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Monday, Dec. 2, 2019: Chenango Forks captures sixth football championship

   Leading off today: Chenango Forks broke open a 6-6 game late in the first half and rolled to a 38-14 victory over Schuylerville for the NYSPHSAA Class B football championship Sunday in Syracuse.

   Lucas Scott rushed for 305 yards and three touchdowns as the Blue Devils earned their sixth state crown in the sport and fourth in the past seven seasons. Sophomore Dubbs Haqq rushed for 108 yards and Forks' first and last TDs, and Jack Zimmerman intercepted two passes.

   "It's amazing. I've been dreaming about this day since I started playing football when I was 5 years old. It's awesome," said two-way lineman Hunter Gibbore.

   Schuylerville tied the game 1:24 after a Forks score as Owen Sherman found Jack Dwyer with a 44-yard TD pass, but the Blue Devils then kicked into high gear.

   Said Scott, who finished his junior season with 2,668 yards, a school record: "Our line wore them down. We started figuring out what they were doing and we took it to them."

   Ray Austin connected with Ethan Brown for a 33-yard TD in the waning seconds of the half for an 18-6 advantage, and Forks opened the third quarter with a 12-play, 66-yard drive capped by Scott's 4-yard run.

   Looking ahead: We can guarantee that Chenango Forks will not repeat as the Class B champions next fall. That's because the Blue Devils -- as well as Schuylerville -- will be moving down to Class C for the 2020 season.

   That's no small matter, either. Schuylerville has played in two state finals in five years. Chenango Forks has played in a record 12 state finals and three-peated in Class C from 2013-15.

   In fact, there will be considerable shifting as a result of new classification cutoffs approved this past summer by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association's Executive Committee. With New York State Education Department BEDS data having been received and approved by the NYSPHSAA in the fall, our Steve Grandin ran the numbers and came up with the following projected classification changes:

School Sec. 2019 2020
Fox Lane 1 A AA
Spring Valley 1 AA A
Mahopac 1 AA A
Bronxville 1 B C
Croton-Harmon 1 B C
Hastings 1 B C
Blind Brook 1 B C
Columbia 2 A AA
Niskayuna 2 AA A
Gloversville 2 A B
Green Tech 2 A B
Schuylerville 2 B C
Johnstown 2 B C
Ichabod Crane 2 B C
*Lake George/Hadley-Luzerne 2 C D
Rensselaer 2 C D
*Canajoharie/Fort Plain 2 C D
Stillwater 2 C D
Hoosick Falls 2 C D
Voorheesville 2 C D
*Cambridge/Salem 2 C D
Greenwich 2 C D
Hoosic Valley 2 C D
Fayetteville-Manlius 3 AA A
Phoenix 3 B C
Solvay 3 B C
*Cazenovia/DeRuyter 3 B C
*Port Byron/Union Springs 3 C D
Herkimer 3 C D
Cato-Meridian 3 C D
Binghamton 4 AA A
Chenango Valley 4 B C
Norwich 4 B C
Oneonta 4 B C
Chenango Forks 4 B C
Waverly 4 B C

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  • School Sec. 2019 2020
    Newark Valley 4 C D
    *Harpursville/Afton 4 C D
    Sidney 4 C D
    Victor 5 A AA
    Penfield 5 AA A
    Hornell 5 B C
    Livonia 5 B C
    Marcus Whitman 5 C D
    Avon 5 C D
    *Cal-Mum/Byron-Bergen 5 C D
    Williamsville North 6 A AA
    Jamestown 6 AA A
    Lockport 6 AA A
    West Seneca East 6 A B
    Tonawanda 6 B C
    Lackawanna 6 B C
    Alden 6 B C
    Newfane 6 B C
    *Eden/North Collins 6 B C
    Portville 6 C D
    *Silver Creek/Forestville 6 C D
    Saranac Lake 7 C D
    Lawrence 8 A B
    Wantagh 8 A B
    Clarke 8 A B
    Malverne 8 B C
    Oyster Bay 8 B C
    Friends Academy 8 C D
    *Warwick/Seward 9 A AA
    Monticello 9 A B
    Saugerties 9 A B
    New Paltz 9 A B
    West Islip 11 AA A
    Shoreham-Wading River 11 A B
    Center Moriches 11 B C
    Babylon 11 B C
    * -- Merged program
       More than 20 NYSPHSAA tournament-eligible teams will slide from Class B to C, and a comparable amount will make the switch from C to D. The exact numbers will depend upon offseason factors such as program mergers (or breakups) and private or charter schools being reclassified by their sections.

       The shuffling is the result of significant changes to the cutoffs, which are adjusted every two years, in the lower classifications. The need to beef up Class D, decimated by the combining of teams as well as the rapid growth of eight-man football, played a significant role in the wholesale movement of teams.

    Class 2018 & '19 cutoffs 2020 & '21 cutoffs
    Class AA 1,025-over 1,025-over
    Class A 585-1,024 630-1,024
    Class B 355-584 397-629
    Class C 230-354 261-396
    Class D 229-under 260-under

       In most cases, schools moving down a class are doing so not because of a drop in enrollment but because of the new cutoffs. In the case of this weekend's Class B finalists, Chenango Forks' BEDS number drops only from 357 to 354 and Schuylerville's moves from 366 to 347.

       A few more notes about the new-look alignments next fall:

        • Section 2 has nine teams moving down from Class C to D, the prime example of how some sections will be facing dramatic changes in regular-season divisional alignments.

        • There are 14 teams currently state-ranked that will be moving down a class. Fifth-ranked Stillwater, No. 7 Cambridge/Salem (a state Class D champ in 2016 and '17), No. 10 Cato-Meridian, No. 14 Greenwich, No. 18 Portville and No. 20 Saranac Lake are all scheduled to move from C to D. Throw in Avon and Cal-Mum/Byron-Bergen from Section 5 and Newark Valley from Section 4 and we're looking at a newly loaded class.

       Besides Forks and Schuylerville, Class B No. 9 Solvay and No. 12 Livonia will bring some muscle to Class C in 2020.

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