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Football Lakers return for sectional title defense

Hopsicker, Vogl lead Caz push as Class B champs

— What’s kept the Cazenovia football team at or near the top of the Section III ranks for so long is not a complicated formula.

Combine the hard work of a coaching staff that’s mostly stayed in place for two decades with an uncanny ability to find new players capable of filling the roles of departed seniors, and the result is a whole lot of victories, year after year.

In 2012, that meant 10 consecutive victories in an undefeated regular season that culminated with a second sectional Class B title in three years when it beat neighbor and rival Chittenango in the Carrier Dome before falling to eventual state champion Maine-Endwell in the regional round.

To win it all again in 2013 will require many new names to step up, since 23 seniors, including the likes of Jake Wilson, Ryan Cook, Mark Dewan, Joe Colligan, Billy Bigsby, Jeff Dewan, Nick Tedesco, Nick Bobbett, Cameron Braathen and Matt Staiger, have departed.

But many stars return, too, and again the pipeline is full of potential breakout players, since Cazenovia’s junior varsity team went undefeated a season ago. According to head coach Tom Neidl, of the 40 players expected to hit the field for next Friday night’s season opener at Camden, 25 of them were on last year’s JV squad.

No returning player is more vital to the Lakers’ chances than senior quarterback Kevin Hopsicker. Like other top Cazenovia signal-callers of the past, Hopsicker can capably handle the two formations Neidl will use – a traditional I set with two backs, and then a spread formation from which Hopsicker is more likely to take off downfield if he doesn’t throw the ball.

“He’s extremely smart, and knows our system inside and out,” said Neidl.

Cazenovia is one of the few teams to employ the spread and traditional formation in relatively equal measures, though Neidl said a switch to an emphasis on one formation tends to happen during a game, depending on the circumstances.

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