2002 Chenango Forks Varsity Football

New York State Class B Semi-Final

Game 12 vs Bath -  Devils win 28-14!


Articles courtesy of the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin,
The Leader (Corning) and The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

to Game 11 - Solvay

to the 2002 team page

 to Game 13 - Harrison

Post-game articles from the The Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin and hopefully soon, the Corning Leader and the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle newspapers follow next on this page (I expect to find articles from those papers on Monday). All three papers also had some preview articles for the game. Those articles are below the stats on this page.  

Forks' passing stuns Bath

Juriga's 3 TDs put Blue Devils in championship

Press & Sun-Bulletin

SYRACUSE -- Indeed, that was Chenango Forks playing football Saturday in the Carrier Dome. Blue uniforms, red helmets, sound and active defense -- uh-huh, those were the Blue Devils, alright.  

But get a load these numbers, the most telling difference-makers in a 28-14 win over Bath that earned Forks a berth in the Class B state final for a second consecutive season:

* The Blue Devils took a first-quarter lead they wouldn't relinquish on a 44-yard, first-down touchdown pass from Matt Juriga to Tim Green.

* They go up top again, Juriga-to-Nick Mirabito for a 21-yard score, and make it 14-6 late in the first quarter.

* Then, on the third play of the second quarter -- again on first down -- it was Juriga to tight end Zach Tarnowski for a 66-yard catch-and-run gem of a score.

By halftime it was 28-6, and the Blue Devils' bread-and-butter running game had given way to ... well ... Air Forks!

The victory earned Forks (12-0) a matchup against Harrison, a 31-21 winner over Lansingburgh in Saturday's other semifinal, in the title game at noon a week from today back at the Carrier Dome. On that day, the Devils will look to secure the title that eluded them in a one-touchdown loss last year to Peru.

The aerial display caught many in the Blue Devils' section of Dome bleachers off guard, and certainly did likewise to Bath (10-1), which came prepared for a steady dose of Forks power.

After all, Chenango Forks doesn't throw the football, right?

"I've been hearing that all season, that we're a one-dimensional team," said Juriga, named Forks' offensive MVP by a state football committee. "Personally, as a quarterback, I take a little offense to that. I have confidence in myself and my teammates that we can throw any time we want.

"We just haven't had to this season."

Make no mistake, on Saturday, against a large, extremely physical Bath defense bent on containing the run, Forks had to throw.

"You think we're going to win that game running it every play against that team?" Forks coach Kelsey Green asked. "They are a bigger, stronger version of the team we saw last year (in a 7-0 overtime win in the state semifinal round). I just didn't think that, consistently, we were going to move the ball down field on them."

And so, Forks passed.

The first score came one play after Forks' Drew Batty intercepted a pass to set up his team at Bath's 44-yard line. Juriga dropped and threw to his left, connected with Tim Green at about the 20-yard line, and Green -- who made the catch with no defender within 10 yards -- made it into the end zone.

Tim Batty's PAT kick made it 7-0 midway through the opening quarter.

Bath's Mark Robinson answered, with an 8-yard TD run that finished a 75-yard drive. But the Rams missed the PAT kick, and it was 7-6.

Not for long.

On Forks' fifth play after the score, Juriga delivered a soft pass into the end zone that Mirabito ripped away from defender Cody Muchler for the TD. Tim Batty's kick made it 14-6 with 1:23 to play in the quarter.

Forks' defense forced Bath three-and-out, took possession after the ensuing punt on its 42-yard line, but was backed up a holding penalty 2 yards into a rush by Kelsey Jenks.

On first-and-18, Juriga threw deep down the Bath sideline and Tarnowski -- 6-foot-3 and 236 pounds of tight end -- made the catch on a dead sprint at the 43-yard line and continued in for his team's third passing TD in 12:40 of game action.

Yes, Bath, there is a Forks passing game.

