Auburn and Indian River have only been division opponents for two seasons, but the two programs are gaining a lot of familiarity with each other.
For the second straight year, the Maroons and Warriors will meet in the Section III, Class A semifinals. Auburn, which is 0-3 against Indian River since the start of 2018, hopes for a different outcome this time around.
When the teams butted heads in last year's section semifinal, Auburn couldn't contain Indian River's exotic rushing attack in a 45-14 loss. Even with an offseason to study and prepare, the Maroons fared no better when the teams met on Sept. 27, with Indian River rolling to a 53-20 win.
While some teams run the ball with power, the Warriors do so with deception, and their scheme is an impossible one for opposing teams to try and replicate in practice. Indian River often features a wing on each side of the offensive line and as many as three options, including the quarterback, in the backfield. There are four or five possibilities for who could carry the ball on each play.
Indian River rarely passes, but once or twice a game the Warriors will run a type of play-action that goes for long yardage.
“Every guy is in charge of one spot on the field, one alley way or one person," Auburn coach Dave Moskov said following the Maroons' last game against Indian River. "If you take your eyes off your guy and start peaking around, that’s when they’re gonna get you."
Moskov was pleased with how his team adjusted in that last meeting, but the Maroons were burned by two long touchdowns on Indian River's first three plays.
“I hope we get a chance to play them again," Moskov said. "I felt like it was a much better second half than first half once we understand where to go.”
He'll get his wish. The two teams will face off at 8 p.m. Friday at General Brown High School. The winner advances to the Class A section championship game Friday, Nov. 8.
Weedsport (6-0) vs. Altmar-Parish-Williamstown (3-3), Section III 8-man semifinals, 6 p.m. Friday at Chittenango High School
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In another rematch, the Warriors will try to knock off the same team they defeated in last year's title game.
Since dropping down to 8-man for the 2018 season, Weedsport has had its way with A-P-W the three times the teams have played. Last October in a meeting of two 4-0 teams, the Warriors rode a hot second half to a 46-8 win.
It was much closer when the Warriors and Rebels met for the section title, but Weedsport emerged again, this time with a 30-18 win.
In this year's season opener at Weedsport, the Warriors posted a lopsided 46-14 win over A-P-W, with big performances from Aidan Mabbett and Hunter Morgan.
Cato-Meridian (8-0) vs. Herkimer (5-3), Section III Class C semifinals, 11 a.m. Saturday at Cicero-North Syracuse High School
The Blue Devils' run to a perfect regular season began with a win against the Magicians on Sept. 6. With another win over Herkimer, top-seeded Cato-Meridian would play for the section title.
To reach the semifinals, Cato-Meridian had to survive No. 8 Mount Markham last week. Leading 14-7 with two minutes, the Blue Devils had a chance to put the game away, but a fumble at the Mustangs' 2 gave the ball back to Mount Markham.
Cato-Meridian's defense, which has been the best in the section all year, needed one more stop, and it delivered. The Mustangs advanced as far as midfield, but couldn't score the equalizer before time ran out.
With another win, the Blue Devils will play for their first section title since 1993, though that one came in Class D.