Who: Cheektowaga Warriors (10-1) vs. Chenango Forks Blue Devils (11-0)
When: 3 p.m. Saturday
Where: Ty Cobb Stadium at Union-Endicott High School
Web cast: myspectrumsports.com
Rankings: Cheektowaga is ranked No. 1 in the News Small Schools poll and No. 3 in the New York State Sportswriters' Poll. Chenango Forks is ranked second in the state.
At NYSPHSAA semifinals: Cheektowaga is 0-2, losing in 2014 to IV-Maine-Endwell (54-28) and 2015 III-Cazenovia (55-18). Chenango Forks, which holds the state tournament records for wins (28), games played (38) and championship-game appearances (10), is 10-3 in this round. This is Forks' sixth straight final four with its last semifinal loss coming in 2012 to Hornell (20-7).
Coaches: Cheektowaga, Mike Fatta, sixth season (53-9); Chenango Forks, Dave Hogan, 10th season (104-12).
Cheektowaga key players and statistics: Jr. QB KeShone Beal (92-188-1614-19 TDs passing; 177-1220-23 TDs rushing), Sr. RB Michael Gray (120-683-3 TDs), Sr. RB Jaquan Bush (46-280-7 TDs), Sr. WR Tommy Zolnowski (26-531-7 TDs), Jr. LB Taivaughn Roach (108 tackles, 17 TFL, 7 sacks), Sr. DB Alekzander Bryant (67 tackles, 5 INT), Sr. LB John Sweat (65 tackles, 14 TFL, 4.0 sacks)
Chenango Forks key players and statistics: Sr. RB/LB Jeremiah Allen (263-1965-29 TDs), Sr. QB Kris Borelli (17-45-7 TDs; 76-388-5 TDs rushing), Sr. RB Dan Crowningshield (90-548-3)
How they got here: Cheektowaga advanced to its third semifinal in four years by defeating Section V champion Hornell, 28-6. Beale passed for 244 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 76 yards and two scores. Taivaughn Roach finished with 12 tackles to lead the defense.
Chenango Forks advanced with a 28-9 victory over Section III champion Homer in the Central Regional. Forks scored the game's final 21 points over the final three quarters. Jeremiah Allen rushed for two touchdowns during a day in which he carried 37 times for 225 yards.
Pre-snap read: One of the legendary football programs in the state is all that stands between Cheektowaga and a date at the Carrier Dome.
Chenango Forks likes to run, run, and run some more behind its big line. The Blue Devils' workhorse is Allen. The forecast does call for rain -- ideal for a ground-and-pound approach.
Perhaps slick conditions and a well-placed blow or more, though, will open the door for a takeaway or more by the Warriors considering the Devils had some early uncharacteristic turnovers in the cold last week.
Cheektowaga's offensive playmaker is Beale. Forks knows that it has to stop him, just like everyone else the Warriors have played. Warriors' line and Beale work in unison to make the plays that fuel the offense. They will need to do that again but must take what Forks is giving them because limiting the Blue Devils' possessions will be key. Forks' offense is a great defense as it has held the ball for nearly 150 minutes longer (that's 2 1/2 hours) than its opponents this season.
This will be Cheektowaga's toughest test to date. The Warriors, who have been stout defensively all year, need to get off blocks, tackle well and play with determination. They also must have a short memory. If Allen gets a big gain here and there, well that's to be expected since he's gotten his all season. But they can't let the Devils string together a series of long runs. If that happens, it could be a long day for them against the winningest program in state tournament history.
What's next: The winner advances to the state championship game at noon Nov. 26 at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse againt either defending state champion II-Glens Falls or I-Pleasantville (10-1).