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High school football: General Brown, Indian River travel same road to same championship goal – NNY360

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Rain. Potential for heavy rainfall. Low 54F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 100%. Rainfall possibly over one inch..
Rain. Potential for heavy rainfall. Low 54F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 100%. Rainfall possibly over one inch.
Updated: November 11, 2022 @ 11:11 pm
Indian River coach Cory Marsell talks to the team during a timeout in the Section 3 Class B semifinal against Central Valley Academy last week. Amanda Morrison photo
Indian River’s Cameron Williams Patterson is tackled by the Central Valley Academy during the Class B semifinal last week at Philadelphia. Amanda Morrison photo
Indian River’s Ethan Hattori drivves through Central Valley defenders for a touchdown during the Class B semifinals last week at Indian River High School. Amanda Morrison photo

Indian River coach Cory Marsell talks to the team during a timeout in the Section 3 Class B semifinal against Central Valley Academy last week. Amanda Morrison photo
Indian River’s Cameron Williams Patterson is tackled by the Central Valley Academy during the Class B semifinal last week at Philadelphia. Amanda Morrison photo
Indian River’s Ethan Hattori drivves through Central Valley defenders for a touchdown during the Class B semifinals last week at Indian River High School. Amanda Morrison photo
The Indian River and General Brown football teams have had one collective goal all season — to return to Syracuse University’s JMA Wireless Dome.
Now both teams, after losing at the Dome last season, are looking to finish the job this time around.
They will play in back-to-back Section 3 championship games Sunday, first with General Brown (8-1) squaring off against Holland Patent (8-2) in the Class C final at noon. Indian River (10-0) will then clash with Homer (8-1) in the Class B title game at 3 p.m.
“It feels great, it feels great to go back,” General Brown senior Kaleb Natali said. “We’re hoping we can change the outcome from last year.”
Both teams have followed similar paths to return to Syracuse and there are several parallels between the two squads, also two of the top programs in Section 3, if not in the state.
“It feels great, I’m looking forward to playing in the Dome again,” Indian River senior Davin Dewaine said. “We’ve been working for it all year, we want to win.”
Each team is facing rematches in their respective finals and both possess similar offenses.
“I think we both have strong tradition, we both love to run the football and that’s what we stick to,” General Brown coach Doug Black said. “We kind of hang our hat on being hard-nosed teams, so I think that it’s no coincidence that both of us are back.”
“It’s exciting,” Indian River senior Connor McMahon said, “I love the cold and we’re out here and we just keep chugging on, we don’t care, we just keep going so we can get that prize at the end.”
Both Black and Indian River coach Cory Marsell have plenty of respect for the other’s program. Indian River is playing in its seventh Section 3 final in nine full seasons, while General Brown is seeking is first sectional title since 2013.
“General Brown, they’re always good,” Marsell said. “(Late General Brown coach) Steve Fisher was a mentor of mine and I visited him many times and a lot of the things we do, we got from him. So I’ve always had a lot of respect for the General Brown program.”
Indian River and General Brown have both rushed for 49 touchdowns this season, although the Lions sport more of a passing game to complement their run game.
The Warriors have run for 4,254 yards this season on 487 carries, for a team average of 8.7 yards a carry. The Lions, who have played one less game, have carried the ball 441 yards for 3,386 yards for a team average of 7.7 yards per touch, as well as totaling 715 passing yards and seven scores through the air.
“Their offense is very similar to ours now, they’re just a little more spread out than we are,” Marsell said of General Brown. “But it’s the same, usually a two tight-end set or a flex bone set.”
The Warriors are making their first foray in the Section 3 playoffs in Class B, after making their mark in Class A over the years, winning their last sectional title back in 2019, as well as capturing a state title in 2014.
Ranked No. 4 in the state in Class B, top-seeded Indian River grinded out a 22-6 home semifinal victory over fifth-seeded Central Valley last Friday night.
“I thought we did pretty well,” Marsell said. “We missed some of our blocks offensively, I thought our defense did some really good things, I love their physicality on both sides of the ball. So across board, we were really happy with how last week ended. We’ve just got to stop the penalties and make sure we finish our blocks.”
The Warriors defeated Homer, 36-14, back on Oct. 7 in a meeting of Class B division leaders at Indian River.
“It was probably one of our toughest games, but we know what we have to do and we’re practicing it and we’re practicing at full force to get ready for it,” McMahon said of facing Homer.
Indian River knows what’s it’s facing with Homer, which is power-running team, not unlike the Warriors.
“We know from just one game that they’re pretty darn good,” Marsell said. “They’re not doing anything different, they gave (running back Sam) Sorensen the ball 39 times, so their offensive line looks the same, good, they’re well-coached and are an aggressive defense. And their quarterback can do some good things as well.”
