Greene’s football players will likely deal with the sting of a 39-0 loss to Waverly for quite a while. But let’s be clear: The Trojans’ victory hopes were probably extinguished midway through the third quarter when it fell behind 27-0. Head coach Tim Paske was asked what was more surprising – giving up 39 points or his offense scoring none. “Not scoring,” Paske said. “Yeah, I didn’t think (39-0) would happen. “If you don’t bring your ‘A’ game and you don’t play for four quarters, this is what can happen.”
Greene has also made a healthy living this year bringing blitzing linebackers and defensive backs. This past Saturday, Waverly quarterback Zach Cooney either identified open receivers quickly, or had enough pass protection to get off a clean release. In one instance, Waverly receiver Jeff Mastrantuono was lined up in the slot with Greene linebacker Mike Beckwith defending in man-to-man coverage. At the snap, Beckwith slanted inside on a blitz. Mastrantuono was momentarily wide open, and Cooney delivered a quick pass parallel to the line of scrimmage. The Greene defense was a step slow to react, and Mastrantuono grabbed the “bubble screen” pass taking it 18 yards for a first down. Two other times in the first half, Waverly exploited Greene’s attacking defense. The first and third TDs of the game – 66- and 87-yard TD passes – came in situations where Cooney had his best receiver, Ryan Hewitt, locked up one on one with a Greene defensive back. Cooney tried Hewitt several times in the game, and those two big hookups paid big dividends leading to a 20-0 halftime lead.
“We brought pressure, and sometimes you get lucky with that,” Paske said. “We wanted to maybe give up one of those home runs, but we gave up a few more. That makes a big difference. We figured they would probably be able to score, but they’re a good team and they executed.”
Chenango Valley head football coach, Jay Hope, taught and coached briefly at Greene High School in the late 1990s before heading to CV. Hope assumed the head coaching duties from longtime Warriors coach Bob Zanot, and it took a few years before Hope and his coaching staff developed a consistent winning system. Now, with two straight Class B titles, CV is a fixture among the elite teams in the section.
Over the first month of this season, however; CV was anything but a playoff contender. It lost its opening game, had a week off due to flood damage across the Southern Tier, then lost two more, the latter contest a 35-31 division game against Oneonta. “When we were 0-3 at the beginning of the season, in terms of that, we could have folded up shop,” Hope said. “We told the kids after the fourth week that we were in the playoffs now, and we can’t lose. We came back versus Waverly, who is a sectional finalist, and had to come out and basically play playoff football. If we lost, we would be out. Our goal was to get to the playoffs and see what happens.”
On Monday, Greene’s Paske, with the benefit of hindsight and review of game film, talked about his team’s unfortunate sectional finals loss. “We started the game fine on defense,” Paske said. “We held them to a three-and-out, and even on their second series, they had a third-and-long before completing that long pass. If we get a knockdown or make a play, we would have had two three-and-outs on defense, and you never know what happens.”
Early in the second quarter and trailing 12-0, Greene moved from its 34 down to the Waverly 14. A Jeff Carlin run inside the 10 was negated due to a 10-yard block in the back penalty, and the Trojans never recovered from that mistake. Waverly took over on downs, and quickly raised the lead to 20-0 with an 87-yard TD strike. “We score and make it 12-7, it’s a big difference in how the game goes,” Paske said. “We hurt ourselves with some mental errors, but Waverly is a really good football team. Their defense was definitely the quickest we faced this year.”
Riding three straight playoff appearances, Norwich’s football future looks bright. A strong junior varsity team lost just one game and swept all of its league opponents. Yet, that junior varsity squad could have been even better. Six sophomores made the jump to the varsity level this year, and all played major roles on either offense or defense this season. “We have some great seniors that we’ll lose, but we were very young,” said Norwich coach John Martinson. “The program is looking up.”
Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat