After all the struggles and unknowns of the six-game regular season, the Section V postseason — albeit abbreviated — is now here and the local contingent of teams will make for a full slate of games this weekend.
In Class B, Batavia will look to remain unbeaten to set up a matchup with No. 1 seed HF-L, in Class C Le Roy will look to bounce back and set up a likely rematch with Livonia in the title game and in Class D, could Oakfield-Alabama/Elba and Avon be on a collision course for a rematch as well? Or could Alexander and Canisteo-Greenwood have something to say about it?
Here is a look at this weekend’s contests:
No. 3 Newark (3-3) at No. 2 Batavia (6-0)
At Van Detta Stadium
Sunday, 6 p.m.
By looking at the overall stats, you would never guess that the Reds gave the Blue Devils their toughest test of their undefeated season but that is exactly what happened in Week 4.
In a back-and-forth contest, Batavia and Newark were tied at seven at halftime before the Blue Devils pulled out to a 28-14 lead and had to hang on for a 28-20 win. Since then, Batavia has outscored its last two opponents — Midlakes and Palmyra-Macedon — by a combined 104-7, while Newark got by Bishop Kearney before routing Wayne 48-27 in the last week of the regular season.
And make no mistake about it, Batavia head coach Brennan Briggs knows full well that this Newark team is better than it’s 3-3 record might indicate.
“There is no chance we look past Newark. They are playing their best football right now and their RB is the real deal,” Briggs said. “Now that he’s being utilized so often it makes it challenging for opponents. We will need to play a fantastic game to contain him, but we will be ready for the challenge.”
The running back Briggs speaks of is senior Travontay Murray, a 5-8, 184-pound speedster who was contained in the first three weeks but has gone off of late. Murray torched the Blue Devils in Week 4 for 187 yards and two scores, while in the win over Wayne last week he absolutely went off for 379 yards and six TDs on 37 carries.
On the season Murray has rushed 129 times for 886 yards and 11 TDs.
As they have all season, Batavia will counter with a balanced attack of QB Jesse Reinhart, running back Terrez Smith and wide receivers Alex Hale and Tyler Budziniak.
Smith leads all of Class B with 1,138 yards on the ground and 17 TDs, while Reinhart has been outstanding, throwing for 814 yards and 13 touchdowns. Hale has emerged as the top receiving threat with 328 yards and seven scores, while Budziniak has proved to be a threat down the field as well.
While Murray has been a beast out of the backfield, the Newark passing game — featuring both Zach Mallette and Jacob Sides — has struggled somewhat; the Reds have gone just 21-of-48 through the air for 349 yards with six interceptions against just three TDs.
Newark, which has allowed 20 points per game this season, will have to contend with the highest-scoring team in Section V as Batavia has put up nearly 43 points per game this season.
The Batavia defense scuffled at times early on but has seen their points per game allowed drop to 15.5 after the seven points allowed over the last two weeks. Junior Kaden Marucci (46 tackles) has led the resurgent effort for the Blue Devils, which has featured an overall 11-man effort on the defensive side of the ball.
These two teams met in the postseason in 2018 when Batavia ripped Newark 51-14 in the Class B quarterfinals on its way to the New York State title game. Meanwhile, the Reds will be seeking their first sectional tournament win since the 2013 season.
“The team is locked in,” Briggs said. “We set a goal at the beginning of the season to play May 1 and we will do what it takes to prepare for the semis.”
The winner will more than likely get No. 1 seed Honeoye Falls-Lima, which meets No. 4 Pal-Mac in the other semifinal. The Cougars hammered the Red Raiders 51-3 in Week 5 and have outscored their opponents this year by an average of 42-2.3. HF-L has the lowest scoring defense in all of Section V, having allowed just nine points in five games played.
No. 3 Le Roy (5-1) at No. 2 Bath-Haverling (6-0)
Saturday, 6 p.m.
The Oatkan Knights were riding high through the first five weeks of the regular season, with one of the best defenses in all of Section V. That all temporarily came to a halt last week as Le Roy dropped a defensive slugfest 6-0 to undefeated Livonia at Hartwood Park and this week will likely not be much easier.
Without much time to lick their wounds, the Oatkan Knights will need to figure out how to bounce back in a big way.
