SCHUYLERVILLE — Cambridge football coach Doug Luke said he couldn’t remember much about his 100th win.
“But I’ll remember number 200. It was just kind of a special game,” Luke said.
He won’t be alone in remembering it. Playing what coaches and players agreed was their best game of the season, the Indians avenged an earlier loss to Greenwich and defended their Section II Class D football title in the process Saturday.
Using a dominating running game and stifling defense, Cambridge (9-1) jumped out to a 19-0 first-quarter lead en route to a surprisingly easy 40-7 win over the Witches at Schuylerville High School.
Cambridge will play Moriah in a state quarterfinal next weekend at a site and time to be determined.
Luke said it wasn’t the 200th win that made it special, but beating rival Greenwich (9-1). How the Indians did so was in stark contrast to the 43-38 Greenwich win five weeks ago. This time, Cambridge’s rushing game was on point, and its defense didn’t allow Greenwich quarterback Cole Burgess any room to run and broke up most of his passes.
The Indians rushed for 374 yards, led by Colton Dean’s 21 carries for 158 yards and four first-half touchdowns, as well as Tommy English’s 22 carries for 140 yards and another score. Cambridge had 267 of its rushing yards by halftime, when it led 33-7. The big surprise was Dean being prominently featured as a ball carrier -- something that hadn’t happened much during the regular season or playoffs.
“It was for this game, for right now. I felt it gave us more threats. It gave us a bigger running back,” Luke said of the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Dean.
After Cambridge opened the scoring with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Zack Rowland to Jacob Peters on its first drive, Dean took over. He rushed for scores of 6, 11, 6 and 10 yards in the first half.
Cambridge’s defense was just as impressive. It held Greenwich running back Reese Cristaldi to 50 yards at halftime and 113 for the game, but more importantly, limited Burgess — who torched Cambridge when they played earlier this season — to 35 yards on 14 carries and 4 of 13 passing with one touchdown, one interception and just 67 yards.
“We’ve never played anyone so fast and so athletic as Cole, so we know that if you’re going full head of steam at him, he’s just going to blow right by you,” said Dean, also a defensive lineman. “We’d work on breaking down, setting our feet, getting ready for his moves and gang tackling. Nobody takes a play off. If he’s running on the far side of the field, you better start hauling it. It’s all pursuit angle.”
English’s 6-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter was the only score of the second half.
Cambridge also took advantage of Greenwich turnovers, twice recovering fumbles and scoring on the ensuing possession, and once intercepting Burgess at the goal line as Greenwich drove just before halftime.
Luke called the final score a “surprise.”
“You dream of these things, but don’t really think they’re going to come true,” he said. “We played as good as we can play. Offensively, we did everything we wanted, we controlled the clock. And defensively we held them enough and gave them time to make mistakes, and they made mistakes and we took advantage of them.”
Class D Final
Cambridge (9-1) 19 14 7 0 — 40
Greenwich (9-1) 0 7 0 0 — 7
Cam — Peters 4 pass from Rowland (Mooney kick), 7:13
Cam — Dean 6 run (kick failed), 6:36
Cam — Dean 11 run (pass failed), 1:38
Cam — Dean 6 run (Mooney kick), 6:53
Gre — James 13 pass from Burgess (Albrecht kick), 4:20
Cam — Dean 10 run (Mooney kick), 2:35.
Cam — English 6 run (Mooney kick), 2:04.
RUSHING — Cambridge: Dean 21-158, 4TD, English 22-140, TD, Linendoll 5-41, Butz 5-37, Rowland 4-(-2). Greenwich: Cristaldi 23-113, Burgess 14-35, Mosher 2-8.
PASSING — Cambridge: Rowland 4-9-0, 46 yards, TD. Greenwich: Burgess 4-13-1, 67 yards, TD.
RECEIVING — Cambridge: Butz 2-29, Dean 1-13, Peters 1-4, TD. Greenwich: Walsh 1-30, Smith 2-24, James 1-13, TD.