HORSEHEADS, N.Y. (WETM) – It’s the biggest game of the year for Horseheads football.
Not only is it homecoming weekend for the Blue Raiders, but the opportunity to win the Section IV Class A regular season crown is up for grabs when unbeaten Union-Endicott (6-0) comes to town. The Tigers currently sit atop the division based on overall record, but Friday night’s game will give the winner the top seed in the Section IV playoffs and the division title.
Horseheads (5-1), now ranked 17th in the state in Class A, is just one ranking behind U-E who is ranked 16th in the same poll. Coming off of last week, Horseheads is primed to keep their strong season moving forward after a hard fought win in Binghamton, 28-12. The Tigers storm into Horseheads after cruising past the visiting Elmira Express last Friday, 41-14.
Both teams are unbeaten in the three team division and each holds a victory over the other program in Class A, Vestal.
The Tigers have plenty of firepower and are a very pass driven team on offense. U-E quarterback Max Sementelli possesses one of the strongest arms in all of Section IV. While wide receivers Nicholas Lang and Elijah Kendrick are dangerous threats on the outside who can always make a big play at any point of the game for U-E.
“We’ve been prepping all week for it and it’s homecoming too,” Horseheads senior running back Riley Loomis said. “I think we can come out with a win if we keep preparing the way that we are.”
Loomis, who leads the Blue Raiders in touchdowns and rushing yards, is prepared for an all-out battle Friday night. Something teammate Gannon Johnston says the Blue Raiders are more than ready for.
“We know U-E’s a pretty good team because they’ve gone undefeated this season (so far),” Johnston said. Johnston, a senior lineman who weighs nearly 300 pounds, pulled off perhaps the play of the year last Saturday in Binghamton scoring on an 85-yard interception return. Johnston also scored a touchdown on offense out of the backfield, and he believes the team is mentally prepared as well as physically.
“The emotion from us is the same as it’s always been, we’re gonna play our hardest and try to win.”
Horseheads head coach Kevin Hillman tells 18 Sports that this has been a dream season thus far. From the opening of the new stadium to Horseheads overall record, to keep it all going Hillman believes they need to stay razor sharped focused for a very talented U-E team.
“They’re a very athletic, explosive football team. We have our hands full, we’ve got to make sure we don’t make any mistakes,” said Hillman.
“I think if we play our game and do what we’re supposed to, do what we’re coached up this week, we’re gonna be competitive and we’re gonna be in this game.”
Kickoff is set for 7 pm Friday at Horseheads High School’s new stadium Friday, a venue that the Blue Raiders are undefeated in. The lone loss on the year was on the road at Maine-Endwell earlier this season for Horseheads.