MIDDLETOWN, NY (NEWS10) — Not much was expected of the Warrensburg/North Warren Central/Lake George football team in its’ first year as a combined unit. The Wolverines were selected to finish in just fourth place in the Section II, Class C North Division. But Mike Perrone’s squad not only exceeded expectations this season, they soared past them.

After beating their Section II opponents by an average of over 50 points per game en route to a section title, the Wolverines followed that up with a regional championship after hanging 85 points on Gouverneur. But Warrensburg finally met its’ match in the state semifinals Saturday afternoon, falling to Section IX champion O’Neill 41-22.

The Wolverines came out doing what they’ve done all season long – establishing a strong, physical run game. Senior fullback Tristen Hitchcock capped off their second drive with a four-yard rushing touchdown to put his team on the scoreboard first at 6-0.

Senior running back Brody McCabe followed that up on Warrensburg’s next series with a touchdown of his own. Only his score didn’t come on the ground; Perrone lined him up under center, and he hooked up with senior wide receiver Luke Sheldon on fourth and goal through the air, and the Wolverines owned a 14-point advantage.

But O’Neill would not go quietly. After junior wide receiver Marek Arbogast returned the ensuing kickoff 65 yards for a touchdown, the Raiders put together a drive in the late stages of the second quarter with a chance to tie the game. Senior running back Jordan Thompson punched in a two-yard touchdown on the ground with 2:54 to play before halftime; the Raiders elected to settle for the extra-point, and the Warrensburg lead was down to one at 14-13.

The Wolverines had an answer, though, on their final drive of the first half. Junior quarterback Caden Allen reached paydirt from one yard out on a play-action, QB rollout; they added a two-point conversion to take an eight-point lead into the locker room.

But that would be the last time Warrensburg cracked the scoreboard. The O’Neill offense found a rhythm in the third quarter, and never looked back. After cutting the deficit back down to two points on a 53-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Nick Waugh to Jadon Spain, the Raiders again unleashed an aerial attack to take the lead. With 6:31 to play in the third frame, Waugh hooked up with Arbogast, who reversed his way across the field, and raced into the end zone for a 46-yard score that put O’Neill up 28-22.

The Raiders tacked on two more touchdowns from there, scoring 28 unanswered points to knock Warrensburg from the state playoffs with the 41-22 victory.

After the game, Perrone addressed how difficult it would be to stomach the defeat, but knew that once his team had an opportunity to reflect on the season, they’d realize how much they accomplished this year.

“I’m proud of those kids,” said Perrone. “You know, they competed right ’til the end. They played so hard, and it was a great year, especially with us being in our first year of our merger. You know, I can’t be…more proud of our seniors. It’s tough. These type(s) of huddles…I’m gonna go over there, and have a post-game huddle, and there’s gonna be some tears, but when we look back, I think we’ll look back, and we had a really, really special season.”

Warrensburg’s year comes to a close at 12-1. The Wolverines were undefeated in league play at 7-0. They do lose some key pieces to graduation – McCabe, Hitchcock, and running back Landon Olden are all seniors. But next year’s squad will feature the return of Caden Allen at quarterback, and junior running back Gavin McCabe, who rushed for 312 yards this season, and four touchdowns.