"They were playing up real tight in the box, and we felt like we could get a couple balls behind their defense," Tarnowski said. "That's exactly what we did."

Mirabito said, "I don't know what was going through coach Green's mind this morning -- but, hey, it worked."

Juriga's only three completions in five attempts went for 131 yards and three TDs. He added 75 yards worth of tough rushing, Forks' second-best behind the 19-carry, 103-yard total of Jenks.

Jenks, named defensive MVP based on his work at nose guard, got into the end zone on a highlight-reel run of 53 yards midway through the second quarter.

Jenks carried the ball to his right, got around the corner, headed down the sideline and blasted through a tackle attempt by the Rams' Dave Putman at the 18-yard line.

A lengthy trip through years worth of film might be required to find the last ballgame in which 75 percent of Forks' TDs in a ballgame were scored via the pass.

"The corner was playing so tight, so we'd go with a little play action and they'd bite, that's why the fly would be wide open," Juriga said.

"It went over our heads a couple of times," Bath coach Wayne Carroll said. "If I had about four plays to do over ... "

With a 28-6 lead in hand, the Blue Devils didn't throw again, instead turning matters over to what they hoped would be a ball-control running game working in concert with their extraordinary defense.

While the running game was fairly well bottled up by Bath's defense, the Blue Devils' defenders more than held up their end.

Bath's second-half TD came on a 31-yard rush by Robinson (28 carries, 158 yards) with 2:21 to play in the third. Thereafter, the Rams didn't penetrate beyond Forks' 40-yard line.

"You cannot get behind 28-6 and expect to win a high school football game," Carroll said.

Especially not against Forks.   

Photo caption top: Tim Green celebrates with Matt Stephens, right, after Green scored the first touchdown. 

Photo caption middle: Matt Juriga is tackled by Bath's Mike Stromsness, back left, and Adam Coots.

Photo caption bottom: Assistant coach Dave Hogan celebrates a first-quarter touchdown by the Blue Devils.

The Binghamton Press' "5th Quarter" - Tuesday Nov 26, 2002

FIFTH QUARTER: CF takes offense to the air

Passing game surprised Bath

Press & Sun-Bulletin

Just maybe, the time has come to update the football scouting report on Chenango Forks.

The Blue Devils, who breezed along unbeaten by running the football through their first 11 games, wisely -- and with great efficiency -- sprinkled in the pass in Saturday's 28-14 win over Bath to advance to the Class B state title game at noon on Sunday against downstate power Harrison.

Here was a team that, before Saturday's contest in the Carrier Dome, had passed for two touchdowns in its most recent eight ballgames combined.

Against Bath, quarterback Matt Juriga threw for scores on three consecutive passes.

"We thought we could hurt them on outside streaks on early downs, we couldn't wait until passing situations," Forks coach Kelsey Green said. "I think maybe because of our option, they crowded the line of scrimmage a little bit.

"But we couldn't make a living doing that (passing), either. Once that worked a couple times, that was over."

Juriga's TD throws went for 44 yards to Tim Green, 21 yards to Nick Mirabito -- who ripped the ball from a defender in the end zone -- and 66 yards to tight end Zach Tarnowski.

"On early downs, they gave us a few looks that we thought we might be able to exploit, so we did," Green said. "It worked early, then I was sort of a coward in the second half and decided to play the clock. It worked, but it was a little hairy there for a while."

Mirabito said, "(Bath) had tons of guys in the box, and we knew we were quicker than them."

Juriga added, "The corner was playing so tight, so a little play action, they'd bite on that and the fly would be wide open. That's what happened on the deep ball a couple times, play-action fakes opened it up."

The lone TD passes thrown by Forks in its most recent eight games had been a 47-yarder from Juriga to Green on Nov. 2 against Oneonta, and a 31-yarder from Juriga to Mirabito on Oct. 25 against Bainbridge-Guilford/Afton. ...

