Three weeks into the high school football season and Division VI of the Section Four Football Conference seems to be taking shape _ at least at the top.
Walton (3-0, 2-0) has outscored its two divisional opponents, 102-12, including a 56-0 win over Oxford on Friday in which the Warriors held the Blackhawks to minus-47 yards of offense.
Barring injury, Walton should be heavy favorites to win the division.
After that, things get a little murky.
Deposit, Delhi, Bainbridge-Guilford and Harpursville are all off to 2-1 starts and figure to compete for the second and final playoff spot in the division.
"I look at Oxford and Harpursville and Delhi and Bainbridge-Guilford toward the tail-end of the season," Deposit coach Terry Raymond said after a 42-22 victory over B-G this past Friday. "And I think it's going to be a dogfight in the middle to get to sectionals. ... This was very, very important. We knew we had to come in here and do a job."
Deposit's victory over B-G came a week after getting thumped by Walton, 46-12.
The blueprint for Walton this season hasn't changed. Strong, attacking defense to go along with a ball-control, power running game have paced the Warriors thus far.
The Warriors, ranked third in the state in Class D, have sprinkled in a few extra passes this season, however.
Senior quarterback Pat O'Brien has completed 6 of 14 passes for 194 yards. He has two touchdowns and two interceptions.
"There's no doubt (Walton coach Jim Hoover) is going to play that Walton football," B-G coach Tim Mattingly said. "What makes them so much more explosive and so much more dangerous is that the O'Brien kid can throw the football."
Fullback Richard Fletcher has also been hard to stop, rushing for 289 yards on 47 carries and scoring seven touchdowns on the ground. He has six conversion runs and has scored defensively on a fumble return.
Defending Section Four Class D champion Delhi (2-1, 1-0) is coming off a 28-0 non-conference victory over Cooperstown last weekend and visits upstart Harpursville (2-1, 2-0), which has division victories over Oxford and Hancock.
The Lumberjacks (2-1, 1-1) took a step up in their victory over B-G (2-1, 0-1), which travels to Walton for a 1:30 p.m. game Saturday. "Obviously it's going to be a huge task for us," Mattingly said. "I think the key is to try and shut down the Fletcher kid and go from there."
Oxford (1-2, 0-2) and Hancock (0-3, 0-2) have started slowly, but could be a threat to knock off a contender as the season starts to shape up.
"There's a lot of young teams that will get better as the year goes on," Walton coach Jim Hoover said. "We've seen Delhi all three weeks and they have gotten better. We've seen Harpursville and they are getting better. Deposit came off the loss to us and beat B-G. It could go down to the last week or so."
SECTIONAL REMATCH: It might not have the same feel as last year, but Sidney (0-3, 0-2 Division V) plays host to Lansing in
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a rematch of last year's Section Four Class C championship game.
The Warriors beat the Bobcats, 32-29, last November to earn its second straight Section Four title, but the cast of characters Sidney had _ including quarterback Parker Umbra, and backs Mike Burpoe, Chase Mott and Jarred Mertz _ have graduated. The Warriors are young this season and could have their hands full with the Division V leaders. Lansing (3-0) has outscored opponents, 120-6, this season.
Game time is 7 p.m. Friday.
LOOKING TO KEEP ROLLING: It won't be easy, but Oneonta High (1-2, 0-0 Division III) will look to build off its first win by playing six-time defending Class B champion Chenango Forks at home at 7 p.m. Friday.
Marcel Sanchez rushed for 116 yards, Dan Sweet had 92 and Mark Johnson had 89 in a 27-14 win over Whitney Point last Friday night.
The Yellowjackets will likely need another strong effort on the ground to have a chance against Forks (3-0), which has outscored its opponents, 64-18, this season.
IF YOU CAN MAKE ONE GAME THIS WEEK: Delhi visits Harpursville at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in matchup of Division VI unbeatens. Bulldogs coach Dave Kelly is assisted by his son, Warren, who was the head coach at Harpursville before accepting a job to teach at Delhi following the 2004-05 school year.
ALSO THIS WEEK: On Friday (7 p.m. starts), Unatego (3-0, 2-0) travels to Watkins Glen (0-3, 0-2) for a Division V game. On Saturday, Unadilla Valley (1-2) visits Deposit in a 1:30 p.m. non-division game; and Cooperstown (0-3) plays host to Sauquoit Valley at 2 p.m. Saturday.
P.J. Harmer covers high school football for The Daily Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.