SYRACUSE – While there are football players who garner more attention than others it doesn’t change the fact that it takes a total team effort to win a championship.
Clymer/Sherman/Panama have been reminding folks of that throughout its latest postseason run, so it’s fitting that in the biggest game of the season everyone wearing a CSP uniform contributed in his/her own special way to what undoubtedly goes down as a sweet repeat for the merged program.
The Wolfpack (11-1) are once again the best in show among Class D football teams in the Empire State.
They did it by trouncing Section VII champion Moriah, 47-6, before more than an estimated 2,000 at the Carrier Dome on Friday afternoon. After turning the ball over on downs its first possession, CSP scored 41 straight points and punched the ball into the end zone each time on its next seven possessions to leave the Vikings woozy.
Moriah (8-4) interrupted a Wolfpack run of 56 straight points (a spurt that began during a 15-0 second half last week against Tioga) when Matt Diehl caught a 46-yard touchdown 13 seconds into the fourth quarter.
That was the only mistake by a CSP defense that turned Section VII’s all-time leading rusher, Maddox Blaise, into a non-factor. A defense that limited the Vikings to 168 total yards. A defense that made two interceptions. A defense that swarmed relentlessly to the ball – from the first-team unit led by overall game MVP John Swabik (12 tackles, one interception, six carries for 39 yards) to the reserves featuring senior defensive tackle and returnee Sally Watson.
“We all just do our piece of the puzzle and never take our foot off the gas,” Swabik said. “As long as we do that, we’re good.
“It’s nice to repeat because it shows we’re not just a one and done. We’re going to come back continuously for as long as we can.”
“This senior group has taken our program from a place of battling for respect and trying to become one of the elite teams in the area to this back to back state champions,” fifth-year coach Ty Harper said. “This is something that kids dream about, it’s something that coaches dream about. A lot of them never have the opportunity to achieve this. I think for our seniors, they’re an incredible group of kids. They’ve made football exciting and popular for younger kids and hopefully future generations of kids growing up in three little farming communities in southern Chautauqua County will keep playing football and be back here again.”
While last year’s meeting between these teams at the Dome featured some drama, CSP quickly eliminated the suspense in this one as its offense zapped the Vikings, who are now 0-4 in state finals with all those defeats coming at the hands of Section VI champions.
Cam Barmore’s 37-yard touchdown pass capped a three-play drive to give the Wolfpack the lead for good with 2 minutes, 30 seconds left in the first quarter. CSP needed just two plays to turn its next possession into six points as Brendon Ramsey scored on a 26-yard run after Swabik opened the drive with a 25-yard burst.
Connor Cooper (10 carries, 55 yards) rushed for the first of his two touchdowns – a 2-yarder with Matthew White catching the conversion pass to make it 20-0. Zavon Overton caught a 2-yard pass from Hinsdale as CSP went into halftime leading 27-0.
“Things started to avalanche … in the second quarter (on us),” Vikings coach Don Tesar said. “Those guys made some (defensive) adjustments, in series. We’d pick up a couple first downs and just not be able to sustain (those drives).”
After the Wolfpack recovered an onside-kick attempt by Moriah to open the second half, Cooper capped that 50-yard march with an 11-yard touchdown. Hinsdale, who completed 9-of-12 passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns, scored on a 1-yard run later in the quarter.
Backup quarterback Bishop Kopta capped the scoring with an 18-yard touchdown run with 8:21 left.
Clymer/Sherman/Panama closed the season on an eight-game winning streak after losing its Week Three contest at Franklinville/Ellicottville.
During the playoffs, the Wolfpack’s last four wins came against teams that had been averaging more than 31 points per game – squads that will have players on the all-state team. Each time CSP held its foes under its season scoring average, with its final two victories coming against teams who had running backs who rushed for more than 2,100 yards.
“You’re talking about all-state kids and our defensive unit was lights out down the stretch and they deserve the lion’s share of the credit,” Harper said.
“It was all practice,” said senior Barmore, who had six tackles. “We had a great week of practice. Props to our coaches for getting us ready. They kept on us all week and we came in well-prepared.”
CSP heads into the offseason winners of 24 of its last 25 games.
That’s a credit to the seniors and other returnees on the team. That’s a credit to the fresh faces, including a new offensive line that matured in a hurry.
Friday was the reward for everything coming together. A championship. A chance for everyone to see the field, so that the starters could soak in the whole championship feeling during the final minutes.
“We started out rocky,” Barmore said. “Then to get here and do it again feels so much better after having doubts after last year because we lost a bunch of men. … The whole fourth quarter it was fun getting to watch the other guys go out and play and watch the clock tick down. Then it started hitting me we were going to be state champions.”
That includes Watson.
“It’s exhilarating,” she said.