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Section VI Class C football championship preview: Cleveland Hill vs. Southwestern

Section VI Class C Championship

Who: Cleveland Hill Golden Eagles (8-1) vs. Southwestern Trojans (9-0)

When: 5 p.m. Thursday

Where: New Era Field

Tickets: $10

Webcast: https://www.nfhsnetwork.com/events/guide. There is a fee to stream the games.

Rankings: Southwestern is ranked No. 2 in the News Small Schools Poll and No. 3 in the New York State Sportswriters Poll. Cleveland Hill is ranked No. 4 in the News Small Schools Poll and fourth in the state poll.

At New Era Field: Cleveland Hill is 8-4; Southwestern is 4-6

Coaching records: Cleveland Hill, Glen Graham, 15th season (111-37); Southwestern, Jehuu Caulcrick, fourth season (27-9)

Cleveland Hill key players and statistics: Sr. RB/LB Aaron Wahler (104-1,346-23 TDs; 49 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries), Sr. QB/S Javon Thomas (112-1,141-12 TDs rushing; 5-8-135-2 TDs passing; 57 tackles, 5 INTs, 1.5 sacks), Sr. DB/RB D'Mario Grant (37-320-4; 45 tackles, 1 INT, 5 passes defensed), Jr. LB/RB Chris Diem (84 tackles, 5.0 FL)

Southwestern key players and statistics: Sr. QB/P Cole Snyder (126-200-1,854-35 TDs passing; 94-427-5 TDs rushing; 20 punts, 33.1 avg.), Sr. WR Alex Card (60-983-14), So. RB Zishan Munir (97-455-4 rushing; 11-156-2 receiving), WR/S Mayson Mathews (28-406-6), Sr. TE/DB Faizan Munir (13-110-6; 6 INTs), Jr. DE/OT Cooper Pannes (73 tackles, 11 TFL, 1.5 sacks), So. DL/OL Drew Wygren (63 tackles, 11 TFL 20)

How they got here: Cleveland Hill defeated Randolph/Frewsburg, 42-0, in a Section VI semifinal. Wahler rushed nine times for 181 yards and three touchdowns, and Thomas ran for a 65-yard touchdown and returned a blocked punt 46 yards for another score.

Southwestern survived for the second consecutive season in the semifinal round against Wilson by a point, this time advancing with a 45-44 overtime win. Pannes tackled Lakemen quarterback Steve Frerichs just shy of the end zone to deny the game-winning two-point conversion. Snyder, a Rutgers commit, passed for three scores and rushed 23 times for 107 and a score.

Pre-snap read: Cleveland Hill has passed for a total of 194 yards on 18 attempts. Southwestern has 1,940 on 205 attempts.

Yes, the third consecutive sectional final between these teams once again presents the clash of styles as its Cleve Hill’s ground-and-pound versus the Trojans'  quick passing attack. But this game again will be settled in the trenches. If Southwestern fails to slow the Golden Eagles’ running game or yields a plethora of long gains, it will be a long day again for the Trojans in the biggest game of the year.

Snyder is accurate throwing and is showing a knack for gaining yardage with his legs if need be to keep the chains moving. His 35 TDs passes are a season record for the program and one away from Joe Licata's Western New York record. Card set program marks for single-game receiving yards and touchdowns catches in a game (four).

Cleve Hill won the two previous sectional finals by scores of 42-16 last year and 52-21 in 2016.

What’s next: The winner advances to the state quarterfinal/Far West Regional game against the Section V champion at 5 p.m. Nov. 9 at Clarence High School. Attica faces Letchworth/Warsaw for the Section V title on Saturday at 5 p.m. at St. John Fisher.

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