Preview: Chester chasing dream finish
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New York State Class D championship
Chester (12-0) vs. Letchworth (11-1)
When: Friday, 11 a.m.
Where: Carrier Dome, Syracuse
State rankings: Chester — 2. Letchworth — 1.
State championship history
Chester and Letchworth are both making their first appearance in the state title game.
Did you know? Chester is the first team from Class C or D from Section 9 to reach the state title game. The Hambletonians are just the eighth Section 9 team to make the trip – out of 93 all-time champions. Monroe-Woodbury did it four time and Cornwall, Wallkill and Rondout Valley each did it once.
|9/9||at Sullivan West||W 42-38|
|9/24||at Liv Manor/Roscoe||W 49-34|
|10/1||at Fallsburg||W 38-6|
|10/22||at Ticonderoga||W 36-7|
|11/4||Liv Manor/Roscoe||W 41-9|
|9/2||at Wellsville||L 20-18|
|9/30||at Warsaw||W 55-0|
|10/7||Le Roy||W 42-7|
|10/14||at Avon||W 44-0|
|11/11||Maple Grove||W 30-14|
Scouting the opponent
Xs and Os: Letchworth is a spread offense team that’s run-first but will put the ball in the air from start to finish. They have a strong-armed QB, a big offensive line, an explosive running back and a host of capable receivers. This is as complete a team you’ll find in Class D football.
Ryan Owens, Sr., QB/DB/K: The 6-foot-5 Owens is a dynamic player. He’s thrown for 1,063 yards and 11 touchdowns, completing 62-percent of his passes while rushing for 463 yards and seven scores.
Chris Nevinger, Sr., RB/LB: A bowling ball in the backfield, Nevinger is a 5-7, 175-pounder who’s put up 1,814 yards and 24 touchdowns on the year. He’s gone over 200 yards in a game four times and rushed under 165 just once.
Clifton Bacon and Christian Coniglio, Sr., WRs: The receiving duo has combined for 49 of the team’s 69 receptions and each has caught five touchdowns. Bacon is 6-foot-5 and Coniglio is a 5-10 slot receiver.
Jordan Andrews, Sr., T/DE: The 6-foot-5, 235-pounder will be the toughest matchup for Chester because of his size and quickness.
Path to victory: Chester — Set the tone early. The more possessions Letchworth has the worse Chester’s chances are of winning this game. There’s going to be a lot of pressure on not just Saxon Smith, but QB Anthony Ognibene to make things happen running the option, take the attention away from Smith and keep the chains moving. The offensive and defensive line will likely have to put up their performance of the year, as well, against a far bigger Letchworth front.
Path to victory: Letchworth — Chester really hasn’t faced a team that’s as committed to passing the ball the way Letchworth is. Owens’ completion of percentage was certainly bolstered by going 20 for 25 in two state tournament games and three of his five interceptions came in a Week 1 loss to Wellsville. If Letchworth go pass-first and mix Levinger in, it will be extremely tough to beat.
Devaney’s pick: Chester’s run to the state championship game has been a remarkable one, and last week’s win over Cambridge proved that it’s not all about Saxon Smith. The Hambletonians have talent up and down the roster, and their confidence couldn’t be higher. While this isn’t the best matchup for Chester, this season feels destined to end with a title. PREDICTION: Chester 27, Letchworth 24
Email Kevin Devaney Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org