Playoffs Beckon in Upstate NY
Playoffs Beckon in Upstate NY
The race for a national playoff spot among Upstate New York teams is still, essentially, wide open, but it might be a little more wide open for a couple of teams at the top.
The Upstate format has six of the eight teams in the playoffs, so, conceivably, the team that is currently in 7th, Buffalo State, could become conference champs in a few weeks. Buff State is tied with LeMoyne at 2-4 with 10 standings points at present, and should they win against Fredonia, and should LeMoyne not do as well against RIT, those places could change. In fact, more to the point for Buffalo State and Fredonia, it's win and you're in, lose and you may be out. RIT and Geneseo are guaranteed a place in the first round of the playoffs. However, Geneseo, which has enjoyed a nice season so far, has an excellent shot at getting to the top two, and thus a bye in the first round.
That's because, the top two teams, SUNY Cortland and SUNY Oswego, will face off this weekend. If Geneseo wins (and they play winless Niagara), and Cortland (6-0) beats Oswego (5-1), then Geneseo will almost certainly move into 2nd. Oswego can keep that bye, though, with a tie or two bonus points in a loss. One bonus point is probably not going to do it, as Geneseo would have the points difference and head-to-head tiebreakers.
Certainly Oswego could be a banana skin for Cortland, as they were in the playoffs last year.
But the Cortland back row has been outstanding this fall. Head Coach Mike Dotzler calls them his three-headed monster, and so they are, with No. 8 Rob Rodriguez, flanker Kevin Olsen, and flanker Michael Cottrone (a freshman) accounting for 19 tries over the six games - essentially they are each scoring a try every game.
In the backline, flyhalf Elliott Butler and wing Nate Butler have been excellent defensively, while outside center Joey Wise scored is an imposing runner and scored two tries in a crucial win last weekend over Geneseo, 24-12.
Cortland is carrying a few injuries, said Dotzler, and being healthy for the playoffs is important. And given that Cortland has clinched a bye, they might rest a player or two.
But if everyone is 100%, said Dotzler, "I think we can make our name know at the national level. We are really excited to see how this last month of the season unfolds."
So here's where everyone sits in the Upstate NY playoff picture:
Cortland - clinched a bye. Would need two bonus points in a loss or a tie to clinch 1st.
Oswego - can take 1st with a win if they limit Cortland bonus points. Need a tie or two bonus points in a loss, or better, to clinch a first-round bye.
Geneseo has clinched a playoff spot, but could get a bye with a bonus-point win over Niagara, and an Oswego loss.
RIT has clinched a playoff spot win or lose.
Fredonia and Buffalo State play each other. The winner will cinch a playoff spot. The loser could be out if a playoff place depending on how LeMoyne does.
LeMoyne needs a win to be sure of a playoff spot. Failing that, they need to at least equal Buffalo State's performance on Saturday.