The Post-Journal

Simply The Best

SYRACUSE – “Records don’t mean anything. State champions mean something.”

That was the way Jamestown running back David Hinson summed things up Saturday night after the Red Raiders hung on for a 26-20 win over the North Rockland Red Raiders in the Class A state championship football game at the Carrier Dome.

Hinson scored three touchdowns to tie the state record of 35 in a season. However, early in the season when he was recording five - and four- touchdown games and eventually setting the Western New York rushing record, the talented senior said his main goal was a state title.

But there are some more records. Jamestown finishes the season at 13-0, a school record. And it came into the game ranked No. 2 in the state behind North Rockland, which ends the season at 11-1.

And records fell for North Rockland. Its 36-game win streak is over and the loss gives the Thiells school a 104-5-1 record over the past nine years.

So what’s next for Jamestown? Is there another game next week?

”No way,” said Coach Wally Huckno. ”I’m going to be the athletic director now for the rest of the year.”

The teams are now even since North Rockland defeated Jamestown in last year’s Class A title game, 25-12, which was the last loss for Huckno’s club.

”I would hate to play North Rockland next week,” he said. ” I would hate to play them the week after that. Maybe in 10 times it would be five (wins) each.”

But it didn’t appear Jamestown minded playing North Rockland in the opening 17 minutes when it jumped out to a 19-0 lead.

North Rockland won the coin toss, but deferred. Jamestown took the opening kickoff and drove 67 yards in 10 plays to score on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Andy McMaster to Aaron Barnett.

”It was just a perfect throw and I watched it in,” Barnett said. ”I looked and turned around and nobody was there. I said, ‘I’ve just got to take this in. We’ve got to take the lead right away on the first drive.”’

Chris John’s extra point kick was blocked to keep the lead at 6-0, but it went to 12-0 on Jamestown’s next possession when it drove 85 yards in eight plays to score again.

Hinson had a 57-yard run in the middle of the drive and scored the touchdown on a 3-yard plunge.

At that point he had carried the ball 10 times and had 109 yards.

He finished with 31 carries for 175 yards, his largest rushing total since the sixth regular-season game. He has 2,241 yards for the year.

”We felt David Hinson had to have a big game,” Huckno said. ”We’ve ridden with him through the good times and when he was injured a little bit it was tough for us.

”The boys up front did the job.”

Hinson said: ”I just happened to have a good game today.”

North Rockland was forced to punt again on its next possession because it had minus-4 yards rushing and 24 passing. But Jamestown’s offense continued to roll as Hinson scored again from 10 yards out and John’s extra point was good for a 19-0 lead with 7:06 left in the first half.

”We had to do some things that we weren’t used to doing,” North Rockland coach Joe Cassarella said was the reason for his team’s sluggish offense. ”We got off our regular game plan. I thought we could run the ball a little more. We had trouble running the ball, so we had to go passing the ball all the time.”

How much trouble did North Rockland have running? Their leading rusher during the season, Marcus Larkins, carried the ball seven times for minus-17 yards. Only once did he not run for minus yardage and that was a run for no gain.

”We’ve stopped the run pretty well all year, but we didn’t stop the quarterback,” Huckno said. ”We did everything but stand on our head to stop him.”

North Rockland kept attempting long passes that were overthrown by quarterback Jeff Becker, but the short passes were clicking to help his team score with 35 seconds left in the half.

”We thought we had to stretch the defense once in a while just to keep the short ones open,” Casarella said was the passing strategy.

At halftime, Becker was honored as the state’s Class A Player of the Year and in the second half he showed Jamestown why.

But before he did, John Simmons of North Rockland fumbled on the second play of the half and Barnett recovered it. After a 20-yard completion from McMaster to Geoff Sorenson, four running plays produced a touchdown with the last 6 yards into the end zone by Hinson for his record-tying 35th of the year. John’s kick was good and Jamestown led, 26-6.

Then Becker went to work. After being sacked by Jamie Bloomquist, he had a 15-yard completion and then one for 69 yards to Rich Ciabattoni for a touchdown and Sean Murphy’s extra point kick cut the deficit in half, 26-13.

Jamestown’s offense stalled while North Rockland continued moving with Becker’s throwing. But one North Rockland possession ended with an interception by ninth-grader Cory Itson and another on an interception by McMaster.

Before McMaster’s interception, the senior quarterback had a 43-yard completion to Barnett deep in North Rockland territory. But Barnett fumbled the ball away.

”It would have been nice to see Barnett hold the ball down there on the long pass when we got the fumble because I thought we could put them away,” Huckno said. ”But that’s really a testament to the boys’ character. They just never got down at all.”

But the next time North Rockland got the ball, Becker ran for 16 yards (he was the team’s leading rusher with 27 yards) and he completed two more passes, the last 8 yards to the end zone to Robert Sanchez. Murphy’s kick was again good and Jamestown’s lead was down to 26-20 with 4:09 left.

With 2:11 left to play, North Rockland got the ball back at the 50-yard line and soon were at the 32 after another completion for Becker, who finished 14-for-26. After an incompletion, Bloomquist recorded his third sack of the game. And on the next play Jason Faulk and Andy Benson teamed up for another sack. Becker’s final pass on fouth-and-28 was overthrown and Jamestown had the ball, and a state championship, with 1:13 left.

”Our defense just had to come through,” Bloomquist said. ”It came down to a tight situation and we just pulled it out.”

Part of that defense was McMaster with his interception.

”I was excited about that,” he said. ”The whole second half we kept creating turnovers; our offense kind of stalled and we left it up to our defense and finally came through at the end.”

As for his 3-for-6 passing for 79 yards and a touchdown, McMaster said, ”Actually I didn’t think I played very well, just the first pass for the touchdown,” he said. ”After that I didn’t think I played very well.”

North Rockland came in with a reputation for causing turnovers and had a giveaway-takeaway ratio of plus-12, but it had three turnovers last night while Jamestown had one.

”When you’re running for your life a couple times, he threw the ball away,” Casarella said about the two interceptions. ”The fumble hurt us.”

Huckno was prepared for his team’s turnover.

We talked about it before the game,” he said. ”We said bad things are going to happen; they always do in football games. But don’t get yourself discouraged and dejected. Lift each other up and I think we did that.”

Sixteen Jamestown players took part in last year’s state title loss. Now they have enjoyed a state title game victory. And maybe there could be another on tap because 22 will be returning.

But Huckno and his Red Raiders don’t want to think about that. They want to savor this victory until practice begins in August.

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