Bath earned the respect of one and all on Forks' sideline for a second consecutive season. It was largely the same group of players that made up the team Forks slipped past by 7-0 in overtime in a 2001 state semifinal.

"We've played them twice, and I still don't know who's the best team," Green said. "We happened to win both. I feel awful for them. We know the feeling from a year ago, it's a bad feeling. But in a day or so, they'll realize that they're pretty darned special -- and we had to be that way to beat them today.

"I don't think there were any secrets between the two teams. It's almost like now we're in the same conference or something. They knew what we were going to do, except for a couple of those throws. And we knew what they were going to do. Then, it's just stopping them. They were tough to stop." ...

Forks senior Kelsey Jenks actually required a breather or two during Saturday's game. He sat out a handful of offensive plays, yielding fullback duties to Steve Tronovitch.

"Kelsey is fine, he's exhausted," Green said moments after the game. "The kid carries the ball, plays nose guard and goes 100 mph every play. I don't care what shape you're in, you're going to be tired, especially given the kids he's playing against. Those were physical kids."

Tarnowski added, "The was the most physical game of the year -- by far." ...

1 2 3 4   Tot
Chenango Forks 14 14 00 00 - 28
Bath 6 0 8 0 - 14
  • CF - Green 44 pass from Juriga (T. Batty kick)
  • B - Robinson 8 run (kick blocked)
  • CF - Mirabito 21 pass from Juriga (T. Batty kick)
  • CF - Tarnowski 66 pass from Juriga (T. Batty kick)
  • CF - Jenks 53 run (T. Batty kick)
  • B - Robinson 31 run (Cagle run)


Bath CF
First Downs 13 11
Rushes-Yards 46-234 39-196
Passing Yards 10 131
Comp-Att-Int 3-10-2 3-5-1
Total Offense 56-244 44-327
Punts-Ave yards 5-35 5-30.8
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 7-55 3-20


Bath rushing:  

  • Robinson 28-158, 2 TDs
  • Putnam 10-47
  • Cagle 6-23
  • Remchuck 2-6

Chenango Forks rushing:  

  • Jenks 19-103, 1 TD
  • Juriga 12-75
  • Spencer 4-15
  • Tronovitch 1-3
  • D. Batty 3-0

Bath passing

  • Cagle 3-9, 10 yards, 1 int.
  • Robinson 0-1, 1 int 

Chenango Forks passing: 

  • Juriga 3 -5, 131 yards, 3 TDs, 1 int.

Bath receiving: 

  • Putnam 1-4
  • Lang 1-4
  • Muchler 1-2

Chenango Forks receiving:  

  • Tarnowski 1-66, 1 TD
  • Green 1-44, 1 TD
  • Mirabito 1-21, 1 TD


Preview Articles

Forks, Bath feature familiar squads

Both teams will bring bruising running games

Press & Sun-Bulletin
November 22, 2002

There will be no secrets, few surprises and power football aplenty when Chenango Forks clashes with Bath at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Carrier Dome in Syracuse with a berth in the Class B state final at stake.

Each knows how the other operates, having worn out their respective VCRs viewing repeatedly the tape of last year's meeting between the two, outcome of which turned on a touchdown in overtime.

A year ago, the two collided -- also in the semifinal round at the Dome -- and played 48 minutes of scoreless football before Forks quarterback Chris Spencer rushed 20 yards for a score on an option on the opening play of overtime in Forks' 7-0 triumph.

Both return the majority of key contributors from that day.

Both lean hard on the running game.

Both feature defenses aligned in a base 5-2 and accustomed to shutting down most thrown their way.

Forks is 11-0 and tops the New York State Sports Writers Association's Class B rankings.

Bath is 10-0 and ranked third.

The winner returns to the Carrier Dome a week from Sunday for the title game against either Harrison or Lansingburgh.

The Blue Devils' toughest test of the season?

"Yes, without a question," Forks coach Kelsey Green said.

Said Zach Tarnowski, Forks' two-way senior end: "Bath is very good, huge, powerful. They play the same type of game we play."

