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Oneida, VVS battle for trip to Dome

By MIKE LEVIN

WKTV - This Saturday, rivals Oneida and VVS will go head to head with a shot at the Class B Section III finals at the Carrier Dome on the line.  It's a rematch of the regular season finale from two weeks ago, a 33-6 finish won by the Red Devils, who earned the #3 seed in the Class B bracket because of it.  VVS then faced Homer at New Hartford's Edick Field last Saturday in the Section III quarterfinals and won 35-20.

"We're on a little streak here, we knew we needed momentum coming into the playoffs, we got that," said head coach Gary Oliver.  "This team has continued to work hard and continuing to thrive for their goals."

"We knew we could beat them with the deep pass, so we just went out the beginning of the game, saw the opening and took it," added QB Tyler Mautner, who threw for 278 yards and four touchdowns.

After falling to VVS, Oneida fell to #7 in the Class B bracket, but still managed to pull off a 24-8 upset win at Westhill in the section quarters last Friday.

"The first time this team really started to jell," said head coach Bill Carinci.  "We really started to come together, there was no selfishness involved, I didn't hear any bickering out there, it was absolutely a team oriented game."

"We really just fed off the loss in the VVS game and how it affected us and we just played so much harder," added senior Kyle Armstrong.  "If just keep playing like we did against Westhill, I think we have a great shot at winning the sectional title and making it even farther than that."

Both Oneida and VVS have been up and down this year, finishing their regular seasons with indentical 4-3 records, followed by last week's victories.  But each team has persevered through the tough times to get to this big matchup.  It's a game between players who know each other well and also know how much the other team wants to win.

"We're friends with half the kids on that team, I know all of them on a first name basis, but let me tell you, we're not friends this week and they feel the same way," said Oneida senior Evan Watson.

"I think it will be much more of a battle," added Mautner.  "They're going to come out hard, they're going to give us everything they've got, so we just have to keep playing hard and just come out strong."

The winner will not only get bragging rights over their neighbors, but also will advance to the Class B Section III Championship at the Carrier Dome next Sunday at 6 p.m.  The Indians know how big that would be, having won it just two years ago, but both teams will be fighting hard just to get there.

Kickoff for this Saturday's section semifinal at Chittenango between the Indians and Red Devils is set for 6 p.m.

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