The Oneonta City Stallions are undefeated for the first time in program history.
First-year Stallions quarterback Rocco Dionisio threw for one touchdown and rushed for another Saturday at Hartwick College's Wright Stadium as Oneonta City opened its Northeastern Football Alliance season with a 24-13 victory over the Cortland Bulldogs.
"We are certainly at a higher level of quality this year in terms of number of players who have a wealth of experience in football," said Stallions co-owner Tom Terry, whose fourth-year program followed an 0-10 inaugural season in the Regional American Football League with a 4-5 record in the Empire Football League in 2010 and a 2-8 finish in the NFA last year. "Fifty percent of our roster has changed, and of that 50 percent, we have been able to recruit very well from Binghamton, Cortland and Utica. They're joining us because they like what we're doing. ... I really do think we'll be very competitive throughout the season."
Binghamton resident Dionisio opened the scoring with a 17-yard rushing touchdown and threw a 25-yard TD pass to Kyle Besemer later in the first quarter, which ended with Oneonta City ahead, 14-7.
Jeremy Polhamus, also of Binghamton, contributed a 9-yard TD run in the second quarter, and Sidney graduate Jimmy Kazalski kicked a 42-yard field goal in the third period to cap the Stallions' scoring. Kazalski also went 3-for-3 in extra-point attempts.
Terry said Cortland scored its final points on a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining.
Oneonta City had 238 rushing yards, including 88 from Dionisio, 49 from Polhamus and 48 from Besemer. Polhamus also made eight solo tackles as a linebacker for the Stallions, who got interceptions from free safety Justin Burkhardt and cornerbacks Andre Pratt and Anthony Bucceri.
Terry also pointed out the contributions of Oneonta High graduate Noble Champen, a 2011 NFA All-Star.
"We didn't give him the ball much," Terry said of Champen, who played QB last season, "but he drew coverage all night to open up the other guys."
Terry also said the Stallions' season opener drew 500 fans, with roughly 450 paying the $5 cost per ticket.
"For the first game of the season, it was a pretty solid performance all the way around," Terry said. "We have cheerleaders this year, and it's a really good level of entertainment we're giving our fans."
Oneonta City will go for its first road win in program history at 7 p.m. this Saturday, when it visits the Glove Cities Colonials at Knox Middle School. Glove Cities started its season Saturday with a 19-0 rout of the Utica Yard Dawgs.
The Stallions will play at the defending NFA champion Troy Fighting Irish on June 16 before returning to Wright Stadium at 6:30 p.m. June 23 for a home game against the Watertown Revolution.
The 10-game NFA regular season will be followed by playoffs, which will feature the top three finishers from each of the league's two six-team divisions.
Terry said Wright Stadium also will host the 2012 NFA All-Star game, which is slated for October.
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