A large, powerful, senior running back is the primary offensive threat for each squad.

For Forks, that player is 229-pound fullback Kelsey Jenks, whose 1,258 rushing yards this season have come on an average gain of just under 7 per carry. Over the Blue Devils' last five games, he has gained 817 yards and scored 13 touchdowns.

Bath's main man is 205-pound Mark Robinson, who has rushed for 1,761 yards and who has matched Jenks' 25 touchdowns on the ground.

Jenks' presence at fullback is a new look for Bath defenders, as he manned a tackle spot a year ago against the Rams.

"But we're not going to sneak up on them with Kelsey," Green said. "If they try to do anything out of the ordinary to stop (Jenks), it'll be our job to find out what they've done and attack that."

Adding some spice to Bath's offense will be an able-bodied player behind center. When the two met last year, Rams quarterback Keith Cagle was hampered by an ankle injury. Such is not the case for the rematch.

Bath's offense does not call for Cagle to throw frequently, rather, he'll go to the air as more of a change-of-pace to keep defenders on their toes and discourage them from ganging up on Robinson. Cagle completed seven of 11 passes for 98 yards in the quarterfinal round, a week after going 4-for-7 for 106.

"He adds a dimension, rolling out and throwing, keeping, bootlegging," Green said. "He'll put some pressure on our edges."

Bath's defense has registered five shutouts this season, and the Rams are coming off a 28-6 quarterfinal win over a previously unbeaten Olean squad that had averaged 33 points per game.

Forks' 21-point yield last week against Solvay -- the most anyone has scored on the Blue Devils this season -- was misleading. Solvay scored one defensive touchdown, and another after Forks turned over the football near midfield.

"I don't see a lot of points being scored," Green said. "I think it's going to be awfully tough to throw three or four touchdowns at each other."

Tarnowski, who left last week's game early in the fourth quarter after absorbing a blow to the head, will be ready Saturday. He is expecting a game no less a thriller than last year's.

"I think it's dead-even," he said. "That game last year was so closely played."

As for Forks' formula for success, Tarnowski added, "We have to stay away from turnovers and we have to be very sharp on our blocks because they bring a lot of guys to the front."

Stopping Jenks is key for Bath
BY BOB BENZ - The Leader (Corning)
November 22, 2002

Bath - Presumably, the Bath Haverling football team will finally meet its match Saturday.

The Rams haven't had much trouble making it back to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class B semifinals, where Bath (10-0) will once again meet Chenango Forks (11-0) at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.

Three fourth-quarter touchdowns helped the Rams pull away late in a 33-13 victory over Hornell in the sectional title game. Bath's smallest margin of victory was a 32-13 win over Wayland-Cohocton to help the team clinch the league title. The Rams struggled early in that game, but dominated in the second half.

Aside from those two games, it's been a cake walk for the Rams, who have outscored their opponents by an average score of 36-5.

This weekend, the Rams will meet an opponent that has been just as dominating this Season.

The Section IV champion Blue Devils were the last team to beat the Rams to date. Chenango Forks' 7-0 overtime win over Bath in last year's state semifinals was followed by a 14-7 setback to Peru in the 2001 Class B state title game.

Chenango Forks' 2002 campaign has been just as one-sided as Bath's. In fact, the Blue Devils have outscored their opponents - on average - by an almost identical 36-6 margin.

"It's going to be nice to have someone that's a real big challenge," Bath senior running back Dave Putnam said.

"Hornell was actually a challenge for three quarters of it and we kind of pulled away. It's going to be real nice to get a chance to meet somebody that's just as good and hopefully, it will be a real good game."

The Blue Devils were involved in their toughest game of the season last week and trailed Section III champion Solvay 21-14 in the third quarter. But Chenango Forks scored 21 unanswered points en route to a 35-21 win, making for the team's smallest margin of victory.

