At first glance, looking at the body of work logged by our six Chenango County football teams, nothing appears to jump off the page, so to speak.
Greene, for the third time in four years, registered the best overall record, yet failed to make the Class C playoffs. Down the line, B-G recorded its seventh straight winning season and third playoff appearance in four years. As you dig a little deeper, you’ll realize that the makeup of this year’s ballclubs – and the 24 all-star selections on our pages today – are more the blue-collar, under-the-radar individuals constantly nipping at your heels.
Here’s one statistic that reveals the competitiveness: For only the second time since all six grid outfits joined the Section IV Football Conference in 1995, every team recorded at least four victories. Aside from the Bobcats, Norwich made the playoffs a fourth straight year, and Sherburne-Earlville qualified for the Section III playoffs for the first time since leaving Section IV over a decade ago. Every club was in position to have a winning season, and all but one club had a chance to reach the playoffs as late as week seven.
None of the ballclubs was tearing it up offensively week after week, nor was any team playing defense like Chicago’s famed “Monsters of the Midway.” What we did see was steady production, and some record-breaking individual efforts at three schools.
Returning all-star, Oxford senior Paul Wonka, broke his school’s all-time rushing mark in week seven, and in his final game wearing a Blackhawks uniform, established a new all-time Chenango County rushing mark finishing his career with 3,726 rushing yards in 32 career games.
Perhaps the biggest surprises were B-G senior fullback Jake Mazzarella and Unadilla Valley quarterback Kurt Haycook. Mazzarella, following a long line of great B-G backs, set a new single-season school rushing record, and he did so on the final drive of his career totaling 1,365 yards, while rushing for a county-best 18 scores. “For whatever reason, we’ve continued to have running backs come in and do a great job for us,” said B-G coach Tim Mattingly, who has had four different running backs rush for over 1,000 yards over the past six seasons.
Haycook never started a varsity game at quarterback until this year. He proceeded to set a Unadilla Valley record throwing for 953 yards and 13 scores, while also completing better than 51 percent of his passes. Haycook’s quarterback rating of 135 (based on the NCAA computation method), was 30 points better than any other starting quarterback in Chenango County.
While not a record performance, Oxford receiver Andrew Golden became the first person in 14 years to record as many as 40 catches in season. (The last person to do it was Oxford grad Ronny Smith). Golden’s 87 career catches, according to our statistics, is second in Oxford history behind Smith.
Golden and Wonka are two of nine returning all-stars. Making it two straight appearances in this issue are B-G’s Austin Bauerle and Corbin Palmer; Norwich’s Grant Brightman and Kyle Edwards; Austin Jasper of Sherburne-Earlville; and Unadilla Valley’s Justin Hofer and Kody Homann.
New faces not already mentioned are Greene’s Dan Treadwell, Garrett Huttleston, Trevor Flohr, Chris Kehoe, and Cole Browning; Keagan Franklin, Ryan Hayes, and Mike Oralls of Norwich; Brett Hufnagle of Oxford; and Unadilla Valley’s Richie Conklin and Alex Avolio.
All-Star selections this year were based on our observations of Chenango County players and the recommendations of area head coaches. Players who do not receive a varsity letter from their team are not eligible for the all-star squad. Below we have summarized the seasons of our two-dozen all-stars.
Teams listed Alphabetically
Jake Mazzarella, sr., running back, 5-foot-9, 185 pounds
In his first and only full-time season as a starting running back, all Mazzarella did was establish a new Bainbridge-Guilford single-season rushing record. In his first three games this season, Mazzarella had over 600 yards and eight touchdowns, and he finished with 1,365 yards and 18 touchdowns, both area-best totals. Mazzarella broke the record on his team’s final drive of the season, and capped off his career with a short touchdown run. “He just came into the year in great shape,” said B-G coach Tim Mattingly. “He has tremendous breakaway speed, and is just a physical runner. He really did exceed all of our expectations this season.”
Austin Bauerle, sr., tight end 6-foot-2, 215 pounds
Bauerle was far and away Bainbridge-Guilford’s leading receiver, but he was also a tremendous blocker on the offensive line helping his team average a county-leading 225 yards rushing per game. He finished with 19 catches for 281 yards with a pair of TD receptions. On defense, Mattingly said, he was also a team leader at defensive end. “He has a great set of hands and is such a good route runner,” Mattingly said. “If you throw it anywhere near him, he can make that catch. He did a great job for us on both sides of the ball, and showed tremendous leaderhip this year.”
Corbin Palmer, sr., defensive back/quarterback, 5-foot-10, 165 pounds
Not only was Palmer the quarterback on offense, he was also, arguably, the quarterback of the Bobcats’ defense. In addition to his pass coverage responsibilities, Palmer had a nose for the ball, and was consistently in on tackles. Palmer also directed the only offense that rushed for over 2,000 yards and passed for over 600 yards during the season. He completed 42 percent of his passes and threw for seven scores. “He did as good a job of running our offense as anyone I’ve coached,” Mattingly said. “He is a disciplined, smart kid, and he’s also tough.” Palmer threw for TD passes in seven of nine games, and had a season-best 126 yards passing in a victory over rival Oxford.