COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (WKTV) - Eight weeks into the season, nine Section III football teams are still undefeated. The biggest surprise among that group has to be Cooperstown, but for the Redskins to stay that way into next week they have to beat another unbeaten team in the Section III, Class C conference finals this Friday: perennial power Cazenovia.
The Cooperstown program has been down this road before, getting to 8-0 in 2001 before losing to Mike Hart-led Onondaga in the sectional semifinals. For this group, though, this was the first year they'd even made the playoffs, so it's hardly familiar territory, and getting one game further would be new territory altogether as Cooperstown has never made it to the sectional finals.
Despite having identical records, Cazenovia, which won a sectional Class B title two years ago, is clearly in a class of its own, having outscored its opponents 334-35. So Cooperstown understands it's the underdog, but it's a role the team has embraced.
"I think we definitely are the underdog," says senior running back and linebacker Tanner Niedzialkowski. "Because Cazenovia was recently a 'B' school, and Cooperstown's not really known; we hadn't been to a sectional game in I don't even know how long. So I'd say we are somewhat of an underdog, but I don't think, to me and the rest of the team, it doesn't make a big difference."
Head coach Steve Pugliese agrees Cazenovia is the favorite, but he also believes his underrated Redskins have the tools to get an upset.
"They possess a lot of weapons, and it's going to be hard for us. But hopefully, it's gonna be hard for them to stop [us]. I've got two good backs and a quarterback who can throw the ball, too. They don't realize that, and people don't realize that. So hopefully we'll have some weapons against them."
Friday's game is at RFA at 8:00. For the complete high school football brackets, click here.