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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: CORNING READY FOR ANOTHER REGIONAL FINAL SHOWDOWN WITH CNS (14 PHOTOS) (2022-11-16)

By Brian Fees
Southern Tier Sports Report
As the Corning Hawks head to the regional final on Saturday they are set to see a very familiar opponent — Cicero North Syracuse at 6 p.m. Saturday at CNS.

The Hawks and CNS ran into each other in the 2019 final and again in last year’s regional final. Cicero won the two games by a combined six points, taking last year’s game 20-16 and the 2019 game 22-20.

“They have won five sectional titles in a row,” Corning coach Mike Johnston Jr. said. “Coach Kline has a great staff. He brought his guys over from Henninger, they were highly successful there. They have built a culture at CNS. We have a lot of respect for them. I have had the opportunity as a coach to play, from two different schools, against them so there is a lot of familiarity.

“We played them in 2019 and got beat on a field goal as time expired and we played them tight last year. It was another close game, we scored the first play of the game and had opportunities. We are very familiar with them. We know they have great team speed, and have great size. I joke, but it’s pretty close to being true, they are like a small college team. Our kids know we have to be on point. We have to execute. We have to pay attention to detail and our players have got to go out and make plays.”

The Regional final location was pre-determined before the season, and with CNS winning their fifth straight sectional title it winds up being a road trip for Corning.

“Essentially,” Johnston Jr. said. “But, it’s a great facility. There are eight teams left in New York State in Class AA and we are familiar with Newburgh, obviously, playing them Game 1 the beginning of the season and now CNS is a familiar foe. It’s someone we play here in and year out so that’s the thing, both programs have had a high level of success that we keep meeting each other in the regional.”

Corning’s players are ready to play for a regional crown.

“I’m really excited for the opportunity to go up there,” Logan Booker said.

“We are excited, we are glad we can continue not he legacy of the players before us,” Brady Hughes said.

Booker was a key member of last year’s team that came up just short against CNS and he’s ready for another shot in the regional final.

“I want to get the job done this time,” Booker said. “Last year was a tough loss, but we are ready.”

The Corning Hawks will be ready for whatever is thrown at them on Saturday. On Friday night in their sectional final they played in a game where it was pouring rain at times and thick fog at other times. On Tuesday night they took the field to practice on a snow covered field while the snow was thick enough to make it hard to see across the field.

“I wouldn’t mind if it snowed like this on Saturday, I’d be pretty okay with this,” Johnston Jr. said. “Friday night we played in 65 degree weather and pouring rain and we came out today and prepared and it’s snowing like crazy, getting a couple 2-3 inches out here. It’s been a tale of two cities as far as the weather goes.

“We have seen it all. t is winter. We made it quite a long way not having poor weather. Then we had the rain the other night, the first time we played in rain all year long, or really even in practice, because the weather was pretty good all fall. That’s not our concern. Our kids are focused and ready to accept the challenge and go to CNS on their home field, which is obviously a pre-chosen site. CNS knocked of CBA (Christian Brothers Academy) who had beaten them the first time around 42-41. CBA played without their QB, which I think might have made a little difference, but CNS is very good.”

Corning’s players feel like they are playing some of their best football as they head into regionals.

“We have a lot of momentum carrying us into regionals and yea re clicking as a team,” Booker said.

And, the Hawks are ready to play.

“Nothing else I want other than that (to try and win regionals). I’m ready,” Hughes said. “We have been getting better every, single day.”

Rain, snow, nothing will impact the players.

“We love it, we love the rain and the snow, we are ready to play in it,” Booker said. “We are not going to be phased by anything, we just have to be locked in.”

“Temperature does not affect the Corning Hawks,” Hughes said. “No matter the weather, temperature we are going to be ready to play.”

For the Haws, everything starts up front with their line.

“They are getting the job up front and moving the line of scrimmage,” Booker said.

For Hughes, it’s easier to throw the ball when he has so much time because of the line.

“I have all day to throw the ball so they make me feel comfortable,” Hughes said. “I can really get a big ball (throw) because of them.”

The passing game clicked for a big touchdown in the sectional final, and some big plays this year, and that opens things up for the backs.

“It makes everyone back up and them respecting the pass opens up the run,” Booker said. “When the don’t expect him (to throw) the corner bites on the run and we are just wide open.”

And, that run game makes things easier for Hughes and the passing game.

“Teams always start respecting the run and they get lulled down and they just start playing tight and then we pass to score,” Hughes said.

When Hughes throws he feels like he has a lot of guys who can really catch.

“I have the best receivers in Section 4, I believe,” Hughes said. “T/hey make my job easy.”

The Hawks are now ready to face a good CNS team.

“Lot of nerves, lot of excitement, a little of everything,” Hughes said.

The Hawks players know they face a tough test in the final, but they will be ready.

“They are obviously a great team,” Booker said. “But, our coaches will prepare us and put together a great game plan.”
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IN TOP PHOTO: Corning's Brady Hughes and Logan Booker. . . PHOTOS BY BRIAN FEES


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