By Jay Young
The top-ranked Randolph Cardinals have faced some explosive offensive players this season, and at noon Friday in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class D championship game inside the Carrier Dome in Syracuse they will have to contend with yet another, this time from third-ranked Chester.
Seniors Cody Oldro (79), Nick Hettenbaugh and the rest of the Randolph Cardinals will meet Chester of Section 9 in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class D championship game at noon Friday at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
Last week against Moriah in the state semifinal, the junior quarterback threw for a state-record tying seven touchdowns in a 55-14 victory.
"We've only seen two films on them so far, but, obviously, we noticed those seven scores last week," Randolph coach Brent Brown said.
Averaging 46 points per game, the Hambletonians (10-1), who have advanced to the title game two of the past three years, have proven that finding the end zone has not been a problem. Then again, they haven't faced a team like Randolph (12-0), the defending state champions and owners of a 23-game winning streak.
The Cardinals have made short work of dynamic rushers in their last two wins against Tioga and Red Jacket. Now, they'll likely have to find a way to contend with the guy behind center.
'"You aren't going to go and change your whole defense at this point in the year," Randolph assistant coach Kevin Hind said. "Obviously, we have worked on some specific things for Friday, but we'll stick with what got us here."
That plan makes plenty of sense considering the performance of opposing offenses in the Cardinals' last two games. In those contests, the quarterbacks were a combined 0-for-19 with two interceptions against Brown's defensive squad.
Out of the backfield the Hambletonians will likely split carries between three different rushers, Lawrence Young, Matt Perry, and Mike Volkmer.
"They like to run a lot of blocking two-tight end sets with multiple guys in the backfield," Brown said.
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Those tightly packed formations could play to the Cardinals' size advantage as Cody Oldro has been a rock at middle linebacker all season. The play of edge rushers Jeff Andrews and Michael Bowers will also be a deciding factor. If Aloi finds himself under pressure to while throwing, it might be difficult for the Chester offense to find a rhythm.
A big part of Randolph getting back to Syracuse has been a sensational year from halfback Chris Doubek. The senior will enter the game with 2,263 yards, just 184 shy of the NYS single-season record set by Dustin Bowser of the Southwestern Trojans in 2003.
Against Tioga, Doubek's stout rushing was complemented by the offensive and defensive play of Bryce Morrison, who defines ''skill position'' for Randolph.
"This might be the best group of skill players we have ever had, and Bryce is one of those guys," Hind said. "He is able to play easily at both quarterback and receiver. We got to see him throw and catch last game so you know what he is capable of."
Morrison also picked off Tigers' quarterback Ryan Vergason to close out the semifinal win.
Of course, if the game turns into an aerial battle, Cardinals starter Mitchell Maycock is more than up to the challenge.
Maycock was named offensive MVP in the Randolph's quarterfinal win over Red Jacket, throwing for 128 yards and two scores, while adding a rushing touchdown. In total, he has amassed 20 scores and 950 yards of passing.
"Now we know that with Mitch we can complete those big passes, it really opens things up," Brown said.
The Cardinals have won three state championships - in 2005, 2009 and last season, all under longtime coach Pat Slater, who retired after the 2012 campaign.
Brown, in his first year as head coach, would certainly love to add No. 4 to Randolph's glowing football resume.