MIDDLETOWN — From the roar of cheering voices in the postgame locker room Friday evening, it’s clear that the thrill of a second straight trip to the Carrier Dome is not lost on the Cambridge Indians.
Scoring eight touchdowns in their first nine possessions, the No. 1-ranked Indians (11-1) stormed past Millbrook 56-8 in a Class D semifinal of the State Football Tournament.
That sets up a rematch of last year’s state championship game with Maple Grove (11-1), won by Cambridge in double overtime. Maple Grove defeated Tioga 32-27 in the other semifinal.
“Two years in a row is just awesome,” senior running back Jonas Butz said. “My teammates have worked so hard for this moment, it’s a great feeling. … That feeling after last year’s win motivated us the whole year, just to get back to the Dome is amazing.”
“It feels awesome to get back here with a great bunch of guys,” said senior linebacker Brenden Holcomb, who received the Indians’ defensive player of the game award. “We’ve all played together since we were little and we always dreamed of getting at least one — and the chance to get another is just awesome. We just play our hearts out for each other.”
Clicking on every cylinder on both sides of the ball, Cambridge needed just 26 offensive plays to score its eight touchdowns, all before halftime. Tommy English, who was the Indians’ offensive player of the game, and Colton Dean each scored twice.
The Indians spent the entire game in the Millbrook end of the field. They ran only one play from their own territory — their own 49-yard line — in the game. Cambridge had a 21-0 lead before the game was seven minutes old and finished with 390 total yards.
“That’s what we’ve been doing the whole season — we jumped on teams real quick, it’s something we expect to do at this point,” Cambridge head coach Doug Luke said. “You prepare, you work hard and then you hope things will happen. And tonight, it was exactly what we hoped would happen.”
“Our line did a great job today, the holes were wide open for our running backs, the passing game was working, everything was just clicking for us today,” said Butz, who also scored a touchdown.
Defensively, the Indians collected five turnovers, turning four into scores, and held Millbrook’s (6-6) double-wing offense to 46 total yards in the first half.
“We didn’t think we would dominate the way we did,” Holcomb said. “We saw them on film and they looked good, they run the ball hard, we knew we would have to stay disciplined and play a tough game because they were tough, too.”
“Our D-line got a really good push up front,” senior linebacker Max Hoffer said. “They had a good offensive line but we were able to drive them back like we wanted to and … give us that short field and allow us to punch in some points.”
Dean opened the scoring on a 4-yard run 1:34 into the game, and the Indians never stopped. Three plays later, Cambridge got the ball back on a pass that was tipped at the line and picked off by Holcomb, who returned the ball to the Millbrook 26.
“I saw the ball get tipped up in the air and I saw some open space, so I tried to get to it and get going,” said Holcomb, who also had two fumble recoveries. “That was the best way we could have started. It opened right up at the beginning — we scored and we were hoping to get a quick stop and score again.”
Running their uptempo, no-huddle offense, the Indians scored their next seven touchdowns on drives of four or fewer plays, none longer than 51 yards.
Holcomb’s first fumble recovery set up Zack Rowland’s 44-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Jacob Peters on the next play, giving Cambridge a 28-0 lead before the end of the first quarter. Hoffer recovered a fumble and Kaedin Ogilvie added an interception for Cambridge.
And now the Indians are off to Syracuse again.
“We know we have the target on our back no matter what, we’ll just try to defend it and bring another one home,” Holcomb said.
“I really want to get that feeling back again, and I want everybody else to gain some confidence and so we can all get better next week,” Rowland said. “We know this is going to have to be our best week of practice.”
Class D State Semifinal
Cambridge (11-1) 28 28 0 0 — 56
Millbrook (6-6) 0 8 0 0 — 8
Cam — Dean 4 run (Mooney kick), 10:26
Cam — Dean 16 run (Mooney kick), 7:50
Cam — English 16 run (Mooney kick), 5:06
Cam — Peters 44 pass from Rowland (Mooney kick), 1:39
Cam — Butz 4 run (Mooney kick), 10:49
Cam — Linendoll 6 run (Mooney kick), 9:31
M — Manfredi 82 kickoff return (Jackson run), 9:18
Cam — English 29 run (Mooney kick), 8:13
Cam — Schneider 1 run (Mooney kick), 5:11
RUSHING — Cambridge: English 7-72 2TD, Ogilvie 5-68, Dean 5-53 2TD, Day 12-35, Ruggles 5-25, Butz 3-20 1TD, Linendoll 3-20 1TD, Foyle 4-19, Rowland 1-6, Schneider 2-0 1TD. Millbrook: Jackson 16-41, Manfredi 12-28, Triglia 4-8, T.VanDeBogart 3-(-1), C.VanDeBogart 1-(-11), Burns 2-(-12).
PASSING — Cambridge: Rowland 3-6-1, 72 yards, 1TD. Millbrook: Burns 2-6-2, 9 yards. C.VanDeBogart 0-1-0.
RECEIVING — Cambridge: Peters 1-44 1TD, Holcomb 1-19, Dean 1-9. Millbrook: Manfredi 2-9.