Who: VI-Western New York Maritime/Health Sciences Falcons (10-2) vs. IV-Maine-Endwell Spartans (10-1)
Where: Cicero-North Syracuse High School, Cicero.
When: 3 p.m. Saturday.
Live stream: nfhsnetwork.org.
State semifinal history: This is WNY Maritime/Health Sciences’ second appearance. The Falcons lost 41-20 to eventual state champion Chenango Forks in 2019. Maine-Endwell is 5-2 in this round, but is making its first semifinal appearance since 2015 when it lost to eventual state champion South Park.
Coaches: Tyree Parker, WNY Maritime/Health Sciences, third season (25-5). Matt Gallagher, Maine-Endwell, 11th season (107-15).
Rankings: The Falcons are ranked No. 1 in the Buffalo News small schools poll and second in the state Sportswriters’ Class B poll. The Spartams are ranked No. 1 in the state.
WNY Maritime/Health Sciences key players and statistics: Sr. RB/DE D.J. Littleton (146-1,493-17, 27 tackles, 2 sacks); So. RB Jameer Thomas (39-462-3); Sr. RB/LB Braylen Boyd (59-687-6, 41 tackles, 2 sacks); Sr. WR/DB Addison Copeland III (9-276-4, 27 carries-343-4, 3 punt returns-144 yards).
Maine-Endwell key players: Sr. RB Don Hamer; Sr. QB Mike Mancini; Sr. WR Pat George; Sr. DE/G Jacob Romanosky; So. DE Adam DeSantis.
How they got here: The Falcons defeated Section V champion Batavia 22-14 in the Far West Regional at Williamsville South last week. Addison Copeland III scored two touchdowns, including the go-ahead one on a highlight-reel 22-yard run.
The Spartans trounced Section III champion Homer 48-22 in the Central Regional. The Spartans scored five touchdowns in the second quarter to pull away from Homer.
Pre-snap read: When the wing-T offense is humming at a superior level, it’s a thing of beauty for an offense and a nightmare for the defense. The challenge facing the run-first Falcons will be stopping the run out of that formation so that it can ground and pound. That means the Falcons must win battle up front and get great push to disrupt plays. They also must play assignment football and trust that by handling the job that way, holes will be plugged.
WNY Maritime/Health Sciences also must find way to get ball into hands of stars Copeland III and Littleton in space so that they can make something happen.
Copeland, Braylen Boyd and David Wright are the only remaining holdovers from the Falcons’ 2019 run to the state semifinals. Look for Tyree Parker to lean on them so that the youngsters playing in this game for the first time do not feel overwhelmed.