POTSDAM - Despite being 8-0, the Potsdam Central football team still sits one win away from earning a trip to the NYSPHSAA playoffs.
The Sandstoners get their shot at that victory tonight when the play host to OFA in the Section 10 Class C Championship Game starting at 7 p.m. In the NAC regular season meeting between the two schools, Potsdam took over sole possession of first place with a 44-14 decision on its home turf. That game stands as the lone loss of the season for the Blue Devils, who have since outscored their last three opponents by a total of 140-62 including a 48-0 win at home over Canton in their semi-final round matchup last Friday night.
Potsdam coach Jim Kirka expects that OFA will be dramatically improved as two of their most physical players in quarterback-defensive Josh Liebstein and fullback-linebacker Jordan McCormick will be back at full strength for the Devils. Hobbled by a foot injury Liebstein didnt play until the second half in the regular meeting after the Sandstoners had bolted out to a large lead. McCormick missed the entire game with an injury.
They did have guys missing last time. It will be the team that doesnt make mistakes which will come out on top, noted Kirka following his teams 46-16 semi-final round win over St. Lawrence Central. I think weve gotten better since we last played them. I think its probably going to be a shootout.
Potsdam enters the contest ranked fourth in this weeks New York State Class C Poll while OFA holds the number 18 ranking. The contest will match the top scoring teams in Section 10 as Potsdam has tallied 372 points and OFA 263.
The Sandstoners have produced the majority of their offense on the ground led by senior runningback Oden Robertson who has amassed 1,230 yards and 23 touchdowns. Junior Chase Palmer (48x441) and senior fullback Rian McFadden (39x265) have also made lead contributions.
Senior Will Coleman has emerged as one of the top quarterbacks in the section this season. Along with being a threat to run the ball, he has been the most accurate passer, completing 27 of 44 passes for 471 yards and seven touchdowns and has yet to throw an interception. Seniors Travis Hall (8x151) and Jacob Bryant (9x108) anchor the Potsdam receiving corps.
Liebstein triggers a very balanced OFA offense passing for 613 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushing for 405 yards and nine touchdowns. McCormick has gone for 678 yards on 83 carries. The trio of Jon Rogers (13x367), Jon Tayler (20-260) and Nick Sweeney (18x184) has accounted for the majority of OFAs receiving yardage.
The winner of Fridays game will move into the New York State Tournament opposite Saranac Lake or Saranac Central who play for the Section 7 title on Saturday.
MASSENA AT TUPPER LAKE
Two teams with automatic bids to their respective state tournaments will also be squaring off against each other this evening as Massena Central, the lone Class A team in the section, heads to Tupper Lake for a 7 p.m. non-league matchup against the Lumberjacks, the only Class D squad. Both teams are coming off wins in their first non-league tune-ups for their upcoming state tournament openers.
Coached by Anthony Diagostino, the Raiders improved to 6-2 by holding on for a 25-18 win on the road over Franklin Academy while Tupper Lake evened its record to 4-4 with a 34-7 decision at home over Gouverneur. FA plays host to Gouverneur on Saturday in the Section 10 Class B Championship Game.
The Raiders have been led offensively by the senior duo of runningback JP Reagan and quarterback Rory Corcoran. Reagan has rushed for 1,398 yards and 21 touchdowns on 146 carries while Corcoran is the teams second-leading rusher with 316 yards and one touchdowns on 52 carries. Hes also completed 37 of 102 passes for 599 yards and nine touchdowns while being intercepted seven times. Junior Josh Manley has been his main target with 377 yards and seven touchdowns on 19 catches. Reagan has pulled down another 11 passes for 143 yards and one touchdown.
Defensively, the Raiders are led by senior linebacker Jeremy Malone, who has a team-high 55 tackles to his credit. Junior linebacker Isaiah Dillabough has notched another 38 takedowns followed by Reagan with 34 and seniors Sam Gerber and Connor Paquin with 30 apiece. The Raiders have also generated 21 sacks this fall led by senior Josh Blair with four and classmate Ross Davis with three-and-a-half. Seniors Robert Cunningham and Cody Hooper have logged three sacks each. Manley and classmate Matt Thibault has posted four and three interceptions respectively.
The Lumberjacks have shown steady improvement since the start of the season. They have scored 82 points in their last two games as senior quarterback Morgan Stevens has passed for more than 300 yards and senior tailback has rushed for nearly 250 yards. Senior wide receiver Mitch Keniston is one of the leading aerial threats in the section.
Regardless of the outcome of tonights game, both teams will spend the next week preparing for their state tournament openers the following weekend. Massena is slated to be on the road against the Section 2 (Albany-area) champion while Tupper Lake will be going up either Moriah or Ticonderoga of Section 7.