“We’re both kind of power teams, it’s going to be a dogfight, I think,” McMahon said. “Until one team gets that spark, one team wears down the other, until then it’s going to be a game of inches.”
Indian River possesses a diversified rushing attack, led by juniors Derek Jones (91 carries for 1,078 yards, 16 touchdowns) and Kane Lynch (109 carries for 1,013 yards, 10 touchdowns). In addition, junior Ethan Hattori has run for 817 yards and eight touchdowns, while McMahon, a fullback, has run for three scores this season.
“Our offense is a double wing,” Marsell said. “We can great creative, there’s some things we do a little bit differently than other teams. So our goal is just to have backs moving in every direction, confuse a little bit and have some good blocking angles and be physical.”
The Warriors also possess, a steady aggressive defense, which is a tradition at the school.
“Defensively, our front five are doing a fantastic job with everything, we’ve got to keep doing that,” Marsell said. “And our linebackers have done well as well. So really, we don’t have any superstars, we’ve just got a lot of guys doing their job.”
“I feel like we’re ready for them, we’ve just got to work hard, make sure our defense comes, make sure our offense comes, hit them hard,” said Dewaine, who plays at tackle on the offensive line as well as at linebacker. “Just play really good with your best game.”
Also very balanced, General Brown will face Holland Patent for the second time this season. The Lions rolled to a 48-6 home win against the Golden Knights on Oct. 7.
“We’ve played this already, so they know what we’re going to see,” Black said. “I think it’s going to be a hard-nosed battle, they run the ball, we run the ball, it’s going to be a battle of wills.”
Holland Patent is coming off a 25-20 upset win over top-seeded Adirondack in a semifinal last Saturday at Cicero-North Syracuse.
“They have two excellent runners in the backfield, they’ve got a quarterback that can pass and run,” Black said, “and they’ve got a pretty big 6-3 tight end that does a good job getting down the field and catching balls, so it’s really assignment football and having all 11 guys do their job.”
“We beat them pretty well last time,” Malcolm said. “But the fact that they beat No. 1 Adirondack at least has to say something. So I think they’re going to be a whole new team going in, so we’ve got to prepare for them.”
General Brown, which is now ranked No. 10 in the state in Class C, experienced plenty of suspense in its 30-22 semifinal win over Cazenovia last weekend at C-NS.
“It is intense and the kids know it,” Black said. “You get to that fourth quarter and kids know that a Dome trip’s on the line, so our kids did a good job of blocking that out and just playing.”
The Lakers, who were ranked No. 2 in the state in Class C, came back from a double-digit deficit to tie the game in the fourth quarter.
But the Lions responded with an epic 73-yard drive in 13 plays, capped by a six-yard scoring run from Natali to reclaim the lead for good in the final minute.
“Last week was crazy,” Natali said. “I think once we got up we started to get comfortable and they came back and we all got really scared. We thought they were going to be able to pull it out, but the defense held up and our offense pushed down the field and we scored.”
General Brown also sports a balanced run game, led by seniors Natali (107-907, 15 touchdowns) and Gabe Malcolm (79-823, 10 touchdowns), along with senior fullback Sheamus Devine (104-647, nine TDs) and junior quarterback Aiden McManaman (63-455, four touchdowns).
“It’s fun being a center in this type of offense because the defense sometimes doesn’t know where the ball is, it’s exciting,” said General Brown sophomore center Brock McManaman, who is Aiden’s younger brother. “We’ve got so many good backs.”
Aiden McManaman has also completed 34 of 49 passes for 697 yards and six touchdowns in his first season starting at the varsity level.
The Lions’ defense has also been steady this season, as they’ve yielded only 106 points in nine games this season, along with recording three shutouts.
“I think they’ve done very well adjusting to different styles,” Black said. “Last week with Cazenovia, they had an excellent quarterback who could run and throw, sort of a dual threat, so you try and make him one dimensional and our defense did a good job of that.”
“They’re very physical,” Natali said of Holland Patent. “It’s going to be tough to match them with that, their physicality is a lot higher than it was last time. They’ve got their players back that were injured.”
Both Black and Marsell are pleased to be coaching their teams this time of year, but realize the opportunity each possesses.
“Not including COVID, we’ve made it seven out of nine (seasons),” Marsell said. “I mean that’s awesome, but our main goal is we’ve got to finish. All week that’s been our focus, we’ve got to finish. Finish our tackles, finish our blocks, finish our practices and finish the game on Sunday.”
“I think we’ve got a good opportunity if we play good, fundamental football,” Black said.
Johnson Newspapers 7.1
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