FOOTBALL PREVIEW: MAINE-ENDWELL FACES SECTION III CHAMP INDIAN RIVER IN RETURN TO STATE PLAYOFFS
By ANTHONY GOSS
Broome County Sports Report
ENDWELL — Maine-Endwell clinched the Section IV title a week ago and has cleared all its opponents through its first 10 games. This week, a fresh challenge outside its section awaits the two-time defending Class B state champion.
Indian River, the winner of Section III, makes the three-hour bus ride to square off with the Spartans at Dick Hoover Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
ME head coach Matt Gallagher embraces the excitement of the state playoffs but ensures his team seeks more with these upcoming challenges.
"When it's the state playoffs there's always more excitement, you're going through a neutral site," he said. "They should be happy and proud of where they are now but never satisfied."
The Warriors enter the contest with a 9-2 mark but have not lost on the field this season. The two losses came as a result of using ineligible players for their second and third games of the season.
Indian River expects to play a somewhat similar style to the Spartans with a heavy emphasis on a physical ground game.
"They want to run it. I don't think they are going to throw it all that often unless they get into a situation where they need to," Gallagher said. "They've been successful so we have to make sure we continue to try to be in the best position we can."
The Warriors tout two 1,000-yard rushers this season in Derek Jones and Kane Lynch. Jones leads the team with 1,649 yards and 25 touchdowns.
"They run a similar offense to Corning. We're going to make adjustments from what we did," Gallagher said. "Hopefully that's going to negate some of the things Corning was able to do."
Matching the Warriors physically will prove key for the Spartans in limiting the Indian River offense.
"Not getting moved and tackling. If we do that we're going to have some success defensively," Gallagher said. "We're making sure we will be prepared for anything we see."
Given the similarity in styles, ME believes its opponent has a similar task in figuring out ways to deal with the Spartans' offense.
"When you run a system like theirs or a system like ours that not a ton of people run, it does make it more difficult if it's the first time you've seen it," Gallagher said. "Even though you might try to simulate it in practice it's hard to run it like we run it."
Gallagher and his team hope to translate some of its attributes displayed throughout the season into this contest.
"Our size and our speed have helped us all year and the tenacity these guys play with," he said. "I think that's going to carry over to Saturday as well."
The Spartans will also lean on experience against the Warriors.
"A lot of our guys definitely have the experience of playing in the state playoffs," Gallagher said. "Any time you can have that experience passed down and have the younger guys be around I think helps so much."
But with the help of experience, Gallagher believes everyone plays a role in doing an individual job.
"[We are] never looking for one guy to do more than what his job is," he said. "It could be one guy one week and another guy the next week. That's the beauty of our team."
In its return to state playoffs, ME looks to continue the success it has found in all three phases throughout the season.
"Hopefully we have a couple of guys who get up the field quick and make some noise, our defense holds them," Gallagher said. "If the three phases are going our way, maybe Saturday will be something we can be happy about."
PHOTO BY ANTHONY GOSS
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