Who: Maple Grove Red Dragons (11-1) vs. II-Cambridge Indians (11-1)
When: noon Friday
Where: Syracuse University Carrier Dome
Television: Spectrum News
Rankings: Maple Grove is ranked No. 8 in the News Small Schools Poll and No. 2 in the state poll. Cambridge is ranked first in the state.
State final records: Maple Grove is 2-1 beating II-Lake George (39-6) in 1998 and VII-Moriah (55-7) in 2008. The Red Dragons lost to Cambridge last season in double overtime, 22-21. Cambridge is 2-3 beating Clymer (28-0) in 1999 and Maple Grove last year, and losing to Dehli in Class C in 2001 (39-21), Onondaga in Class D in 2003 (41-21) and Randolph in Class D in 2005 (35-6).
Coaches: Maple Grove, Curt Fischer, 27th season (222-46); Cambridge, Doug Luke, 20th season (201-30).
Maple Grove key players and statistics: Sr. RB/DB Nick Fabrizio (208-1288-21 TDs rushing; 10-117-2 receiving; 68 tackles), Jr. QB/DB Easton Tanner (55-95-680-12 TDs passing; 111-729-9 TDs rushing; 44 tackles), Sr. RB/DB Nash Nelson (85-715-7 rushing; 57 tackles), Jr. WR/DB Zach Fischer (21-273-8 TDs receiving; 47 tackles, 2 INT), Sr. LB Zack Trim (157 tackles, 3 FF, 2 fumble recoveries).
Cambridge key players and statistics: Jr. RB/DB Tommy English (111-936-20 TDs rushing; 9-132-1 receiving), Sr. RB/DB Jonas Butz (90-847-15 TDs), Sr. FB/DL Colton Dean (54-389-12 TDs), Sr. QB/DB Zack Rowland (63-99-1,337-16 TDs passing), Sr. WR/LB Brenden Holcomb (21-557-8 TDs).
How they got here: Maple Grove advanced with a 32-27 victory over Section IV champion Tioga in a state semifinal contest last Friday at Union-Endicott High School. Nick Fabrizio's third touchdown of the game with under 6 minutes left gave the Red Dragons the lead for good. Fabrizio finished with 113 yards on 24 rushes, made six tackles and blocked a punt that set up a score. Carson Crist made eight tackles and recovered two fumbles – including one late in the fourth quarter to seal the win. Easton Tanner rushed for 102 yards, made seven tackles and defensed two passes.
Cambridge pummeled Section IX champion Millbrook, 56-8, in the other state semifinal. The defending state champion Indians scored on eight of their first nine possessions, all in the first half. They made five takeaways, scoring off four of them. Brenden Holcomb recovered two fumbles and recorded an interception.
Pre-snap read: What can these two teams do for an encore after last season's riveting final – the first Class D title game to be settled in overtime?
One thing Maple Grove wants is a different outcome – one with it on top.
In order for the Red Dragons to do that, they will have to win the battle in the trenches against an Indians team with a couple 300-pound linemen.
It's no secret what Cambridge will try to do – establish the run with its wing-T. It has a pair of fast running backs in English and Butz, who have thrived in feature roles after serving as backups last year. Cambridge also has a fast, aggressive defense.
Maple Grove loves to run but threw some early passes last week to keep Tioga honest. The Red Dragons will need to be on point with their execution on offense although they could use misdirection to exploit Cambridge's aggressiveness.