Tioga one win from state final
The Tioga Tigers are right back where they were a year ago, playing in the state semifinals, one win away from a spot in the state final.
This time their opponent is Randolph today at 5 p.m. at Sahlen's Stadium in Rochester, N.Y.
"The kids are focused, they don't seem too nervous," Tioga coach Nick Aiello said. "They are focused on the task at hand. They have done a good job watching film and preparing for Randolph."
Getting to this point last year and losing is something that Aiello thinks will help this year's team.
"I think the experience definitely helps," he said. "It made the guys more hungry to get back here. They definitely want a shot at moving on and playing next year. It also helped us relax. We treat every week the same in terms of practices and preparation. When the kids continue to practice hard, good things happen."
After last year a lot of the Tioga players feel like they have some unfinished business this year.
"I get that feeling a lot," Aiello said.
Aiello knows Randolph will be a tough test.
"They play their roles really well, we are going to have to play very disciplined on defense,' he said. "They are very good at what they do in terms of execution and they run the option and that always gives defenses fits if they aren't ready for it. We have to be real focused, it will be good to see how we do against them."
One thing that helps Tioga is they are healthy this time of year.
"We are actually really healthy," Aiello said. "We are just down one defensive back and he's more of a game time decision on whether or not he plays.
"Especially at our level at the (Class) D level, injuries are huge. As a state we look at how we practice and get the kids as fresh as possible. We are hard on their legs Monday and Tuesday and we pull back Wednesday and Thursday to be fresh."
One of the challenges for this game is going to be the long travel to the game, so Aiello is doing some things to try and combat that.
"We are going to get them there about three and stop halfway so they can walk around a little bit, get some fresh air," Aiello said. "That usually picks us up, the kids get excited after that it gets rid of the laziness."
Getting back to this point two years in a row is something that Aiello knows the players can be proud of.
"I think it just speaks a lot about the kids and the work they put in to get back here," Aiello said. "It's hard, the kids knew that and it was a year long process to get back to this point. It was a tremendous amount of work and I hope it pays off for them."
TIOGA VS. RANDOLPH
Today, 5 p.m.
Sahlen's Stadium, Rochester, N.Y.
Rushing: Tyler Spires 184-1788-26; Jesse Manuel 154-1466-20; Brad Jump 94-660-10
Passing: Ryan Vergason 5-13-73-1
NOTES: Ran for 426 yards on 51 carries in the state regional win over Sandy Creek. . . Second straight trip to the state semifinals. . . Ranked first in the NYS Sportswriters rankings.
NOTES: Jordan Dowiasz ran for 252 yards on 27 carries in the regional game win over Avon, Dowiasz has 27 touchdowns this year. . . Dowiasz has at least two touchdowns in each postseason game. . . Coach Pat Slater has 212 career victories. . . Randolph won the 2005 and 2009 state titles.