SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — In describing the antithetical fate of Sullivan County rivals Liberty and Sullivan West with regard to their respective Section 9 Class C football semifinal playoff games, what better words can be found than those of Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” This is the opening cadence to “A Tale of Two Cities.” By dint of Liberty’s stupendous 35-18 win over Millbrook at Dietz Stadium, the 7-2 Indians advance to the title game on November 3 in Middletown to play defending champion James I. O’Neill.
On a far more somber note, Sullivan West lost to O’Neill 39-14. The Bulldogs were sullied by the Raiders’ aerial bombardment with their season abruptly ended at 6-3. Much had been written about a potential title encounter between Liberty and Sullivan West, two teams with plenty of unfinished business at least from Liberty’s vantage point, not to mention scores to settle from last year and this. But the neighboring bragging rights will now have to wait until basketball season’s “Revelry and Rivalry.”
As for football, though, Rudyard Kipling said it best: “Oh, east is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet.” Sullivan West failed in its bid to reach the title game for the first time since capturing its third straight crown in 2006 and it was clear from the outset that the Bulldogs’ prime defensive agenda of stopping Section 9 rushing leader Jerry Nasi in his tracks was a bit one-sided after O’Neill junior QB Keegan West unleashed a 75-yard TD strike to junior wideout Malik Chambers on the Raiders’ first possession. By day’s end, the game’s Offensive MVP would uncork five lethal missiles, four of which zeroed in on a wide-open Chambers, as O’Neill built a 39-0 lead over Sullivan West. The normally prolific Bulldogs failed to muster any consistent offense prior to garnering two TDs in the game’s final five minutes. Those shut-out-saving tallies came on a lengthy run by Richard Shevak and a two-yard reception from Cody Franskevicz. Sawyer Erlwein ran it in for the two-point conversion, but the final scoring flurry did little to alleviate the heartache of having the season ended so abruptly. It was the swan song for seniors Erlwein, Brad Hemmer, Joe Schroeder, Scott Erdman, Scott Herberty and Tyler Bernitt. The details of Sullivan West’s denouement can be found on www.sportsinsightsny.com , while the accompanying photo album is housed at www.sportsinsights.smugmug.com  for all to see.
Since losing 21-0 to O’Neill on September 14, a game in which the Indians trailed by a single score heading into the fourth quarter, Liberty has torn off six straight wins from its 1-2 start, including league thrashings of Burke, Dover and Onteora. Liberty led 21-18 at the half as Millbrook had closed the gap with an 88-yard aerial strike from QB Jonathan Crane to Joe Daley just before the break. But a kickoff recovery by Offensive MVP Atwoun Ackerley would give the Indians a chance to set the tone as Quinn Jackson hit Ryan Henry on a 22-yard strike over the middle for the 28-18 lead. Millbrook never entered the red zone again. Henry rushed for 99 yards on 13 carries and caught two TD passes. He was five for five on PATS. Liberty allowed Nasi to rush for 257 yards and three TDs in their early season encounter, but Liberty will no doubt go to school on the videotaped air show deployed in the win over SW.
At the OCIAA Cross-Country Championships at Bear Mountain on October 26, Eldred’s Alex Campanella (15:59.56), Sullivan County’s top finisher, came in eighth. Sullivan West’s Reed Scott (16:23.24) was 15th. Tri-Valley’s Autumn Bender (18:58.42) was 12th as the top lady from Sullivan County. Tri-Valley’s girls were sixth overall out of the 18 contending schools. The Section 9 Championships will be staged at Bear Mountain on November 2.
In the Section 9 boys soccer playoffs, Sullivan West lost its opening round game to Onteora 5-0, while Liberty fell to Spackenkill 2-1. Fallsburg downed Tuxedo 1-0 in OT. In girls soccer playoff games, Sullivan West fell to O’Neill 6-1, while the Monticello Lady Panthers lost to Red Hook 8-0. Eldred defeated Webutuck 1-0.