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SECTION IV FOOTBALL: WAVERLY TAKES ON POWERHOUSE CHENANGO FORKS IN CLASS C TITLE GAME (2021-11-12)

By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
BINGHAMTON — Waverly will vie for its fourth Section IV title since the inception of the state playoffs tonight at Chenango Forks, while the powerhouse Blue Devils are seeking their 18th title in 20 years.

Waverly enters the game at 10-0 and ranked seventh in the state in Class C, while Forks is 7-1 and ranked fourth. Forks’ lone loss came to Maine Endwell, which is ranked seventh in Class B.

The Wolverines are seeking their first Section title since 2015, while the Blue Devils have won eight in a row — the last four in Class C, and the four before that in Class B.

Waverly is 1-4 in the postseason against Forks, but have lost four in a row since a 14-13 win the 2008 Class B semifinals. They are 0-2 against Forks in the Section IV finals.

“We’ve been in this position several times,” said Waverly coach Jason Miller. “Obviously, they are a great program.

“They are challenging. They do what they do very well,” he noted. “We just have to go out and execute, play our game and not get away from what got us here.

“Our history is not good against (Chenango Forks), but that doesn’t mean a thing (Friday) night,” Miller added.

Miller said his team is looking forward to the challenge.

“We’ve had a good week of practice, and preparation,” he said. The kids are pumped up, and they’re loose.

“We’re where we want to be,” added Miller.

WHEN CHENANGO FORKS HAS THE BALL
The Blue Devils have averaged 46.6 points per game, while the Wolverines have allowed just 9.1.

“We’re going to see the same old Forks,” said Miller. “They are going to ram it down your throat.

“They have a good quarterback (Grady Stark), who is athletic and can run, and they have two good backs (Dubbs Haqq and Zander Arnold),” noted Miller.

“We’ll see some veer option, but their best play to us is their fullback dive. It hits so hard, and they have massive linemen,” continued Miller. “They do a good job of getting movement. It’s just very basic football, but at the same time very complicated in the multiple things they do with their backs and blocking schemes.

“They have a really, really good offensive line. We’re going to see one of the better linemen at any level in the entire state in Tyler Hayes,” added Miller. “And, their other linemen are very solid, too.”

Miller said the Wolverines will need to be wary of the pass as well.

“They lull you to sleep, and then they throw behind you,” he said. “They know when to call the pass, and when they do it’s usually successful.”

WHEN WAVERLY HAS THE BALL

Waverly averages 32.6 points per game, while Forks allows just 8.6.

“We’ll see multiple fronts, typically an even front,” said Miller. “They’ll play four over three some times on the receivers, or three over two.

“I expect see either five or six in the box, and covering with the rest,” he noted. “They are typically a zone team, and don’t like to get beat deep, so we’re going to have to be very patient on offense.

“We’ll have to take what they give us, and try to find holes in their defense,” Miller added.

Miller believes there are two keys to victory for his team.

“We have to continue to do what we’ve done all year, and that’s not turn the ball over,” he said. “Offensively, we need to control the ball, and keep it away from them.

“Defensively, we have to get stops,” noted Miller. “If they go 15 plays and score, then they’re better than us, but if we can get them off-schedule, and try to force them out of their 22-personnel grouping, which is two running backs and two tight ends, that would be a little bit of an equalizer.

“We can’t give up big plays,” added Miller. “It’s the same formula on defense … hopefully, they make a mistake along the way.”

Miller also believes special teams, especially the big leg of his junior kicker Ryan Clark, who has consistently hit his kickoffs inside the 10-yard line this season, could be a factor as well.

“That’s something that’s really critical,” said Miller. “They are like any other football team, the percentages go down if they have to go 80 yards.

“Obviously, your punt game and your special teams have to be good in these championship games, too,” noted Miller. “To me, those things become more of a factor.

“You’re not going to be as greedy on offense, if it’s fourth-and-short it’s probably a good idea to punt, especially anywhere near midfield,” continued Miller. “We can’t allow them to be in four-down territory. We have to keep them out of our end of the field. We can’t give them four downs to get a first down, that’s asking a lot of any defense against them.”

Game time is 7 p.m.

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IN PHOTO: Waverly coach Jason Miller. … VSR STOCK PHOTO.


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