Cornwall makes history by winning Class A state title

By Justin Rodriguez
Section 9 Football Insider

Cornwall completed a perfect season on Friday, defeating Buffalo’s West Seneca East 21-14 to win the Class A state championship at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.

Cornwall (12-0) is the first Section 9 team to win a Class A state title. Only two other Section 9 schools have won state championships, Rondout Valley (2000, Class B) and Monroe-Woodbury (2005, Class AA). Entering Friday, Section 9 was 2-11 all-time in state championship games.

Linebacker Steven Gazzillo, seldomly used at fullback, scored the game-winner on a 1-yard run with 53 seconds remaining. Gazzillo is a three-year starter for the eight-time defending Section 9 Class A champs. The Green Dragons last played in the Class A championship in 2006, losing to Corning East 27-14.

“This is the best feeling in my entire life,”Gazzillo said. “It’s amazing and I don’t even know if I can describe it. It’s a credit to this team and our coaches. We overcame a lot of adversity and always found a way to get it done this year.”

Junior running back Amin Woods rushed for 207 yards on 34 carries for Cornwall against West Seneca East (9-3) and freshman quarterback Aidan Semo completed 10-of-20 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns.

Cornwall punched its ticket to Syracuse with a 21-20 win over Burnt Hills in the Class A state semifinals last week at Faller Field in Middletown. The Green Dragons had lost to Burnt Hills three times in the Class A semifinals over the last decade. With the win, Cornwall interim coach Eric Holzapple moves to 7-0 this year.

A longtime Cornwall assistant, Holzapple took over for Mike Connolly, who aprubtly resigned as coach mid-season. The Green Dragons outscored opponents 394-152 this year.

”This is the best feeling of my life,” Semo said. “This was supposed to be the year that big, bad Cornwall went down, but we got the job done. We pulled together today like we have all year and found a way to get it done. I love this team because we are so close and always respond when adversity strikes.”