For the first time in awhile, Skaneateles football is an underdog.
Despite a perfect record, a Section III, Class B title and the NYSPHSAA Class C title from last year in their back pocket, the Lakers are not the No. 1 ranked team in the state.
That position belongs to Section IV champion Chenango Forks, also perfect and also very formidable.
In pursuit of the Class B title, Skaneateles and Chenango Forks will butt heads in the state regional 3 p.m. Saturday at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
"We've got to have our A game just to be in it with those guys," Skaneateles coach Joe Sindoni said. "They're very, very impressive. We're going to do our best to make a good showing this weekend.
"We don’t usually just show up and out-athlete Chenango Forks. We’re going to really have to play smart and out-maneuver them, and even then it might not be enough. "
There is some familiarity between the two programs. The Lakers and Blue Devils faced off in the state quarterfinals back in 2012 when both programs were in Class C. Chenango Forks emerged in that game, 28-21, but fell the following week in the state semifinals.
Last year, while Skaneateles was rolling to the Class C state title, Chenango Forks was the runner-up in Class B. The Blue Devils' running back, Jeremiah Allen, was named Class B's co-player of the year by the NYSSWA.
Most recently, Chenango Forks shut out Maine-Endwell in the Section IV, Class B championship. Maine-Endwell hovered near the top of the state rankings for most of the season, peaking at No. 3 from Sept. 23 through Oct. 14.
Chenango Forks and Skaneateles had remained at No. 1 and No. 2 since Sept. 26. Now, after six years, the two teams meet again for a chance to advance to the state semifinal.
"It's pretty unbelievable," quarterback Patrick Hackler said. "We'll see how it goes. I'm really excited."
While Saturday's contest is certainly a heavyweight bout, the two programs go about their business in drastically different fashion. Chenango Forks is a grinding team that will try to run the ball down its opponent's throat, while Skaneateles leans on its passing game through a variety of spread formations.
That passing attack is where the Lakers may have an edge — spread offenses are atypical in Section IV, and Chenango Forks will have to adjust to certain looks it rarely sees on the field.
"That's the way they play down there and that's the way they train down there," Sindoni said. "Luckily for us, we have an offense that they don't see too often in Section IV."
Added Hackler, "We'll just do what we do and take that the defense gives us. We'll see how they come out and we'll be prepared on film. It should be a big week for us, but we're really excited to have a chance against these guys."