Who: Lancaster Legends (11-0) vs. Cicero-North Syracuse (11-0)
When: 7 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Ty Cobb Stadium at Union-Endicott High School.
Television: Spectrum News.
Rankings: Lancaster is ranked No. 1 in the News’ Large School poll and second in the New York State Sportswriters' poll. C-NS is ranked sixth.
At NYSPHSAA semifinals: This is the first appearance for both teams.
Coaches: Lancaster, Eric Rupp, second season (21-1); Cicero-North Syracuse, David Kline, second season (19-1).
Lancaster key players and statistics: Sr. QB Ryan Mansell (130-189-1874-19 TDs, 3 INT), Sr. RB Andrew Hersey (186-1165-20 TDs), WR/DB Max Giordano (48-756-6 TDs receiving; 27-32 extra-point kicks; 3 kick return TDs; 2 punt return TDs), LB/QB/OL Joe Andreessen (90 tackles, 17 TFL, 6.5 sacks; 50-313-12 TDs rushing; 1-1-8-1 TD passing), Sr. LB/TE/OL Ben Damiani (73 tackles, 13 TFL, 4.0 sack, 2 INT), Sr. LB/RB Brett Beetow (54 tackles, 4.0 sacks, 4 pass defensed).
C-NS key players and statistics: Sr. FS/WR Tyler Days (59 tackles, 1 INT), Jr. QB Connor Hayes (97-138-1832-21 TDs passing; 46-550-9 TDs rushing), Sr. RB/CB Erik Pride (199-2006-31 TDs), Sr. WR Lukas Merluzzi (34-685-9 TDs), Sr OT Lorenzo Thomas, Sr. LB/FB Kyle Cody (48 tackles).
How they got here: Lancaster defeated Section V champion Aquinas, 9-0, in the Far West Regional. In the victory, the Legends' defense held their foe to 57 yards with Joe Andreessen finishing with four tackles for losses and 2.5 sacks. Lancaster's Max Giordano caught a 13-yard pass in the back of the end zone for a touchdown in the first quarter.
Cicero-North Syracuse crushed Section IV champion Elmira/Southside, 57-14. Pride rushed for 241 yards and three touchdowns. Hayes ran for two touchdowns, including a 93-yarder, and threw for another.
Pre-snap read: Lancaster has amassed roughly 4,000 yards in total offense, more than 360 yards per game. As impressive as those numbers are, the Legends face a foe that has churned out 6,209 total yards through 11 games. Lancaster averages 42.6 points per game while the Northstars score at a 52.9 per-game clip.
Both teams have shown the ability to light it up offensively so it makes sense that defense could be the deciding factor.
Lancaster's 'D' had a "hello world" moment last week in posting a shutout against longtime state power Aquinas on a day in which the Legends offense mustered just seven points.
The defense is going to have to bring it again, but the offense will need to score more than seven points to have a chance against a C-NS team that has scored at least 41 points in each of its games.
C-NS has what Rupp called "perfect personnel" for its wide-open offense that features four receiving threats, a good running back, dual-threat QB and a big line. But have the Northstars faced a defense like Lancaster's, which has personnel that processes information rather quickly?
Days is a Boston College commit, one of at least five future Division I or II level players in the C-NS starting lineup.
What's next: The winner advances to the state championship at 3 p.m. Nov. 26 at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse and will face either defending state champion II-Troy or IX-Newburgh Free Academy.