CORNING - After their first sectional title since 2014 and third in program history, the Hawks look to make some noise in the state playoffs for the first time ever.
Following the two previous sectional title victories since the East-West merger, in 2010 and 2014, the Hawks have been ousted in the regional round.
While any teams’ goal is to ultimately win a state title at this level, Corning is taking a week-to-week approach as usual. The method has been successful all season.
“All we want to do is what we’ve been doing since the beginning, and that’s go 1-0 each week,” Corning head coach George Bacalles said. “That’s the only focus we have and we’ll let the chips fall where they may.”
Corning’s matchup will be Section III’s Cicero-North Syracuse. Cicero-North Syracuse edged Utica-Proctor in the Section III finals 28-25.
The two teams only have one common opponent, Liverpool. One of Cicero’s two losses came to Liverpool, 10-0, in the second week of the season then Cicero overcame a 21-point deficit to Liverpool in the sectional semifinals in a 38-25 victory.
Corning made quick work of Liverpool at home in week seven, winning 28-0 in a defensive clinic allowing only 109 yards of offense to the Warriors.
The Northstars started off 1-2 in the season, but have rattled off five of their next six games.
“They've been able to, like us, get better every single week,” said Bacalles. “They’re a really good football team and on a hot streak right now.”
Offensively, the Northstars are balanced. CNS running backs have put up 2,803 yards on the ground on 483 attempts, an average of 5.8 yards per carry while the passing game has 112 completions, 1,708 passing yards through the air and 13 passing touchdowns.
“They have a great offense,” said Bacalles. “They can run the ball and throw it. We have to be ready for both aspects of that on defense.”
Running back Michael Brown has been a focal part of the offense for Cicero with 251 yards on 44 carries and three touchdowns in the postseason.
“He had some great windows that his offensive line opened up for him,” Bacalles said. “You can’t allow a dynamic player like him to get any open space so we have to do a good job of closing windows and playing disciplined defense.”
One area Corning will have to improve upon to advance to the state semifinals is putting the ball in the endzone. Against a very good Elmira defense, the Hawks only scored one offensive touchdown.
“We need to do a better job of finishing drives,” said Bacalles. “We weren’t able to do as good of a job the other night against Elmira. We definitely need to against another great opponent.”
Corning and Cicero-North Syracuse will face off at 6 p.m. Saturday at Vestal High School with the Hawks coming in with confidence after the sectional title victory.
“Our confidence level is pretty high, I think we’re feeling good going in as a team,” senior linebacker Seth Hogue said. “We just have to make sure we’re staying level headed like always. Making sure we aren’t satisfied with just the sectional win.”