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High school football: Chenango Forks outmuscles General Brown


ENDICOTT — Coaches often try to put their own spin on a tough loss, seeking to find as much positive as they can despite deep disappointment.

General Brown’s Steve Fisher has been around too long to dwell on moral victories. Yet even the dean of north country coaches told his team after Saturday’s 35-18 loss to Chenango Forks in the state Class C football quarterfinals that they “deserved to feel good” about what they accomplished this year and that such a defeat “should stand as motivation for the returning kids to get into the weight room and try to be as strong as the team that beat you today.”

The Section 4 champion Blue Devils (10-1) scored 28 points over the second and third quarters to pull away after General Brown had drawn within 7-6 with a late first-quarter score. But even two late final period scores by the Section 3 champion Lions (9-2) against second-teamers couldn’t hide the fact that they were physically beaten on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

“They were stronger, bigger and faster than us in all areas,” said General Brown co-captain Rob Pickeral. “You could tell how much time they had spent in the weight room. We just had too may low points today, and the better team won.”

Running back Isaiah Zimmer ran for 178 yards on 29 carries, including a 28-yard touchdown run, to spark the powerful Chenango Forks offense. Using a full-house backfield most of the day, the Blue Devils ground out 337 yards on 51 attempts, nearly seven yards per carry.

“Offensively, it starts up front. It’s become cliche but it’s so true,” said Chenango Forks coach Dave Hogan. “When your line is dominating like we did today, it gives your backs on offense and linebackers on defense so much more freedom just to make plays.”

And while Chenango Forks generated huge chunks of yardage via the ground, General Brown managed only 143 yards on 36 tries. Zech Pitre gained 92 yards on 16 carries, but as Fisher said afterward, “we couldn’t move the ball consistently enough against their first team defense when it really counted.”

Chenango Forks took the opening kickoff and drove 60 yards in nine plays for an opening score. With the Lions’ defense paying so much attention to Zimmer, quarterback J.C. Sweeney hit a wide-open Andrew Ziegenfus for a 6-yard score, and Joe Sylvain booted the PAT.

The Lions answered immediately with their best drive of the game, marching 69 yards in 12 plays. An Evan Will 22-yard scramble set up Will’s 19-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Cumberbatch. However, Jacob Wojasinski’s PAT was blocked.

“We felt pretty good at that point because I think we proved we could move the ball,” Pitre said. “Unfortunately, we kept making little mistakes that really cost us.”

L.J. Watson began the Chenango Forks scoring parade by taking a pitch and going 33 yards for an early second-quarter score. And after Pitre fumbled, Sweeney and Ziegenfus combined for a second score, a 26-yarder, and Sylvain’s third PAT suddenly increased the Forks lead to 21-6.

General Brown punted on its final two series of the opening half. Zimmer tacked on a 28-yard TD scamper midway through the period as the Blue Devils went to intermission comfortably in front, 28-6.

“Against a team like that who likes to control the ball, making first downs is crucial and we didn’t make enough,” Fisher said. “We didn’t get 11 guys playing every play. And our tackling was very poor most of the game.”

Watson all but ended any chances of a Lions’ comeback by returning a Derek Webb punt 68 yards for another score just two minutes into the third quarter.

“Our special teams were great today,” Hogan said. “We have a lot of respect for General Brown and coach Fisher, and we knew they would never quit.”

Pitre passed to Jared Christopher for a 26-yard score with 5 1/2 minutes left in the game. Joe Pitre scored the final General Brown touchdown on a 2-yard run in the final two minutes.

“There’s no doubt we overachieved this season,” Fisher said. “But these kids should be very proud of what they did for themselves, their school and their community. We’ll be back.”


Queensbury totaled 418 yards in total offense and led 21-0 at halftime en route to a state Class A quarterfinal victory over Massena in Clifton Park.

The Spartans (11-0) held the Red Raiders to 83 total yards.

J.P. Reagan led Massena (7-3) with 73 yards rushing on 18 carries.

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