Just as Bath has relied on Section V, Class B Offensive Player of the Year Mark Robinson to supply much of the team's offense, Chenango Forks can counter with a workhorse of its own - 6-foot-1, 229-pound senior fullback Kelsey Jenks.

In many Section IV football circles, Jenks is considered the section's best offensive player. His numbers certainly support his supporters.

Jenks has rushed for 1,258 yards season and 25 touchdowns this season. In the last five games, he's gone for 817 yards and 13 touchdowns.

So there's little question as to what Bath's top objective will be Saturday.

"We're not going to shut out Forks, but we've got to contain Jenks," Bath head coach Wayne Carroll said. "You can't let him run for 150 yards against us. If we let him run for that much, we're going to lose."

"We've definitely got to shut down Jenks," Bath senior Cody Muchler said. "If we shut him down and shut down a couple of their other key guys, we should come out on top, no doubt about it."

Unfortunately for Bath, the Blue Devils have several other key guys, starting at the quarterback position.

Seniors Chris Spencer and Matt Juriga share the quarterbacking responsibilities for Chenango Forks.

Juriga is the bigger of the two at 6-3 and 202 pounds. But the 5-9, 168-pound Spencer is dangerous as well, something the Rams know all too painfully well. Spencer scored the game's only touchdown on a 20-yard run in overtime in the Blue Devils' state semifinal win over the Rams.

"We've got to contain their passing game," Carroll said. "We've got to play great pass defense because they will throw the ball. You cannot go to sleep on them. They run option, option and then all of a sudden, they throw a pass down the field, so we've got to be good there. We've got to put pressure on them."

This year, Bath and Chenango Forks - both known primarily for defense last season - each have made dramatic strides on offense. Carroll, for one, believes one touchdown won't be nearly enough this time around.

"I'm telling the offense that they've got to score about 40 points because Forks has been putting 40 points on the board every week," Carroll said. "Our offense has got to play its best game of the year."

Worth the weight
BY BOB BENZ - The Leader (Corning)
November 21, 2002

Barely five minutes had passed following Bath Haverling's sudden end to a spectacular 2001 season when Dave Putnam decided it was time to move on.

A total of three plays in overtime was all that was needed to decide Chenango Forks' 7-0 win over Bath, which sent the Blue Devils to the Class B state championship game. As Chenango Forks players celebrated, the stunned Rams - who fell tantalizingly short of a shot at the state title - were sent home to dwell on what could have been.

"I felt bad for it for about as long as it took me to walk off the field," said Putnam, who starts at both safety and running back for the Rams. "As soon as I got into the locker room, I just started talking to everybody else. I said, 'guys, this is it'. There's no sense in looking back on it. There's always next year, so we've got to work hard in the weight room and work hard on our individual game and everybody's got to get better at the skill positions."

Next year officially arrived Saturday with Bath's 28-6 drubbing of Olean at Ralph Wilson Stadium, which sets up a Class B state semifinal rematch at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. Bath (10-0) will once again meet Chenango Forks (11-0) with a berth in the Class B state title game at stake.

"We knew we'd be good again this year because we had a lot of our same talent coming back with (Keith) Cagle and (Mark) Robinson," said senior Billy Bridges, who caught a touchdown pass against Olean. "We were starting out with the same offense basically as last year, just at a higher caliber this year. Not too many other teams are usually going to get another shot and it's just real fun to have another chance at (Chenango Forks)."

Most of the players who were a part of last year's playoff loss mourned the defeat for less than 24 hours. Last year's state semifinal was played the day after Thanksgiving, giving "Black Friday" new meaning to the Rams.

The next day, however, Bath players were back in the weight room, preparing for 2002.

"We lost on a Friday. We started getting ready (for 2002) on Saturday, so it's been really, a whole year (of preparation)," Bath head coach Wayne Carroll said. "It happened so fast, it was just one play. It was just one play and it's over. First play in overtime and we're down 7-0. It was kind of disappointing. We played very well and held a good football team for four quarters of shutout football and then got in the fifth quarter and let one go.

