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FROM THE PRESS BOX: PIGSKIN PICKERS LIKE TIOGA, FORKS, M-E; SPLIT ON CANTON IN STATE PLAYOFFS (2021-11-25)

Tioga is just one away from playing for a state title, but that one game could be a very entertaining one against Oakfield-Alabama-Elba.

There is other action this weekend as well with Canton, Chenango Forks, and Maine-Endwell still vying for state titles.

Last week was a solid week for our pigskin pickers. Front-running Little Red and myself were 6-1, while The Mick, and Country Bob were each 5-2. On the season, Little Red remains atop the standings at 114-18, while I have a record of 108-24, The Mick is 105-27, and Country Bob is 100-32.

On to this weekend’s action:

FRIDAY
Tioga (10-0) vs. Oakfield-Alabama-Elba (12-0), 3 p.m. @ Cicero-North Syracuse H.S.:
The Tigers are coming off a 50-12 demolition of Section III champ Dolgeville in the quarterfinals, while the Aggies (Section V) posted what is widely considered a 28–22 upset win over Section VI champ Randolph.

Tioga enters the contest ranked No. 1 in the state in Class D, outscoring its opponents by an average of 39.3 points per game, while OAE is No. 2 in the state, outscoring its foes by an average of 33.9 points per game.

The Tigers coaching staff has a wealth of experience in this round, with this being coach Nick Aiello’s ninth trip to the semifinals since 2011. This Tioga team has eight players who saw action in its 28-27 loss to defending and eventual state champion Clymer / Sherman / Panama in the 2019 semis.

OAE is in its second year as a merged program, and posted a 5-2 record in 2020. Oakfield-Alabama (without Elba) won the Section V 8-man championship in 2018 and ’19.

Prediction: The two teams are similar in the fact both have big-play capabilities with multiple players. … Tioga hasn’t played in a game that was decided in the fourth quarter this season, while OAE has played in three games determined by six or fewer points. … Another wild card to consider is the weather. The forecast is calling for 3 to 6 inches of snow and wind gusts reaching 40 miles per hour. If that’s the case, power football and taking care of the football wins this game. … TIOGA 30, OAE 14.
Little Red:
Tioga 35, OAE 21.
The Mick: Tioga 44, OAE 7.
Country Bob: Tioga 28, OAE 17.

Canton (13-0) vs. Old Forge (13-0), 1 p.m. @ Danville H.S.:
The Warriors are coming off a 32-27 win over defending PIAA Class A champion Steelton-Highspire, while the Blue Devils topped Williams Valley, 26-7.

It’s not often teams that meet in the PIAA quarterfinals have a common opponent, but these two do. Canton rolled to a 60-7 win over Hanover Area, while Old Forge blanked Hanover, 54-0.

Prediction: My guess is the team that wins this game, wins a state title. … OLD FORGE 20, CANTON 16.
Little Red:
Old Forge 28, Canton 14.
The Mick: Canton 30, Old Forge 24.
Country Bob: Canton 17, Old Forge 10.

SATURDAY
Chenango Forks (10-1) vs. East Rochester-Gananda (12-0), noon at Cicero-North Syracuse H.S.:
The Blue Devils are coming off a 41-21 win over Section III champ Skaneateles in the Class C quarterfinals, while the unbeaten Bombers edged Section VI champ Medina, 26-24.

 After a sub-par performance in a 40-14 season-opening loss to Maine-Endwell, Chenango Forks was perfect the remainder of the season, including a 4-0 mark down the stretch against four state-ranked opponents (James P. O’Neill, WG/OM, Waverly, and Skaneateles), which they outscored 147-54.

Prediction: Forks played a tougher schedule, and has been impressive since its loss to M-E. … CHENANGO FORKS 34, ER-GANANDA 14.
Little Red:
Forks 33, ER-Gananda 13.
The Mick: Forks 36, ER-Gananda 16.
Country Bob: Forks 27, ER-Gananda 16.

Maine-Endwell (10-1) vs. WNY Maritime, 3 p.m. @ Cicero-North Syracuse H.S.:
The Spartans are coming off a 48-22 thrashing of Section III champ Homer, while the Falcons topped Section VI champ Batavia, 22-14.

Prediction: If M-E is on its game, this should be a romp. … MAINE-ENDWELL 41, WNY MARITIME 13.
Little Red:
M-E 42, WNY Maritime 14.
The Mick: WNY Maritime 35, M-E 28.
Country Bob: M-E 28, WNY Maritime 13.

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