scheduled for a 6 p.m. kickoff following the eight-player game between Section V Pembroke and Section IV Moravia at noon, and the Class D game between Section IV Tioga and Section VI Clymer/Sherman/Panama at 3 p.m. Classes C, B and AA will follow a similar schedule Saturday afternoon and evening.

The eastern semifinals follow the same schedule for the five 11-player classes at Middletown High School; the western eight-player game functions as the final for four competing sections.

Championship games will be played in Syracuse University’s former Carrier Dome on Dec. 2 and 3. Should they advance Friday, Whitesboro’s Warriors would play Dec. 2 at 3 p.m.

Whitesboro scored 21 points in the first quarter and led 28-0 at halftime of its 31-7 regional win over Vestal, the Section IV champion playing on its home field. That fast start has been a recurring playoff theme for the Warriors (11-1), winners of 11 consecutive games, who led 43-0, 34-0 and 23-0 at halftime of sectional wins over Fulton, Corcoran and East Syracuse-Minoa.

Dartmouth College-bound quarterback Kyle Meier got the Warriors started at Vestal with four touchdown runs in the first half. He ran for 140 yards on 18 carries and completed four of seven passes for 81 yards in the regional, and has run for 1,967 yards and 31 touchdowns as a senior while passing for 1,736 and 21. He ran for 2,270 yards and 21 touchdowns and passed for 1,002 and 15 as a junior.

Junior Memphis Ferguson has run for 731 yards and 10 Whitesboro touchdowns, and he has also thrown four touchdown passes. Anthony Dorozynski is the team’s leading receiver with 39 catches for 881 yards and 15 touchdowns; Brayden Czternastek has 27 receptions for 521 yards and three touchdowns.

Ferguson and Ryan Charlebois are the top tacklers on defense while Tyler Thorngren has five interceptions and two fumble recoveries this fall.

Rochester East/World of Inquiry is undefeated at 12-0 and ranked one spot ahead of Whitesboro by the New York State Sportswriters Association. The Eagles defeated Brighton 25-8 in the Section V championship game and beat Section VI Clarence 42-7 in their regional last weekend at Williamsville South High School.

The Eagles feature a passing game with returning all-state picks Zymier Jackson, Anthony Diaz and Ervin Wiggins Jr.Jackson, the quarterback, earned honorable mention last year when Rochester East/World of Inquiry went unbeaten until a season-ending sectional playoff loss; he has completed 66% of his passes for 2,826 yards and 26 touchdowns this fall while leading the team with 533 rushing yards and eight more scores.

Diaz was a second-team all-purpose honoree on offense as a junior – Meier was the first team pick – and has 48 receptions for 806 yards as a senior with eight total touchdowns.

Wiggins, a sixth-team linebacker, has 88 tackles and six interceptions on defense, 20 total touchdowns, and 43 receptions for 800 yards and 12 touchdowns on offense.

The other Class A semifinal in Middletown pits Section I Somers, the 2022 state champion, against Section II Niskayuna in a rematch from last fall’s semifinals; Somers won 35-7 last time.

Section IV Union-Endicott beat Section V Hilton 28-14 in the western Class A semifinal last year. Christian Brothers Academy of Syracuse won the 2021 state championship as the most recent Class A team from Section III to reach the final.

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