ROCHESTER - Some facts and figures gleaned after cleaning out my notebook from Friday's New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class D semifinal football game between Randolph and Tioga ...
It's hard to imagine, but the Cardinals were 1-2 after a Week Three loss at Maple Grove. Now owners of a nine-game winning streak, the Cardinals will likely enter Friday's state title game against Tuckahoe as the No. 1-ranked squad.
''It's always a goal,'' Coach Pat Slater said of reaching the Carrier Dome, the annual site of the championship contest. ''You always hope, but you put that in the back of your head and think, 'You know, if I get there, that's great,' but you know it's a long haul.''
Randolph’s Nathan Beaver, right, and Lucas Brown celebrate the Cardinals’ New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class D west semifinal victory on Friday. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photos by Scott Kindberg
Jordan Dowiasz ran for more than 100 yards, but his defense prevented two touchdowns.
With 10 wins this season, Slater now has 212 for his career and will be making his third trip to the title game. His first two appearances - 2005 and 2009 - resulted in championships.
There have been plenty of outstanding performances during this postseason among area athletes, but Randolph's Cody Oldro had one of the best against Tioga.
The statistics generated from the Sahlen's Stadium pressbox had the junior linebacker with 10 tackles, but Randolph stat man Howie VanRensselaer had Oldro with 15 solo tackles and three assists.
Oldro, though, wasn't about to toot his own horn.
''It all starts up front with our defensive linemen,'' he said. ''They are the guys who help me get my tackles.''
Added Slater: ''It's all designed for him to make tackles. Those kids up front try and keep everybody off him so he can make tackles, those kids are doing a good job and Cody makes tackles.''
So, let's give a tip of the hat to sophomores Michael Bowers and Jeff Andrews and seniors Nathan Beaver and Dylan Faust.
''I've been dreaming about this since I was a little kid,'' Beaver said. ''I watched the 2005 and 2009 teams. It's unreal. I can't even believe it that I get a chance.''
Tioga coach Nick Aiello, a 2002 Allegany-Limestone Central School graduate, suffered his second loss in the semifinals in as many years.
''This is tough,'' said Aiello, who lost to eventual state champion Letchworth in 2011, ''especially in a game where we didn't play well in the fist half. We kept shooting ourselves in the foot. All year long we had these stupid penalties and they hurt us today. ... I'll take the blame for that. The kids have to know where they're supposed to line up and make sure they're on the line. (A) 7-6 (loss) is a tough ballgame.''
Micah Kehoe's successful extra-point kick on the Cardinals' first possession seemed rather routine when it happened.
It took on considerably more importance as the defensive struggle continued. And when the Cardinals stopped a two-point conversion after Tioga's touchdown with 6:10 remaining in the game, Kehoe's boot ended up being the game winner.
That's a kick that the junior, who is also a defenseman on the Cardinals' soccer team, can keep in his memory forever.
Some are more prominent than others, but the Cardinals have been sporting plenty of facial hair this postseason.
''Playoff beards,'' Beaver said.
Slater received an impromptu shower at the conclusion of Friday's game, courtesy of his players, who dumped a cooler filled with water on his head.
''I'm wet and cold,'' he said smiling. ''It's a great night tonight. It's going to make the ride home just super.''
A state championship game preview will appear in The Post-Journal later this week, but here's some information on Tuckahoe, Randolph's opponent on Friday, courtesy of John Moriello of the New York State Sportswriters Association.
''Tuckahoe, which suffered through an 0-2-1 funk in midseason, scored twice in the final 13 minutes to wipe out a deficit and edge Rensselaer 15-12 to reach the Carrier Dome for the fifth time.
''Senior Shyheim Nicon, who became the starting QB when the postseason began, rushed for a team-high 96 yards, including runs of 14 and 16 yards that led to Nick Reisman's two touchdowns.''
Here's a stat to ponder: After trailing Maple Grove 27-0 at halftime in Week Three, the Cardinals' defense has allowed a total of 66 points in the last 38 quarters.
And, finally, senior running back Jordan Dowiasz rushed for 101 yards on 28 carries against Tioga, pushing his season total to, unofficially, 1,642, but if Randolph happens to go on to claim a state title, his two defensive plays in the semifinal will be talked about just as much.
In the first half, he ran down a Tioga runner, who appeared in the clear for a touchdown, while in the second half he tipped away a certain TD reception. Without those two gems, the Cardinals would not be spending Thanksgiving in Syracuse.