It just goes to show, in high school football, you have to play every down."

While many players were doing their best to move on from the Chenango Forks' loss by making more frequent visits to the weight room in the offseason, Carroll made sure they never forgot the sting of the team's last setback to date.

A certain sign placed strategically in the weight room served as a constant reminder.

"I had it in the back of my head. I wanted (a rematch) real bad," Putnam said. "I thought about it all year and coach even put up a sign in the weight room, right next to the mirror and it said, 7-0 overtime. And that sign kind of haunted us all year round and we finally got to see the end of it and now we've got the chance to make it the other way around."

Much of the Rams' success this season stems from the weight room. Not necessarily "the sign", but the results it has inspired.

In going 10-0, Bath has outscored its opponents by a total of 360-54. That's an average score of 36-5. The Rams have shut out five teams this season and their smallest margin of victory was a 19-point win over Wayland-Cohocton.

Bath has won games this season, simply by overpowering the opposition. The Rams have 11 players on their roster who weigh at least 200 pounds.

"Getting into the weight room is not the funnest thing to do, but you don't have to like it, you just have to know that it's good for you," Bath senior center Dan Snyder said. "So get in there and work your butt off and just come ready to play when it's game time. If you don't lift hard, there's no reward for lifting."

Snyder said that during the summer he was lifting an hour a day for six days a week as he set out to make it into the weight room 100 days in a year. Again, Chenango Forks was often the primary motivational force.

"In the weight room, all summer long, all year long, we've had 7-0 OT posted on the wall, so that's been our goal all year long, to get back where we were last year and get a little revenge," Snyder said.

"It's been the biggest factor in everything," Putnam said of the Rams' attention to pumping iron. "We just go out and we physically beat up the other team."

Carroll, who could easily be mistaken for a professional body builder, has opened the weight room the morning after nearly every game this season. He keeps close tabs on his team's progression in the weight room and even knows who his five strongest players are, based on totals in squats, bench press, dead lift and clean and press.

"We had 48 guys on this football team and Mark Robinson finished number one in our strength department," Carroll said of his 5-foot-11, 205-pound senior running back. "It's kind of ironic that our running back would finish number one out of 48 guys, but he did."

Robinson, the Section V, Class B Offensive Player of the Year, is followed on the strength chart by Mike Stromsness, Pat Prescott, Amsey Remchuk and Cory Dungan.

"You take those five guys and strength wise and you look at the kind of season those five guys have had," Carroll said. "There is a high correlation between weight room performance and performance on the field and nobody's ever going to change our mind on that."

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
November 22, 2002


Matchup: Bath Rams (10-0) vs. Chenango Forks Blue Devils (11-0).

When: 11 a.m. Saturday.

Finals at Carrier Dome: Noon Saturday, Dec. 1 vs. Harrison-I (10-1) or Lansingburgh-II (11-0).

Standing out for Bath: RB/DB 25 Mark Robinson, LB/OL 7 Amsey Remchuck, QB 4 Keith Cagle, DB 21 Mike Stromsness, WR/DB 29 Dave Putnam.

Chenango Forksí top players: RB/DL 32 Kelsey Jenks, LB/TE 39 Matt Blackman, OL/DL 70 Jake Frisch, OL/DL 54 Juan Mendoza QB 11 Matt Juriga.

They meet again: Forks beat the Rams 7-0 in overtime to win this game last year, before losing in the state final to Peru. Odds are this meeting will be just as good as the last one, as not much has changed.

Both teams prefer to move the football on the ground until the opponent proves that it can stand up to the bruising running games. That hasnít happened often to the Rams, as Robinsonís rushing yardage total is up to 1,761 yards.

The Blue Devils have used an option game to grind out 308 rushing yards a game. Jenks, a 229-pound rock, has run for 1,258 yards and scored 25 TDs.

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