The Section V Football season is down to two high school teams in seven classifications.
- Going for first sectional championship: Attica, Canisteo-Greenwood, Pembroke and Pittsford. While teams in the Pittsford school district have won Section V championships, a win by the Sutherland and Mendon combined team would set off a celebration among alumni.
- Defending champions: Batavia, Canandaigua, East Rochester/Gananda, McQuaid and Oakfield-Alabama/Elba. The McQuaid Knights could become the first team since Fairport from 1991 to 1994, to win four Section V championships in a row in the classification for the largest schools.
- Return to glory: Alexander (2018), East/World of Inquiry (2005), Hilton (1994), Monroe (1979) and Webster Schroeder (2009) aim to end title draughts.
No. 3 McQuaid (8-2) vs. No. 4 Pittsford (5-5)
When: 7 p.m. Friday at SUNY Brockport.
Whether McQuaid is on offense or playing defense, they find answers. The Knights came out on top 36-29 against a high-scoring Pittsford team during Week 4 of the regular season. That victory also required problem-solving to beat a tricky Pittsford defense certain to have more formations to throw at offenses this deep into the season. The Panthers shutout a big-play University Prep team in the semifinals.
“They bring pressure from a lot of different places,” McQuaid coach Bobby Bates said. “You don’t get the same look twice. They present chaos, which is tough to handle. Offensively, can you keep your stuff while adapting to their chaos, and I mean chaos in a good way.”
The same could be said about Pittsford’s offense. If the Panthers have a healthy lineup “we can do anything we want to do,” Pittsford coach Keith Molinich said about an offense that features receiver Jackson Green and quarterback Caleb Lewis.
No. 1 Webster Schroeder (10-0) vs. No. 2 Hilton (9-1)
When: 5 p.m. Friday at Fairport High.
This is a matchup many have been waiting for since Week 1. That’s when Webster Schroeder opened its season with a 21-14 win over Hilton.
Neither team has lost since.
The Warriors are most effective on offense when quarterback Drew Pagano drops back to pass to the likes of Torance Washington. Zain Khan, Davis Damelio and their strong front seven are giving up just 6.7 points per game on defense.
The Cadets have been carried by their running game. Jeff Broadnax and Robert Lowry have had huge performances all season, and could use one more memorable rushing game to claim the brick.
No. 1 East High/World of Inquiry (10-0) vs. No. 2 Canandaigua Academy (8-2)
When: 8 p.m. Friday at Fairport High
For the third time in four seasons, these teams square off for a championship and Canandaigua won the previous two. But in their Sept. 23 regular-season game at East, the Eagles won, 26-21.
East/WOIS led 20-0 early in the second quarter of that game before the Braves responded with 21 points, then had a chance to take the lead in the final minutes before a fumble deep in East/WOIS territory ended that threat.
So the Braves, who were down a defensive starter due to injury in that game, are eager for this rematch. QB Drew Williamee passed for 133 yards in that loss with 92 of those yards to Tysheed Crockton, who scored two of Canandaigua’s TDs.
The Eagles rushed for 154 yards in that win and Zymier Jackson threw for 191 yards and two TDs, so the Braves will keep their focus on trying to contain him along with Kevin Shepard, Amari Young, Anthony Diaz and Da’Mari Green.
No. 1 Batavia (10-0) vs. No. 2 Monroe (8-2)
When: 6 p.m. Saturday at SUNY Brockport
Batavia has its eyes set on another Section V title. The unbeaten Blue Devils have been blowing teams out all fall, most recently dropping Livonia 56-14 in the semifinals. Ja’Vin McFollins‘ move to quarterback helped, but coach Brennan Briggs’ staff has put players like Aiden Anderson and Cole Grazioplene in position to make plays. Do they have enough up their sleeve to swat away Monroe’s pesky Red Jackets? Batavia won the first meeting 28-6 in Week 3.
Monroe is a much different team since that setback. The Red Jackets haven’t lost a game since. Quarterback Khaya Moses has led his offense to 72, 64, 52 and 50 point totals in the regular season, but it’s been the defense that’s come through during the postseason. Led by players like Jayden Ferrell and Robert Arnold, they almost earned a second playoff shutout but Honeoye Falls-Lima scored late during Monroe’s 12-7 win. The Red Jackets have allowed more than eight points just twice all season.
No. 4 East Rochester/Gananda (9-1) vs. No. 3 Attica (8-2)
When: 3 p.m. at SUNY Brockport
This has been a reversal season for Attica, who won three games last season. The Blue Devils know they can win this game. A 40-32 victory in Week 2 over East Rochester/Gananda is the main reason why the Bombers were pushed down to the No. 4 seed. Landyn Thomas, a 170-pound junior with 15 touchdowns, is Attica’s go-to player. The running back has three touchdown catches and has thrown 11 thrown passes. He was projected to play receiver but has 908 rushing yards in 10 games. Another playmaker for Attica is senior running back/linebacker Wyatt Kauffman, a six-foot, 205-pound senior.
East Rochester/Gananda has won eight games in a row since the loss to Attica. Senior receiver Manny Sepulveda, also a standout in track and field, is a NCAA Division I college athlete. If opposing defenses shade too much coverage to Sepulveda, junior receiver Miles Caviness or the running game thrive. The Bombers finished with 158 passing and 160 rushing yards during their semifinal win over LeRoy.
No. 1 Oakfield-Alabama/Elba (10-0) vs. No. 2 Alexander (9-0)
When: Noon Saturday at SUNY Brockport
This is the only Section V final that isn’t a rematch from the regular season, so having a pair of undefeated opponents raises the stakes.
It’s easy to see why: Alexander is averaging 39.7 points per game and Oakfield-Alabama is scoring 54.9. On defense, Alexander allows 9 per game while the Aggies are giving up 8.5. And that’s what makes this such an intriguing matchup because it could be an offensive shootout or a defensive gem.
Offensively, there are no secrets because both teams cash their checks with a strong ground game, but the passing game can be effective when needed. O-A is averaging an astounding 385 rushing yards per game with five players in triple digits and two more, Noah Currier (1,579) and quarterback Bodie Hyde (1,108) over 1,000.
Alexander counters with a strong ground game itself, led by RB Ricky Townley and QB Trent Woods, who can also pass the ball to keep defenses off-balance.
No. 1 Canisteo-Greenwood (10-0) vs. No. 2 Pembroke (9-1)
When: Noon Saturday at Pittsford Sutherland High.
This rematch should be a dandy. Canisteo-Greenwood is the No. 1-ranked team in the state and Pembroke is No. 5. And while C-G has rolled opponents this fall, the closest game it had was a 28-14 win over Pembroke in Week 2.
Plenty can change for a football team in two months and the Dragons are no doubt champing at the bit with some confidence after playing C-G so closely. Tyson Totten, who averages 212 rushing yards a game, is the primary threat for the Dragons and QB Cayden Pfalzer adds another dimension as a passer and runner.
For C-G, RB Keegan Foote is the focal point with plenty of speed and a physical line in front of him. It’ll be interesting to see how the C-G defense comes out for this game. The unit gave up 34 points in last week’s semifinal win over Red Jacket after giving up 57 in the other nine games combined.