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Confident IHC rolls past Lowville

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After playing what coach Paul Alteri called their “best all around game of the season Friday night,’’ the Immaculate Heart Central Cavaliers head into the Section 3 Class C football playoffs with a ton of confidence, and with a warning to the other teams — watch out for us!

IHC all but wrapped up the second seed out of Class C North by blasting visiting Lowville 40-6, and now awaits its seeding when the Class C brackets are announced on Sunday.

And like last year, when No. 8 seed IHC gave top-seeded Skaneateles a huge scare before falling in the final seconds, the Cavaliers figure to be a dangerous opponent no matter what seed they earn.

IHC will be put into Class C-1 in the playoffs.

“We feel like we’re playing our best right now, and that we can compete with any team in the section,’’ said IHC junior running back Spencer Sharlow, who scored two touchdowns and rushed for 64 yards on 16 carries. “Our young line has really stepped it up, and our seniors have given us great leadership.’’

IHC (4-3 overall, 3-2 division) scored on its first possession and dominated both lines of scrimmage, outgaining the Red Raiders (4-3, 3-2) by 357-79.

If Altmar-Parish-Williamstown loses to unbeaten General Brown today, IHC, Lowville and APW will wind up with identical 3-2 divisional records. IHC lost to APW, but Lowville beat the Rebels. However, IHC has the tiebreaker over both Lowville and APW to earn the second seed. Lowville is the third seed out of C North because it beat APW head-to-head.

“Last year we knew ahead of time who we were going to play (in the sectionals), and we jumped at the chance to play Skaneateles,’’ said IHC coach Paul Alteri. “This time, we have no idea who we play. But I think we’re ready to compete hard again, and to make a run.’’

After being shut out by General Brown three weeks ago, IHC has now scored 92 points in the last two games. Alteri said one reason for the point explosion is “Our offense has calmed down, we’re playing a lot smoother and with more of a purpose.’’

Sharlow, who scored on runs of 9 and 5 yards in the first half, agreed. “I think we were trying to do too much. The last couple games, we’ve concentrated on what we do best, and have executed a lot better.’’

Alteri has three solid backs in Sharlow, and fellow juniors Austin Frechette (8-51, 33-yard TD run) and Mike Marra (8-44, 8-yard TD run). And senior quarterback Matt Moran is also playing his best football of the season. He hit 8 of 12 passes Friday for 104 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown pass to Miles Sexton.

“Matt has become a true leader for us,’’ Alteri said. “You can just see the confidence in his eyes and the way he’s leading our offense.’’

Lowville came into the game undermanned, with starting quarterback Isaac Widrick and versatile receiver Cameron Malik both out with concussion symptoms. Head coach Josh Coffman was forced to go with junior running back Billy Larkins, his leading rusher, at quarterback, a position he hadn’t played since Pop Warner.

“Obviously, our offense couldn’t do quite as much with Isaac out,’’ said Coffman, whose team will make the playoffs in Class C-2. “But we had a very poor week of practice, and IHC showed us how to get ready for a big game.’’

A Larkins 88-yard kickoff return after Frechette’s early score was all the Red Raiders could muster offensively.

And like IHC’s offense, the Cavaliers’ defense is playing at a high level at just the right time.

“We’re starting to play aggressively, and hitting people,’’ said senior linebacker Jaden Crill. “And we’ve cut down on our mistakes the last two games.’’

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