SYRACUSE — His body leaned forward and his head down, like a coach preparing to give his team a pep talk, 11-year-old Dominic Caraccio asked his friends crowded around him to "Give me an 'L'!

Caraccio then yelled for an "a", "k", "e", "r" and "s", and his compatriots shouted each letter back.

"What's that spell?" Caraccio shouted.

"Lakers!" his friends screamed.

The Carrier Dome in Syracuse was abuzz with fans cheering on the Skaneateles Lakers in the Class C state title game Friday night.

The Skaneateles side of the stadium was alive with spectators, from a woman who playfully hit the people in front of her with her twin foam fingers, to a man who rocked an infant in his arms to the beat of rapper Jay-Z's "Public Service Announcement," which was blaring from the sound system.

The eyes of Bill Marquardt, a lifelong Skaneateles resident and youth hockey coach, were laser-focused on the field, his gaze mostly only turning away to greet people he knew as they walked by. He said he believed the victories the Skaneateles football team accumulated this season spoke to the determination and hard work of the players, coach Joe Sindoni and Sindoni's staff this season.

He remarked on the large crowd on the Skaneateles side of the stadium. He believed the close-knit nature of Skaneateles could be attributed to how many people showed up.

"For a high school football game in upstate high school, I think that's pretty remarkable," Marquardt said.

For many people under the dome, the athletes on the field weren't just players but active members of their community. Madison Rossi, 10, said that player senior Scott Ochsner is her summer camp counselor. Her dad, Steve, described Ochsner as a "gentle giant."

Madison said late in the game that she felt the Lakers were going to take the win.

"I don't think (Holy Trinity) can get as many touchdowns in five minutes," Madison said as Steve laughed at the bluntness of her analysis.

Frank Walczak, a certified athletic trainer at Victory Sports Medicine in Skaneateles, said he wanted to cheer on the team since he has worked with a couple of the players this season. He said he believed they were doing well and that he wanted them to win.

"You don't want to play four months of football and come up short," Walczak said.

Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or kelly.rocheleau@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.

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