Chittenango A pair of one-point escapes against East Syracuse-Minoa and Cortland may have scared the Chittenango football team straight - or at least reminded them that the path to back-to-back Section III Class B titles might not be as smooth as it seemed earlier this fall.
With this in mind, the Bears welcomed Vernon-Verona-Sherrill in Friday night's opening round of the Class B playoffs - and proceeded to run all over them, scoring 35 unanswered points in the first half and going on to beat the Red Devils 42-6.
This sends Chittenango (8-0), no. 3 in the state rankings, to the Class B semifinals, where it will take on Oneida, who needed a fourth-quarter touchdown to fight past Cortland 20-12 in its opening-round game. They'll meet Friday night at 5 p.m. at Rome Free Academy Stadium, just before the other Class B semifinal between Cazenovia and Camden.
Even though VVS was a fourth-place finisher in the Class B East division, the Bears were smart enough not to take them lightly, which translated into an early onslaught reminiscent of the team's September romps.
Twice in the first quarter, Chittenango moved deep into Red Devils territory, and both times finished off the drives with short touchdown runs as quarterback Devin Phelps scored from three yards out and Kyle Zimmer found the end zone on a two-yard dive.
But Phelps was saving his best work for the second quarter. He scored for the second time on a one-yard run, and then put VVS away with two big plays.
First, Phelps, from his own 44-yard line, followed the deft blocks of the Bears' imposing defensive line and took off on a 56-yard dash to the end zone. Then, just before the half, he found Josh Cretaro on a 28-yard TD pass.
Just for good measure, Phelps tacked on a 33-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter, all part of a night where he ran for 101 yards on just seven carries and completed four of six passes for 125 yards, an average of more than 31 yards per completion.