“We have now been through a game that showed our team what it takes to win a championship,” Le Roy head coach Brian Herdlein said. “We’re going to do the same things that have been successful all year. We need to cut out the penalties and play a clean game.”
Quietly the Rams have gone unbeaten on the season, with four of those wins coming in dominant fashion — a combined 117-6 over Marcus Whitman/Bloomfield, ER/Gananda, Wayland-Cohocton and Mynderse. However, Bath also had a pair of narrow wins in Weeks 4-5, 38-35 over Penn Yan and 36-26 over Waterloo. The win over Waterloo was it’s only setback of the season as the Indians will meet top-seed Livonia in the other semifinal.
Without a doubt it has been the defense that has carried Le Roy and it did again last week, holding a Livonia team that averaged well over 40 points per game to just six, which were scored on the Bulldogs final possession of the game. The Oatkan Knights were the last team in Section V to allow a point this season and have allowed just 27 points through their six games.
That impressive Le Roy defense is as balanced as they come, led by Jack Tonzi, who has 36 total tackles this season, including 4.5 for a loss. Meanwhile, junior Zach Vanderhoof is an absolute menace and has 31 tackles — 10.5 for a loss — and 3.5 sacks this season.
Cole Rauscher (31 tackles), Cory Wallace (25 tackles), Ty Strollo (25 tackles), Alex Panepento (21 tackles) and a host of others have also had huge impacts on that side of the ball. Le Roy has 13 players in double figures in total tackles.
The Le Roy offense, before last week, had been getting increasingly better behind the running game of Nate Andrews and Panepento, as well as Tonzi. The Oatkan Knights rushed for just 78 yards last week but for the season average 5.4 yards per carry, led by Andrews (430 yards, 5 TDs), Panepento (62-318, 5 TDs) and Tonzi (22-106, 4 TDs).
Panepento has been solid through the air, throwing his first interception of the season last week, and has gone 36-of-61 for 466 yards and 6 TDs. Adam Risewick has been his top target with 14 grabs for 258 yards and three TD, though an injury suffered by another weapon on the outside in Cody Lytle could come into play this week if he can’t go. Andrews (10-176, 2 TDs) has also been big in the passing game.
Much like Le Roy, Bath isn’t explosive on offense but will get it done behind a pair of solid running backs and an efficient quarterback.
Brayden Hess has run for 410 yards, Damien Hall has 390 yards on the ground and sophomore Justin Yehl has thrown for 390, mostly to junior Anthony Brotz.
Le Roy and Bath have played one common opponent in ER/Gananda — the Rams cruised 30-6, while the Oatkan Knights did the same to the tune of 40-14.
When speaking of Le Roy, Bath head coach Matthew Ford has nothing but praise for the Oatkan Knights.
“When I think of Le Roy football these things come to mind — fast off the ball, disciplined, physical, relentless, tradition,” Ford said. “Le Roy is a football community where the gridiron roots run deep. When you play Le Roy, you’re not playing vs. a team, you’re playing a whole community. There’s a lot of pride in their program.
“The stage has been set and we look forward to a physical game Saturday night,” Ford added. “I couldn’t be more proud of my players so far. Great team chemistry. This is an opportunity of a lifetime. We tell our players — make plays, make memories, leave everything on the field.”
No. 1 Oakfield-Alabama Elba (5-1) vs. No. 4 Alexander (5-1).
At Van Detta Stadium
Sunday, 1 p.m.
One of the pleasant surprises of the year in the Aggies appears to have gotten back on track after a stunning loss to Bolivar-Richburg in Week 4.
O-A/Elba, in its first year back to 11-man football after two championships at the 8-man level, has rallied with a 54-0 win over York/Pavilion and an impressive 37-7 whitewash of Avon. In the Aggies’ five wins this season they are averaging 46.4 points per game, which makes the 14-8 loss to previously winless B-R even more stunning.
“The Bolivar game was a nice slice of humble pie for us,” O-A/Elba head coach Tyler Winter said. “I think our team has been better because of it. It showed us that, with the teams in Class D, we need to bring our best to every drill, every practice, every film session, and every game to win. Since then, they have done a nice job portraying that relentless determination in everything they do. The Avon and York games were by-products of some of the best practices we have had all year.”
