Cambridge: What it means to be a champion

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Coming from a town with a population of just over 2,000 people, the Cambridge football team is one rooted in community.

From the players they go to war with on the field every day to the fans that have cheered them on throughout their historic run, an Indians win is a win everyone in the community can cherish.

A whole sea of black and orange flanked the Carrier Dome stands Friday afternoon — matching the Syracuse's orange — for Cambridge's Class D state championship game and those fans got to see their beloved Indians make history. The Indians topped Maple Grove 26-14 in a rematch of last season's state title game, making them the first team in Section II history to win back-to-back state championships.

For Cambridge, Friday's win meant so much on many different levels.

Indians wide receiver Brenden Holcomb finished up his Cambridge career Friday and he hopes his team's win will show other smaller Section II teams that winning back-to-back state titles is an attainable goal.

"It sets the stage for other Section II teams," Holcomb said. "They know they can do it. Future generations can now look up to us and be like 'we want to be better than that team.'"

Not many high school athletes get the chance to play at the Carrier Dome, let alone play there twice. Getting the chance to play on a field where so many major athletic feats, both on the football field and basketball court, have happened, is an opportunity that is hard to replicate.

"It has to be one of my favorite times of my entire life so far," said quarterback Zack Rowland about the opportunity to play in the Carrier Dome with his team for the second time. "It's my senior year and I get to send it off with the kids I love the most."

The Cambridge football program is bred and developed together from a very young age and the eventual goal is always to play in The Dome.

"Playing youth football and all the way, the end goal is to get to The Dome every year," Holcomb said. "Getting the chance to play two state championships here against the same team feels awesome."

The Cambridge community is a small one, but as passionate as you're going to find. The trip from Cambridge to Syracuse is nearly three hours, so the fans would be forgiven if they didn't make the long trek out West. But with the amount of fans that attended the game Friday afternoon, you would think they were from right down the road.

The Indians had a police and fire truck escort out of town before 7 a.m. Friday morning with countless cheering fans at the four corners. The community support has been prevalent throughout their historic run. And on Friday night, heading back home, they had another escort — a parade as the Indians head back.

"You look up into the stands and all of Cambridge is here," said Cambridge coach Doug Luke, who won his third state title Friday, one of only a handful of coaches in New York state history to reach the milestone. "They've been fantastic. It'll be fun going home and getting a little parade tonight. Everything here is exciting. It's exciting for the community and the kids and the coaches."

"It's amazing. It just gives us something to play for other than ourselves," Rowland added. "We're bringing this back to the community of Cambridge and the people. This is a community win for Cambridge."

Adam Aucoin can be reached at aaucoin@benningtonbanner.com and at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.


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