By Keith Harrington
It has been a dream season for the Cambridge-Salem football team. Coach Doug Luke and his coaching staff shuffled the squad's lineup, moving skilled position players to the line and lineman to skilled positions. The move paid great dividends as Cambridge-Salem rolled through their regular season opponents unbeaten and won sectional and regional crowns.
Saturday however, Luke's team ran into an absolute powerhouse, falling to Tioga 63-20 in the Class D state championship game at the JMA Wireless Dome in Syracuse.
“I don’t think today was ‘one of those days’ — they’re just a much better team than us,” Cambridge-Salem head coach Doug Luke said after the game. “We could play them any day and they still would’ve smoked us pretty good.”
Tioga, the defending state champions took advantage of Cambridge-Salem turnovers to build a commanding 35-0 lead at the half and cruised to another state title. The Tigers have not lost a game in 19 months.
Tioga opened up a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Ousmane Duncanson scored on a 12-yard touchdown run and Drew Macumber intercepted a Cambridge-Salem pass and raced 58-yards for a score.
Tioga increased their lead to 21-0 with 11:46 to go in the second quarter when Karson Sindoni picked up a fumble and returned it five yards for a touchdown.
“It was a gut punch,” Cambridge-Salem junior Brice Burr said of the two turnovers, “but we kept our heads in the game, we put it aside and kept playing right to the end.”
Midway through the quarter Caden Bellis hooked up with Valentino Rossi on a 51 yard scoring strike to make it 28-0 Tigers.
Macumber closed the half with a one yard touchdown run.
In the third Gianni Silvestri scored on a 13 yard run for the Tigers to extend their lead to 42-0. Duncanson scored on a 53 yard scamper and Silvestri returned an interception 48 yards for Tioga.
Quarterback Stephen Yakubec got Cambridge-Salem on the board with a one yard run with 4:29 to play in the stanza.
Macumber tacked on a 50-yard scoring run early in the fourth for Tioga.
Cambridge-Salem never quit as they got an eight yard touchdown run from Brice Burr and a five yard run from Isaiah Lohret.
Burr led Cambridge-Salem with 98 rushing yards. Yakubec completed 8 of 16 passes for 72 yards.
“I’m certainly proud of the guys. To come this far is really quite an accomplishment,” Luke said. “We didn’t finish what we hoped we’d finish, but it doesn’t take away from how fun the season was and the things that were accomplished.”
Cambridge-Salem closes out an outstanding season with a 13-1 mark.
Tioga finishes 14-0.