The plan for the Waverly football team was to open the 2013 season hosting Valley rival Athens.

However, things changed after New York pushed back the start of their high school football season by a week.

What looked like it could be a tough situation for the Wolverines as they were left scrambling for a game, has turned into a great opportunity as they will open the season in the Carrier Dome as part of a Kickoff Classic.

Waverly will open the year at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 8 when they face Cortland. It's one of nine games over three days to open the season at the Carrier Dome, including games featuring other District 4 teams Maine-Endwell and Union-Endicott.

"It was kind of an opportunity that came when we lost the Athens game," Waverly coach Jason Miller said. "They pushed our season back a week. We don't even start the same date as Pennsylvania now. We were slated to play Athens at home and that was going to be a big game for us. I am one of the scheduling coordinators for our section. We contacted Section 3 and said we were out a game and the Section 4 schedule was done. We contacted Section 3 and the Section 3 rep basically created a game for us. To this day I am not sure Athens has a week one opponent yet, so we feel bad in that regard. It's a challenge to mesh up two states and their schedules and the stake kind of pulled the trigger on this late in the year and we were fortunate to be invited to play in the carrier Classic and we will have our hands full. It's a good way to prepare for the rest of the season."

Miller knows that the kids are excited for this opportunity.

"It gives us a real purpose in the offseason," Miller said. "We lost a lot of kids to graduation and they know playing in the Carrier Dome is a real special opportunity. It's against a bigger school like Cortland. It's on a big stage. I think it is one of the game that can be televised, it's not confirmed yet, but the possibility remains. The kids are awful excited about it. Every day we use it as a motivating factor."

Miller knows that it is special to get this chance and to be one of the 18 teams playing that weekend at the Dome.

"If you look across the nine games, there are some really good games in there, including down the road Maine-Endwell who has won two state championships in a row," Miller said. "Across the board, it's a pretty good sample of all the different classifications, and certainly some of the better programs in the state will be playing that weekend. It's just a special opportunity and I think our kids will embrace the challenge. Whether in the weight room, or studying film on Cortland, already they are excited. We were concerned as a staff, you look at what we lost with 26 seniors and this is just perfect timing, it gives them something to work toward."

With the state finals being in the Carrier Dome and the Wolverines having gotten close in recent years, this is something that Miller hopes will motivate the kids to work to get back to the Dome.

"We are going to have a large senior class again with 16 or 17 seniors, but also a lot of underclassmen playing," Miller said. "We discussed this is where you want to be at the end of the year, not the beginning of the year. Hopefully if we ever are fortunate to get to that situation, we can say we have been there, done this. From a coaching perspective it's an opportunity to use to take into the preseason. It's preparation for a game later in the year, even if it's two years down the road, or three years down the road, we can say we have done it before."

There are also a lot of distractions and differences for a game at the Carrier Dome, which can help prepare Waverly's players for the atmosphere they would face in the postseason, even sectional games.

"The biggest thing is a 20 minute preparation, as soon as that game ends before us, you have 20 minutes and that's a rigid schedule, they do not bend," Miller said. "It's a playoff atmosphere, we played there in 99 and it's just very little time. In the playoffs and intersectional play you have only so much time to get ready and it's game time. It's just another experience we can reflect back on.

"We had a meeting there last weekend in preparation for the game and some questions were raised about the video boards, and will they be up and they will be so I went back and immediately told the kids that we might need to work on it if we are ever fortunate to break one not to look up at the board. The other side of it is it's a little strange being in a facility that big. There might be three or four thousand people there and it seems empty and that can take some life out of you. It's a very strange atmosphere. On one end it's a great atmosphere because it's a neat facility and on the other side you can have a very normal high school crowd there and it seems empty. All these little experiences can be used as a positive for sure and hopefully it motivates us to get back there."