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Indians Sports

Late playoff surge is nothing new at Owego

Posted Wednesday, October 17, 2007 by Binghamton Press
Late playoff surge is nothing new at Owego

Even though his team opened the season 0-3, Owego Free Academy coach Steve Virkler wasn't quite ready to push the panic button.

Maybe the previous two seasons had something to do with that. After opening 1-3 in both 2005 and 2006, the Indians rebounded to qualify for the Section 4 Class B playoffs both times.

On Friday, Owego completed yet another turnaround, qualifying for its third straight Class B playoff appearance with a 21-8 victory over Elmira Notre Dame, the Indians' fourth straight victory.

After finishing its regular season this Friday at Ithaca, Owego will visit Division III champion Chenango Forks the following weekend in a Section 4 Class B semifinal game.

"One of the biggest things is, we've been putting points on the board," said Virkler, whose team has averaged 41 points a game during its four-game winning streak. "We were struggling to do that before, we had our chances but we would get bogged down or make mistakes."

Owego's schedule certainly played a factor in its slow start this season. The Indians' first three opponents -- Corning East, Waverly, and Chenango Valley -- have a combined record of 18-3.

But Virkler also pointed to some other factors in Owego's turnaround, among them the play of running back Parker Evans and quarterback Dan Brainard.

Evans, Owego's leading rusher with 509 yards, has surpassed the 100-yard mark in each of his last three games. Brainard, meanwhile, has completed 23 of 37 passes for 519 yards and nine touchdowns during the four-game winning streak.

"Parker's really stepped up offensively for us, and Dan has played pretty solidly for us all year long," Virkler said.

Virkler also noted that in the season-opener against Corning East, he had nine players playing both ways. Now, he has four.

That has helped improve the Indians' defensive play. Owego has allowed just 21 points over the last four games.

"Certain guys have (improved) as the season has gone on." Virkler said. "We're a lot fresher now."

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