ENDICOTT, N.Y. — Next stop: Endicott.
Herkimer’s Section III-champion Magicians head south Friday night for Class D regional play at Union-Endicott as they enter what is now known as the NYSPHSAA Football Championships presented by the American Dairy Association & Dairy Council for the second time in three years. The Magicians (9-1) meet Section IV’s Tioga (10-0) at 7 p.m. in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.
The Magicians enter state play with an eight-game winning streak after beating Sandy Creek 43-14 in the sectional title game in the Carrier Dome. The championship is the third in a row for Herkimer which won titles in Class C in 2011 and Class C-2 in a split field in 2012 before dropping down in class this fall. The 2011 Magicians also made the trip south for regional play and were beaten 26-13 by Waverly at Binghamton High School.
Tioga is ranked second in the state — Herkimer is sixth — and is also entering the state playoffs with a third consecutive sectional title. The Tigers won their 2013 championship last weekend with an 80-53 victory over Unatego that saw Tioga scored 43 points in the second quarter; the Tigers led the Spartans 59-12 at halftime.
Tioga has won the last two Class D Central Region playoffs. The Tigers followed Waverly’s win in 2011 with a 55-34 victory over Westmoreland then beat Sandy Creek 54-13 last fall.
Herkimer itself is capable of piling up points. The Magicians have scored in the opening minute in each of their last two playoff games and they put up 50 points before halftime against Sauquoit Valley. Senior quarterback Austin Mills has rushed and passed for more than 1,000 yards, throwing 17 touchdown passes and running for 23.
Friday’s winner heads to Rochester for semifinal play next weekend against either Section V Red Jacket or Section VI Randolph, the defending state champion. The championship game will be played at noon Nov. 29 in the Carrier Dome.
New names for New York’s football and boys’ and girls’ basketball playoffs were announced Wednesday as part of a presenting level corporate sponsorship agreement between the New York State Public High School Athletic Association and the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council. The agreement runs through August of 2016.