The Aggies offense, as it has all year, will go as far as its dominant running game will take it, led by senior standout Ty Mott. Mott has rushed for 1,383 yards and 20 touchdowns on the season and is a threat to break a long one every time he touches the ball. Meanwhile, Gaige Armbrewster has quietly had a solid season with 377 yards on the ground and three scores.
Winter and his staff haven’t asked freshman QB Bodie Hyde to go to the air often, but he has been solid at 18-of-27 for 315 yards and four TDs; Hyde also has over 100 yards rushing and three more scores.
At times underrated and with a bend-don’t-break mentality, the O-A/Elba defense has been almost as good, allowing under 10 points per game.
Peyton Yasses leads the team with 54 tackles, but the Aggies have also gotten strong efforts from Dontrell Jenkins (39 tackles — seven for a loss), Mott (36 tackles — 13 for a loss — three sacks and a pick), CJ Gottler (26 tackles, six for a loss, team-leading five sacks) and Kaden Cusmano, who has five tackles for a loss and three sacks.
The Aggies will get an Alexander team that snuck into the Class D tournament over 4-2 Geneseo/Mt. Morris and will be looking to prove it belongs in the final four.
“It’s unfortunate that having a 5-1 record is something you have to worry about when qualifying for football sectionals,” Alexander head coach Tim Sawyer said. “With the power seeding policy it didn’t help our cause when every team from the North Division lost on Tuesday night except us.”
Despite being 5-1, the Trojans’ wins have come over teams with a combined record of just 6-17, with a forfeit win over Lyons. The lone team with a winning record that Alexander played — Avon — it lost to 21-0.
Devin Dean has led a strong Trojans defense that allows just nine points per game with 39 tackles and a pair of sacks, while Jake Laney has 23 tackles and Nick Kramer has 19 stops and three sacks.
Connor Hollands (14 tackles), Gavin Smith-Crandall (13 tackles), Brayden Woods (13 tackles) and Jay Morrison (12 tackles) have also produced on the defensive side.
Woods leads the offense with 54 carries for 455 yards and four TDs and Kramer has been solid from his QB position at 56-379, 4 TDs but this Alexander offense isn’t as efficient as those in the past, averaging just over 21 points per game.
Kramer has gone 18-of-50 through the air for 231 yards and two TDs with one interception, while Jay Morrison (8-143, TD) has been the top wide-out.
“With a good Alexander team up next, the message will need to be the same,” Winter said. “We have to earn the right to win this game in every piece of our preparation as Sunday approaches.”
While O-A/Elba has been in 8-man the last two seasons, Alexander has been the Class D title game four years in a row — with two wins — including a narrow loss to Notre Dame in 2019.
“We need to play our best game on Sunday to compete with the OAE team,” Sawyer said. “They are big, skilled, and well-prepared. We need to be gap sound in our defensive scheme and tackle well. Obviously we would like the ball in our offense’s hands and churn out drives. Our objective is to score one more point than the other team.”
No. 3 Canisteo-Greenwood (5-1) at Avon (5-1)
Sunday, 1 p.m.
The Braves, who appeared to be the top team in Class D throughout most of the regular season, will have to find a way to come back from a 37-7 throttling at the hands of O-A/Elba last week and they will have to do it with a backup QB who struggled against the Aggies.
Junior QB Andrew Rowland is out for the season and sophomore Rich Brice was picked off four times last week by the Aggies as the Braves were held well below the 32 points per game they had averaged before that.
Avon will ride on running Thomas Welch, who has run for over 600 yards and eight touchdowns. Welch has run for at least 93 yards in each of Avon’s wins — over 100 in three — and had three scores in back-to-back weeks before the Week 6 loss. The Braves have also picked up a win via a forfeit from Lyons.
The Braves had allowed just 36 point all season before last week’s 37 — though two of the scores last week came on interceptions returned for TDs.
For Canisteo, like Avon, it’s lone loss this season was a blowout at the hands of O-A/Elba. The Redskins have had three blowout wins themselves, a forfeit win and on the 14th they had to edge Geneseo/Mt. Morris 14-7 in overtime in what proved to be the game that got them into the postseason.
Quarterback Roque Santiago is a huge offensive threat, with wide receivers Hunter McCaffery and Andrew Morling and running back Chase Weeks. C-G, though, has at times struggled to be consistent, specifically in the loss to O-A/Elba.
Avon is looking for its first sectional title since 2012.