Who: South Park Sparks (11-1) vs. Our Lady of Lourdes Warriors (10-2)
When: 3 p.m. Friday
Where: Syracuse University Carrier Dome, 900 Irving Ave, Syracuse.
Television: Time Warner Cable Sportsnet
Rankings: South Park is ranked first in the New York State Sportswriters Poll. Our Lady of Lourdes from Poughkeepsie is No. 3.
South Park at the Dome: 0-0.
Our Lady of Lourdes at the Dome: 0-0.
Coaches: South Park, Tim Delaney, eighth season (40-35); Our Lady of Lourdes, Brian Watson, sixth season (44-13).
South Park’s key players and statistics: Sr. QB/S Tyree Brown, 5-10, 175 (108-208, 2,465 yards, 28 TDs, 12 INTs; 111 carries 1,153 yards, 18 TDs; 26 tackles, 6 INTs), Sr. RB/CB Austin Neal, 5-10, 180 (63-513, 6 TDs; 5 INTs), Sr. WR/LB Daryl Moore, 6-1, 180 (40 catches, 954 yards, 9 TDs; 94 tackles, 15 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, 1 TD), Sr. WR/DB David Thomas, 5-11, 185 (37-1,009, 12; 38 carries, 328 yards, 3 TDs; 84 tackles, 6 sacks, 4 FF, 5 FR, 1 INT, 1 TD; 315 return yards, 1 TD), Jr. LB Nick Schaefer, 5-10, 225 (64 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 INTs, 1 FR), Sr. DE Fred Foster, 6-5/215 (13 sacks, 2 FF, 2 FR, 1 TD).
Our Lady of Lourdes’ key players and statistics: Sr. QB Dean Rotger, 6-0/190 (177-297, 2,601, 19 TDs, 5 INTs; 96 carries, 324 yards, 6 TDs), Sr. WR/CB Luke Timm, 6-5/185 (78-1,334, 17.1 avg, 7 TDs; 22 tackles, 7 INTs), So. RB/LB Joe Scaglione, 5-9/170 (121-639, 7 TDs; 124 tackles, 5 TFL, 3 INTs), So. DE Sean McDowell, 5-10/219 (60 tackles, 8 TFL, 4 sacks), So. T/DT Cameron Jones, 5-11, 270 (36 tackles, 1.5 sacks).
How they got here: South Park defeated four-time defending state champion Maine-Endwell of Section IV, 43-26, in the state semifinals last Friday at Cicero-North Syracuse. Section I champion Our Lady of Lourdes advanced by beating Amsterdam of Section II, 47-27.
Pre-snap read: History will be made regardless of the outcome since both teams have never reached this round of the state tournament, but South Park looks to complete the happy ending to its run.
The Sparks followed up winning their first Section VI title by winning their first regional game over Brockport, 20-7. They followed that with the victory heard around the state when they snapped Maine-Endwell’s record 62-game winning streak to become the first Buffalo Public School to advance to a state title game in football.
The key to South Park’s success starts with do-everything-quarterback Tyree Brown making plays with his legs and arm. He could be especially dangerous in the climate-controlled environment of the Carrier Dome, where he doesn’t have to worry about the wind interfering with his downfield throws. The Sparks must take advantage of their overall team speed on the fast turf, which means getting outside receivers Daryl Moore and David Thomas involved early and often to seize control.
On defense, forcing seven turnovers like it did last week would be a good formula for producing victory. While seven takeaways in back-to-back games would be something, it also could be expecting a lot. Perhaps three takeaways could be enough for the Sparks to seize control so long as their offense, which has scored at least 40 points in all but one postseason game, handles its business.
After winning Section I titles in Class B two of the past three years, private school Our Lady of Lourdes was moved into Class A this season. The Warriors responded to the challenge with their first extended state-tournament-playoff run.
Lourdes coach Brian Watson is an old-school coach with 240 career wins who likes to a strong running game. While the Warriors average a decent 4.6 yards per carry, Watson has been blessed to coach one of the best quarterbacks in the state the past four seasons in Dean Rotger. Rotger, who has several Division I-AA offers, holds Section I records for career passing yards (6,399) and yards in a season and shares the section mark for career touchdown passes (63). Helping him set records has been 6-foot-5 senior receiver Luke Timm. Timm averages 17 yards per catch and also has seven interceptions on defense. He could be a handful for South Park.
The Sparks have shown the ability to get after the passer and that’s a great way to discombobulate a team that likes to move the ball through the air. Moore and Fred Foster have combined for nine sacks the past two games.
What’s next: Season is over.
At buffalonews.com: The #PrepTalkLive blog will have game updates and play-by-play of key moments from the state Class A final. You can comment in the blog or via Twitter by tweeting with the hashtag #preptalklive.
– Miguel Rodriguez