Class C, semifinals: Pembroke vs. Oakfield-Alabama
Pembroke (7-1) vs. Oakfield-Alabama (8-0)
4 p.m. Saturday, at Aquinas
Here we go again.
Oakfield-Alabama and Pembroke is the best Genesee Region League rivalry and the buildup for the regular season game was huge, the game was even better than could be imagined and now the two powerhouse squads are matching up in the Section 5 Class C semifinals.
Tim Smith scored a late touchdown and Brad Riner ran in a two-point conversion as the Hornets won the regular season contest 25-24 in Week 6, giving fans the best show in the rivalry game's history.
O-A went on to beat Holley in the final week of the regular season and won the league title outright, going undefeated for the first time since 1986. Pembroke beat Attica in the final week of the season and finished one point away from the title and a perfect season.
The Hornets thumped Dansville 63-34 in the opening round of the playoffs and the Dragons had a big second half to beat Bishop Kearney 32-12. Now the scene shifts to Rochester, as the game will be played on the turf at Aquinas High School.
Smith and Riner were the stars in the first game and will be the focal point of the O-A offense yet again as the two GR all-stars are having monster seasons.
Smith has 112 rushing attempts for 971 yards and 15 touchdowns while Riner has tallied 817 yards and 12 scores on 108 rushes. Joe Natalizia, Jason Stanley and Josh Athoe will also see the ball.
The Hornets didn't have to throw the ball much in the regular season game, but if Pembroke is successful in stuffing the run, look for A.J. Kehlenbeck to put the ball in the air. The quarterback has a great arm but has had not had to use it much this year because of O-A's run-first approach.
Kehlenbeck has thrown to seven different receivers while completing 18-of-41 attempts for 271 yards and six touchdowns.
Some people might give Pembroke's offense the advantage because of the playing surface with speedster Andrew Wright and cutting-runner Mike Dibble.
Wright can do it all and has excelled on special teams, running the ball and catching it. He is looking forward to running on turf and adding to his 896 rushing yards with 10 touchdowns and 340-plus receiving yards with three scores.
Dibble is over 800 yards rushing with 10 touchdowns.
Quarterback David Kleckler and tight end Ken Babcock are a great passing duo, with Kleckler completing 33-of-62 attempts for 733 yards and 11 scores.
The Dragons are dealing with some injury issues, most notably starting center Josh Hanel, who is out for the game. O-A has some minor injury issues, but comes in mostly healthy.
Oakfield-Alabama is ranked eighth in the state while Pembroke comes in at No. 17.