Who: Lancaster Legends (12-0) vs. II-Troy Flying Horses (12-0)
When: 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: Carrier Dome at Syracuse University
Television: Spectrum News
Rankings: Lancaster is ranked No. 1 in the News’ Large School poll and second in the New York State Sportswriters' poll. Troy is ranked first in the state.
At NYSPHSAA championship game: This is Lancaster's first appearance. Defending champion Troy is making its seventh title-game appearance. The Flying Horses won in 1996 over III-Whitesboro (27-13) in Class A, 1998 over V-Fairport (26-9) in Class AA and 2016 over V-Victor (21-20). They lost in 1997 to V-Fairport (35-14), 1999 to V-Webster (35-18) and 2010 to V-Rush-Henrietta (40-28).
Coaches: Lancaster, Eric Rupp, second season (22-1); Troy, Bobby Burns, third season (34-1).
Lancaster key players and statistics: Sr. QB Ryan Mansell (145-214-1967-19 TDs, 4 INT), Sr. RB Andrew Hersey (201-1186-20 TDs), WR/DB Max Giordano (53-770-6 TDs receiving; 3 kick return TDs; 2 punt return TDs), LB/QB/OL Joe Andreessen (105 tackles, 17 TFL, 6.5 sacks; 63-459-14 TDs rushing; 2-2-28-2 TD passing), Sr. LB/TE/OL Ben Damiani (87 tackles, 15 TFL, 4.0 sack, 2 INT), Sr. LB/RB Brett Beetow (63 tackles, 4.0 sacks, 5 pass defensed, 3 INTs).
Troy key players and statistics: Sr. RB Joey Ward (214-1765-28 TDs; 31 total TDs), Sr. QB Joe Casale (88-143-1,322-18 TDs), Sr. WR/CB Dev Holmes (45-604-8 TDs).
How they got here: Lancaster defeated Section III champion Cicero-North Syracuse, 35-21, to reach the Dome. Joe Andreessen shifted from his tackle spot to quarterback in team's tank offense and rushed for 149 yards on 11 carries, scoring on runs of 43 and 2 yards He also tossed a 20-yard touchdown pass.
Troy defeated IX-Newburgh Free Academy, 20-13, in the downstate Class AA semifinal. Ward rushed 30 times for 123 yards. He handed off to Holmes on a reverse who scored the go-ahead touchdown on an 11-yard run with 1 minute, 53 seconds left.
Pre-snap read: Lancaster's toughest test yet is in its biggest game in program history.
Lancaster's base offense moved the ball passing last week with Mansell but had trouble running until shifting to The Tank offense with lineman Andreessen at quarterback. That got an offense that had not scored a TD since the first quarter of the Aquinas state quarterfinal win untracked during a second half in which the unit scored 21 of the 28 points. The Legends need both offensive formations to work effectively against a team with a 25-game winning streak in Troy.
The Legends also need to protect the ball as Casale and Isaiah Burdette have five and four interceptions, respectively.
Lancaster's special teams got the team off to a fast start with a touchdown on the opening kickoff. The unit needs to have another strong day – whether its scoring on a return or blocking a kick or a punt.
Defensively, Andreessen, Damiani, Beetow and company are going to have to slow down Ward, a workhorse back at 5-foot-9, 200 pounds who has carried the ball 104 times in four playoff games. He has rushed for 100 yards or more 10 times this season. Receiver Holmes also is a threat the Legends will have to deal with on the outside and should he get some carries via jet sweep or reverse plays.