It might only be Sunday, but as expected, Randolph coach Brent Brown has already done some homework on Chester.
I talked to Brown and, when asked about Chester, he quickly signaled out the Hambletonians’ three most dangerous players: Quarterback Vinny Aloi, running back Angel Suarez and wide receiver Brandon Sadlier.
Another thing stood out to Brown: “Chester looks bigger up front than last year.”
As far as Chester’s “Big Three”, Brown added: “The tailback is fast, he’s been pretty good the last few weeks. I know the quarterback can throw it and the wide receiver is difficult to cover. We will approach it as we will try to stop the run first. At this level, if they can throw, it will be tough to stop.”
Chester and Randolph meet for the Class D state championship at noon on Saturday at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. Randolph (11-1) defeated Chester 42-13 for last year’s Class D state title and is seeking its third championship in a row.
Only four football teams have won three straight titles since the state began a full playoff format in 1993 – Section IV’s Maine-Endwell (Class A 2011, Class B 2012-13), Section V’s Hornell (Class B, 2009-2011), Section I’s Edgemont (Class C, 1998-2000) and Section V’s Caledonia-Mumford (Class C 1993, Class D 1994-95).
Randolph (11-1) graduated only six starters from last season’s team, but that included its entire backfield – quarterback Mitchell Maycock and running backs Chris Doubek and Lucas Brown. Doubek rushed for 273 yards with three touchdowns against Chester last year and finished his career with 2,352 yards.
The key players for Randolph this year are also impressive. Quarterback Bryce Morrison has passed for 1,200 yards with 16 touchdowns and rushed for 700 yards. Tailback Devyn Nelson has rushed for 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns. Tight end Mason Bosley, who is 6-foot, 220 pounds, has caught 10 touchdown passes.
Put simply, Randolph blew Chester off the ball last year, and the Buffalo-area champion has two more big guys mixing it up in the trenches: Michael Bowers is 6-foot-4, 290 pounds and Jeff Andrews is 6-2, 260. Both players are two-way linemen.
According to Brown, Randolph is playing some of its best ball of the season. The Cardinals have won 11 in a row since losing to Maple Grove, a Class C school, 24-12 to open the season. Brown said Randolph has really developed during the playoffs.
Randolph defeated rival Ellicottville 28-0 in the Buffalo-area Class D championship, following that up with a tough 19-12 win over Red Jacket in the state quarterfinals. The Cardinals defeated Tioga 20-8 in the semifinals.
“It hasn’t been easy this year,” Brown said. “It’s hard to replace that kind of talent. But I think we have really turned a corner. I think the kids realized that we have to get things done by ourselves. We can’t rely on the players from last year. Every week, we have gotten better, and more confident.”
As far as going for the state championship three-peat, Brown said: “Of course, it would feel great. That’s not something we wanted to talk about at the beginning of the season. There is a lot of pressure on these kids because the town is so used to winning. But the kids have definitely been thinking about it. Now that we are here, it is definitely one of our goals.”