Who: Cleveland Hill Golden Eagles (8-1) vs. Southwestern Trojans (7-2)
When: Noon Saturday
Where: New Era Field
Web cast: myspectrumsports.com
Rankings: Cleveland Hill is ranked No. 3 in the News Small Schools Poll and third in the New York State Sportswriters Poll. Southwestern is ranked seventh in the News poll and 16th in the state poll.
New Era records: Cleveland Hill is 7-4. Southwestern is 4-5.
Coaching records: Cleveland Hill’s Glen Graham, 14th season (101-35); Southwestern’s Jehuu Caulcrick, third season (18-8).
Cleveland Hill key players and statistics: Jr. RB/LB Aaron Wahler (142-1330-18 TDs; 42 tackles, 2 INT), Sr. LB/RB Ryan Majerowski (71 tackles, 3 INT; 50-409, 4 TDs), Jr. RB Javon Thomas (27-627-5 TDs), Jr. DB/RB D'Mario Grant (46 tackles, 1 INT, 3 passes defensed; 40-200-2 TDs), So. LB Chris Diem (45 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries).
Southwestern key players and statistics: Jr. QB Cole Snyder (102-189-17 TDs, 2 INT), Jr. WR/K Alex Card (24-443-7 TDs, 32 extra-point kicks; 40 tackles), Sr. RB/LB Brian Burns (100-512-5 TDs rushing; 23-287-4 TDs receiving; 31 tackles), Sr./ LB/FB Vinny Certo (77 tackles, 15 TFL, 3.0 sacks), Jr. TE/CB Faizan Munir (16-279-1 TDs receiving; 46 tackles, 9 TFL, 3 INT).
How they got here: Defending champion Cleveland Hill reached its second straight final by defeating Silver Creek/Forestville, 24-7, last Saturday in a semifinal clash. Wahler rushed 20 times for 183 yards and a touchdown, while Thomas rushed for 124 and a score to lead the Golden Eagles.
Southwestern reached its second straight final by surviving a rally by Wilson, edging the Lakemen, 28-27, in the semifinals. Brian Burns rushed for touchdowns of 3 and 15 yards and also caught a 10 yard score from Snyder as the Trojans bolted to a 28-7 lead. Wilson scored late in the fourth quarter but opted to go for the lead via two-point conversion. The Lakemen just failed to connect on it by inches. Wilson then failed to recover the ensuing onside kick.
Pre-snap read: Like last year, this game is a rematch of a regular season meeting. Cleveland Hill defeated the Trojans 12-0 at Carl J. Kuras Field inn Week Four.
The Golden Eagles' formula for success isn't a closely guarded secret. They play power football and love to ground and pound opponents into submission. Of the 3,521 yards Cleve Hill has amassed this season, 3,266 have come via the rush. Look for the Eagles to give the Trojans a steady diet of Wahler, Thomas and anyone else coach Graham taps to carry the ball.
The Trojans return behind the arm of 6-2, 200-pounder Snyder, who makes great decisions with the ball and has passed for more than 30 touchdowns and been picked off just thrice the past two seasons. Snyder spreads the ball around with five receivers catching at least 14 passes – led by Card's 24 receptions. Southwestern showed some toughness up front in its close losses to reigning champions Cleve Hill and Dunkirk (Class B) during the regular season. Those games helped them last week as with Snyder playing through an illness, the Trojans rushed for most of their yardage.
Next: The winner advances to the Far West Regional against the Section V champion at noon Nov. 11 at SUNY Brockport.