The 2013 season will go down as one of the most memorable ones for fans of high school football.
Two teams from the north country have already won championships in Section 10. Ogdensburg Free Academy defeated Potsdam in overtime Nov. 1 by a score of 28-26 to take the Class C title. And Malone bested Gouverneur 27-7 on Saturday to claim the Class B crown.
To add to the excitement, five local schools will head to the Carrier Dome in Syracuse this weekend to compete for titles in Section 3. Indian River in Philadelphia and Carthage will play Saturday for the Class A championship; General Brown in Dexter will meet Immaculate Heart Central in Watertown on Sunday for the Class C title; and Sandy Creek in Lacona will play Saturday for the Class D crown against Herkimer, a high school located southwest of Utica.
In Section 3, Thousand Islands also posted an impressive year. The Vikings played against IHC in a semifinal matchup, with the Cavaliers nudging a win by a score of 13-12. Thousand Islands was hoping to return to the Carrier Dome for the first time since 2008, when it lost the Class D championship to Dolgeville.
The quarterfinals action in Section 3 caught the attention of John Day, longtime prep sports writer and columnist for the Watertown Daily Times.
Even the most ardent of local high school football supporters were amazed and excited with last weekends sweep of Section 3 football quarterfinals, he wrote Nov. 1. Having followed and covered Frontier League football and now Section 3 football for 40 years, a 6-0 sweep, as far as the records Ive been able to uncover, is unprecedented. Since Section 3 began playoffs in 1979, weve had our fair share of sectional champions from the North Country 14 to be exact. But to have all of the local qualifiers advance on the first weekend. Well, thats pretty special.
Our columnist hit the nail on the head in analyzing why the local football teams proved so effective this season.
I was thinking earlier this week about some of the reasons for such success. The bottom line is these six teams play hard, execute well and dont beat themselves, Mr. Day wrote. There is an abundance of talent, to be sure, but team chemistry and knowing their roles is almost as important.
However, you need look no further than at the top for one of the significant reasons why these six teams are achieving at a high level. Strong leadership, in the form of veteran head coaches, is the one key ingredient that all of the teams possess.
For two local teams to have already won championships and five more schools to compete for three titles this weekend is a prep sports fans dream come true. The success of all these teams is a testament to the athletic training and game preparation of the coaching staffs and the commitment of the schools to field quality programs.
We wish all the student-athletes from the north country the best of luck in this weekends matches. They should know that their many supporters will be watching and cheering them on, waiting for the heat of competition to bring out the best in each of them.