The Times
  • SCHOLASTIC FOOTBALL: Sauquoit Valley deals Dolgeville first defeat

  • SEPTEMBER 29 SCHOLASTIC FOOTBALL A Sauquoit Valley team on the verge of making a statement got its point across on Saturday. Facing a state-ranked Class D East rival for the second time in as many weeks, the Indians put together one long drive and their defense did...
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    A Sauquoit Valley team on the verge of making a statement got its point across on Saturday.
    Facing a state-ranked Class D East rival for the second time in as many weeks, the Indians put together one long drive and their defense did the rest as Sauquoit Valley hammered out a 13-0 victory over previously-unbeaten Dolgeville at Bill Bynon Field.
    “Today, we got it,” Sauquoit Valley senior co-captain and middle linebacker Matt Wheelock said, referring to last week’s near miss — a 14-7 loss to undefeated West Canada Valley — and the Indians’ biggest win in recent memory.
    “We’re trying to make a name for ourselves, and we came out today and showed that we’re one of the elite teams in this league.”
    Dolgeville was 4-0 and ranked 10th in the state after knocking off No. 3 Westmoreland 20-18. But the Blue Devils, who had not been shut out in 50 straight games — not since losing a nonleague season opener to Class C Herkimer 19-0 in 2007 — did not reach the red zone until late in the fourth quarter.
    They had driven from their own 3 to just inside Sauquoit’s 10-yard line, too. But the run was stopped cold by 6-foot-4, 230-pound Jordan Montgomery, who also tipped away a third-down pass, and Colin Jackson sacked quarterback Reid Johnson on fourth-and-goal.
    There was still 4:47 left to play and Dolgeville’s defense, led by junior tackles Austin Kollbeck and James Brys and sophomore linebacker Kasey Foster, quickly forced a three-and-out. But just when it look like the Blue Devils would have great field position and another shot at erasing a 7-0 deficit, Rob Slivinski’s punt was muffed by sophomore Johann Doerrer, Sauquoit Valley’s Alex Voce recovered it, and moments later, senior tailback Conner O’Neill bolted 53 yards for the clinching score with 1:36 remaining.
    “We’re going in the right direction now,” O’Neill said, the Indians — for many years a Class C team — looking for their first winning season since 2004. “We had a positive attitude coming into this game and we just put it to them.”
    O’Neill, one of 21 Sauquoit Valley seniors, was held in check for much of the day, but he finished with 105 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries.
    He and Voce did most of the grunt work when Sauquoit (3-2, 2-1 D East) marched 80 yards in 15 plays, but O’Neill’s one-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal was set up by Slivinski’s playmaking. The senior quarterback connected with R.J. Spinella for 27 yards on thirdrd-and-10, and later threw a 17-yard strike to Justin Dempsey on fourth-and-7.
    “Rob made some big plays when we needed him to,” said Sauquoit Valley’s first-year head coach Rocky Corigliano.
    Voce also returned a punt 60 yards early in the third quarter, but that scoring threat ended when Doerrer made a diving interception at his own 3.
    Page 2 of 2 - Austin LaVeck led Dolgeville (4-1, 2-1 D East) with 78 tough yards on 22 carries. Johnson was 8 for 19 passing for 100 yards, but he was intercepted twice — by Tom Jalowiec and Justin Jarecki — and the Blue Devils’ only run over nine yards was a 31-yard burst by Jason Nastovski.
    “They’ll come right at you, but you just have to be as mean as they are. You just have to hit them as hard as they hit you,” said Wheelock, the heart of a Sauquoit Valley defense led by linemen Montgomery, Zack Thomas, Jackson, Voce and Ethan Harris and linebackers Wheelock, Jalowiec and O’Neill.
    “We just couldn’t spring one,” said Dolgeville coach Chris Connolly.
    Defensive end Harris led Sauquoit with 12 tackles. Wheelock had nine and O’Neill eight.
    “We’ve been close, and this win is a huge, huge step for the program,” said Corigliano. “It’s one thing to come here and not be intimidated, it’s another thing to go out and perform, and our kids did that today.
    “Dolgeville’s a hard-nosed football team and we knew they were going to come at us, but this week the difference was we didn’t give up the big play.”
    Next up for the Blue Devils is Saturday’s homecoming game against New York Mills. Sauquoit Valley is home Friday for a game against Mohawk.
    Sauquoit Valley      7    0    0    6 — 13
    Dolgeville      0    0    0    0  —  0
    First Quarter
    SV — Conner O’Neill 1 run (Rob Slivinski kick).
    Fourth Quarter
    SV — O’Neill 53 run (kick failed).
    Records — Sauquoit Valley 3-2, 3-1 D East; Dolgeville 4-1, 3-1 D East.