Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Thoughts From The Press Box: A Special Thought about the Whitehall Issue

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I sat here this morning, wondering what exactly I would write about here.

Would I talk about the Queensbury/Burnt Hills game, where Queensbury dominated and suffocated Burnt Hills into their first shutout since 2004?

Or would I talk about the other game we covered, where Warrensburg took advantage early and won their first over the Fort Edward Flying Forts. (A recap of that game still to come)

Nah.  Blog entries for both of those games are still to come.

I want to talk briefly about the mess up in Whitehall, where athletes came together and participated in extracurricular activities during their game with the Rensselaer Rams, forcing the officials to call the game short in the third quarter, with Whitehall leading 28-6.

After the game, there are accusations of racial name-calling and choking.  An assistant coach was ejected, and therefore will not be allowed to participate next week for Rensselaer.  And Christian Poczobut was ejected for Whitehall, making him ineligible for this Friday's game against Holy Trinity.

In addition, the Board of Education stripped head coach Justin Culligan of his job.

It should have never come to this.

Through my few times in contact with him for pregame interviews for our high school football broadcasts, Justin Culligan was a helpful man who would bend over backwards to get us the interview.  And the interviews always were very professional.  When he talked about the opposition, he never had a bad thought about them, or their coach.

That's why it's very shocking to me that all this has gone down.  And because of all this activity, Whitehall loses the most out of this.  Not Rensselaer, who is mostly quiet in the aftermath, but Whitehall.  Rensselaer is going to move onto the next opponent without any disruption to their daily routiene.  But Whitehall will have this distraction as they prepare for Holy Trinity.  The kids will have this weighing on their mind.  And their 100th season is now marred because of this fight.  Unless the postseason run turns out with a trophy the last weekend of November, more are going to remember this season for the melee over the 6-1 record that includes their first win over Cambridge since 1989.

And the team loses out on getting to play an old rival.  The C-D crossover week in Week 8 led to some speculation that Whitehall could renew their rivlary with Granville, an opponent whom the Railroaders have a history with, but saw that rivalry extinguish when Section 2 went to classification play in 2004.

I'm not finger pointing here.  I wasn't at Whitehall when this all went down.  I didn't get to see what the onlookers got to see.  But it seems to me like some of the reason why the game went sour was because the referees kept the laundry in their pocket, finally pulling it out when it was too late.  The referees seemed to lose control of the game, with a sign of this coming during the first incident in the second quarter.  The referees only ejected one, the Rensselaer assistant coach, leaving the players unaffected and allowed to still participate.

Then all hell broke loose in the third quarter, leading to the game being called.

You have to wonder if the refs made it known that this activity would not be allowed, and started sending kids to the showers instead of the sidelines, would this have happened?

It could have sent a message.

And maybe people would be talking about the 6-1 Railroaders instead.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

High School Football: Sectional Brackets

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The pairings for the 2014 High School Football Sectionals have been released by the Section 2 Seeding Committee.  Class AA/A/B/C is an eight team tournament format, and Class D will be a four team tournament starting in Week 9.

All Saturday games, regardless of class, will be scheduled for 2PM to allow for SAT testing.

FOX Sports Radio 1230 will be broadcasting two of these Quarterfinal games, and will release our schedule on Monday.

UPDATE: Chatham replaces Holy Trinity as the C's #8 Seed.
UPDATE #2: Saratoga at LaSalle now to be held at Watervliet HS.

