Skaneateles Holy Trinity 19.JPG

Skaneateles' Areh Boni runs the ball against Holy Trinity in the state Class C title game.

Kevin Rivoli, The Citizen

SYRACUSE — Known for their explosive passing offense, the Lakers turned to their running attack in the most important game of the season.

Skaneateles featured a quarterback, Patrick Hackler, that broke the single-season mark for passing touchdowns with 53. While Hackler finished with three scores through the air in Skaneateles’ 28-25 win in the state Class C championship, it was the duo of Hackler and running back Areh Boni using their legs that Holy Trinity had no answer for.

The pair racked up 316 yards on 49 carries, with 176 of those yards coming from Boni.

“Areh has been great all season,” Lakers coach Joe Sindoni said. “He doesn’t always get a ton of carries because sometimes we’re throwing it around. When we need him he’s a horse.”

Part of the reason the Lakers settled on using their running game was dictated by how Holy Trinity played on defense. The Pride were determined to prevent Skaneateles from winning through the air.

“They came in with a game plan that I think was determined to slow Pat down throwing,” Sindoni said. “I’m fine with that. It was going to be a lower-scoring game but we were able to control the clock and the tempo of the game for the most part.”

Part of an effective running game is having backs with different skillsets. While Hackler still throws plenty, the combination of his speed and Boni’s power make it difficult for a defense to match up.

“We’re both running backs in a sense,” Hackler said. “Areh has the power and I have a little more finesse. Our explosiveness combines and teams don’t really know how to cover either player. Two players coming together and we just do our thing.”

Defenses are also handcuffed when the Lakers run the read-option plays — after the snap, Hackler can hand the ball off to Boni or hold it for a quarterback keeper. A defensive player must make a decision on who to try and tackle and it often becomes a guessing game.

“I think there is a nice compliment there. When we crisscross them it makes them hard to know who has got the ball,” Sindoni said. “Areh’s ability to block and not just run is really what sets him apart for our offense. These guys today tried to just be sound and sit, and give us the little stuff at a time. We would’ve been happy to just come out and run the ball all game because I felt like we were wearing them out.”

Sports writer Justin Ritzel can be reached at 282-2257 or at justin.ritzel@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenRitz.

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