CICERO – Brian Briggs had a good idea of what he and his Holland Patent football team had just been through.
And with whom.
“I think these guys are the next state champs,” said the Golden Knights head coach after Susquehanna Valley posted a dominating, 43-7 victory over his Section III champions in Saturday's New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class C Central Region final at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
The Sabers certainly looked as if they could make good on that prediction, thoroughly outmuscling the previously undefeated Golden Knights on both sides of the ball, piling up 468 yards on the ground, and allowing very few big plays for most of the way.
Hard-running Billy Sheridan carried seven times for 91 yards and three touchdowns for the Sabers, quarterback Jarred Freije collected 94 yards on seven tries – including a 63-yard touchdown run – Ed Lavin added 113 yards and a score on seven carries, and Kyle Leonard tacked on 54 yards and score on seven trips.
Section IV champion Susquehanna Valley, 11-0 and ranked second in the state in Class C, will play third-ranked Cleveland Hill (10-1) of Section VI in a semifinal game next Saturday at Union-Endicott High School.
Holland Patent, which last week won its first Section III championship since 1989 – Briggs was a member of that team – finished 10-1.
Golden Knights quarterback Nick Herringshaw and his teammates were obviously disappointed – “We didn’t do what we wanted to do,” the Holland Patent senior said – but also appreciated that they had enjoyed a historic year.
“We’re going to remember this season for the rest of our lives,” Herringshaw said.
“I’m really proud of the kids,” Briggs aid. “Especially coming from where we were last year, going 3-5.”
Sheridan, Freije, and Dan Matthews were among many standouts on a Sabers defense that relentlessly harassed Herringshaw and held Holland Patent to a relatively modest 240 yards and just the one score.
“Their (defensive) line was crazy,” said Herringshaw, who completed 15 of 34 passes for 137 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions while running for his life most of the time. “They executed their game plan the way they were told to all week. It was crazy trying to throw the ball.”
Saber offensive linemen Connor Brown, Trevor Frable, Zach Lawrence, Pat Enright, Colton Repsher and tight end Dan Wager had their own way all afternoon. Line play, Briggs said, was the biggest difference in the game.
“They’re tough; they’re physical,” he said. “They fired off the ball a lot better than we did. They were physical. Very physical.”
Holland Patent actually held a 7-6 lead as the first quarter ended after Herringshaw scrambled and hit senior running back Jason Haas for a touchdown from 28 yards out, with Josh Ernst adding the point. It was Herringshaw's 14th touchdown pass of the season.
The Sabers, who had taken an early lead 6-0 lead on Sheridan’s 1-yard run at the end of a 45-yard drive, then lined up in power sets and started pounding the ball.
Shortly afterward, early in the second quarter, Freiji faked a handoff, kept the ball, and ran through the middle 63 yards to score. The run failed, but Holland Patent couldn’t move on its next possession, and another short drive ended with Sheridan’s 19-yard bolt through the middle for a score. Josh Rudock added the conversion run, and it was 20-7 Susquehanna Valley with 5:46 left in the half.
The Knights again failed to move, and the Sabers used a 46-yard run by Lavin to set up Leonard’s 2-yard scoring run with just 31 seconds remaining in the half. Freije threw to Matthews for two points, and Susquehanna Valley headed to the locker room with a 28-7 lead.
Susquehanna Valley got the ball to start the second half and wasted no time making things even worse for the Knights. Two big runs and a penalty put the ball at the Holland Patent 18, and Lavin stormed in from there. Sheridan went 44 yards to score late in the third quarter, and Holland Patent couldn’t respond.
Haas, Holland Patent's 1,000-yard rusher, was limited to 43 yards on 14 carries. He finished with 1,354 rushing yards this season. Herringshaw led the Knights with 49 yards on nine carries.
Haas caught six passes for 48 yards, Ernst had five receptions for 40 yards and Jeff Sobel had three catches for 45 yards. Herringshaw also had a team-high eight tackles.
Susquehanna Valley 43,
Holland Patent 7
Holland Patent;7;0;0;0 - 7
Susquehanna Valley;6;22;15;0 – 43
SV - Billy Sheridan 1 run (run failed).
HP - Jason Hass 28 pass from Nick Herringshaw (Josh Ernst kick),
SV - Jarred Freije 63 run (run failed).
SV - Billy Sheridan 19 run (Josh Rudock run).
SV - Kyle Leonard 2 run (Dan Matthews pass from Jarred Freije).
SV - Ed Lavin 18 run (Lavin run).
SV - Sheridan 44 run (Laviin Kick).