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State champs set to square off Saturday

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CONKLIN (WBNG) -- Section IV football fans have been waiting for this game since the end of the 2019 season.

Reigning state champions Chenango Forks and Susquehanna Valley will face each other in a week three match-up as new class C rivals.

"Two state championship teams and stuff, there's no doubt that practice was, the intensity was better the focus was better, you can feel the energy for sure," said Chenango Forks coach Dave Hogan.

"When the spring schedule came out, we were very happy it was on the schedule," said Susquehanna Valley coach Mike Ford. "I think both sets of kids have had tremendous careers and to go out and battle on the football field, I think everyone's pretty excited about it."

The shift in divisions was announced back in November of 2019, moving Forks down to Class C from Class B. Once both the Sabers and Blue Devils claimed their crowns, the build-up for a game between the two only heightened.

With no section or state titles on the line, this game has other implications.

Susquehanna Valley is currently riding a 28-game win streak, and is looking to extend what is already the longest active football streak in the state.

To make things even more interesting, the Sabers' last two losses came at the hands of the Blue Devils during the 2017 season when both teams played in Class B.

"For the coaching staff, we know it was a battle last time and it was real close both games," said Ford. "It's just a return to that kind of style of football. Section IV football is really doing great compared to the rest of the state, I think it's great for the area."

Chenango Forks has won 15 consecutive games, and across two games this season the Blue Devils haven't allowed a single point scored against them.

Ford said Forks is a well-balanced, talented team, and it will take honing in on the fundamentals to come out on top.

"They're disciplined on defense, it's always tough to get the ball moving on them," said Ford. "They've got an experienced line, Lucas Scott is a two-way threat...Eliminating mistakes is more important this spring because we have had less practices to hone in on the fundamentals."

Hogan also said limiting mistakes will be key for a Forks victory, and said Susquehanna Valley's biggest threat is the speed they carry.

"They swarm to the ball when they're on defense, when they're on offense," said Hogan. "They have a bunch of kids that can run around the end, they can hit the hole hard and take it the distance. Of course, their quarterback (Logan Haskell) can run and throw."

Both Ford and Hogan said they expect to see a great football game come Saturday.

As far as guessing whether this will be a high-scoring or defensive battle?

"I go back and forth, you just don't know, and that's why you play the game," said Hogan. "Expecting a game that's going to go down to the wire maybe, that's the way we're going to approach it."

Game time Saturday at Susquehanna Valley is set for 1:30 p.m.

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Nicole Menner

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