CLASS AA:
L4-Colonie at E1-Shenendehowa - Fri 7P
E3-Saratoga vs L2-LaSalle - Fri 7P at Watervliet High School
L3-Bethlehem at E2-CBA - Fri 7P
E4-Ballston Spa at L1-Shaker - Fri 7P

CLASS A:
SE4-Averill Park at NW1-Queensbury - Sat 2P
NW3-Scotia at SE2-Bishop Maginn - Fri 7P
SE3-Troy at NW2-Burnt Hills - Fri 7P
NW4-Gloversville at SE1-Amsterdam - Fri 7P

CLASS B:
W4-Johnstown at R1-Schalmont - Fri 7P
R3-Ravena at W2-Broadalbin-Perth - Fri 7P
W3-Glens Falls at R2-Cohoes - Sat 2P
R4-Albany Academy at W1-Schuylerville - Fri 7P

CLASS C:
8-Chatham at 1-Hoosick Falls - Fri 7P
5-Coxsackie-Athens at 4-Corinth - Fri 7P
6-Mechanicville at 3-Voorheesville - Sat 2P
7-Greenwich at 2-Fonda - Sat 2P

CLASS D:
Four team playoff - Both Semifinals at Schuylerville HS on November 1st
3-Rensselaer vs 2-Cambridge - Sat 1P
4-Canajoharie vs 1-Whitehall - Sat 7P

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Matt Shell Interview: Shellstrong Foundation

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During the half of our broadcast on Friday between Queensbury and Burnt Hills, we ran a feature with Burnt Hills coach Matt Shell about a foundation that is near and dear to his heart, the Shellstrong Foundation.

As we know there were many of you who were unable to listen to the interview, we're giving you the chance to hear it here online.


If you want to help out the Shellstrong Foundation, click here.

Queensbury blanks Burnt Hills, wins divisional title

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BURNT HILLS - Chris Goudy scored a couple first-half touchdowns as the Queensbury defense shuts out the Burnt Hills Spartans 42-0.

The win seals the Northwest Division for the Queensbury Spartans, guaranteeing them home dates for the Quarterfinals and Semifinals of the Class A Sectionals.

It didn't come easy for the defending state champions as the first possession for the Queensbury Spartans ended with Drew Wilson fumbling the ball in the red zone, giving Burnt Hills the ball.

But it quickly became apparent that the Queensbury defense was going to be stingy.

The defense held John Clayton, the Burnt Hills junior quarterback, to 5-for-16 for 57 yards, and was picked off by Terry Karanikas on a fourth and long in the second quarter.

The running game for Burnt Hills also had trouble, with Mike Leveroni running for 22 yards on 7 carries.  Danny Maynard, Burnt Hills leading rusher, only picked up 14 yards on 6 carries, but left the game early in the second half with an ankle injury that kept him on the sidelines for the remainder of the game.

Any attempt Burnt Hills made to get deep in Queensbury territory was met with heavy resistance, resulting in several turnover on downs.

It was Burnt Hills's first loss at home since 2005, when they lost to eventual sectional champion Amsterdam in the semifinals, and the Spartans first shutout since 2004, when the Queensbury Spartans shut them out in a regular season game.

Chris Goudy finished with 115 yards on 17 carries, and Brett Rodriguez had 95 yards on 10 carries.  Rodriguez showed off his arm on an option pass, as he aired it out to an open Keegan O'Leary for a 50 yard gain before Rodriguez ran it in from the 1 yard line.

Queensbury returns home to face Averill Park, who fell into the #4 seed in the Southeast Division after Troy and Amsterdam won their games over Lansingburgh and Bishop Maginn respectively.  Burnt Hills will remain home for their quarterfinal match against Troy next week.  Burnt Hills beat Troy soundly back in Week 3.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Week 7: Queensbury at Burnt Hills

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We're off to see the wizard.

Actually, we're heading for the Hills.  Catch live coverage of the Queensbury Spartans and the Burnt Hills Spartans starting at 6:45PM.  And for more coverage during the game, be sure to follow us on Twitter.

We'll be tweeting when we can.  You can also follow The Post-Star's Pete Tobey for more frequent updates from Burnt Hills.

During the pregame, we'll have both coaches, Queensbury coach John Irion and Burnt Hills coach Matt Shell, as they talk about the upcoming game and their game plan.

During the half, Matt Shell will join us once again as he talks about a foundation that is near and dear to his heart, the Shellstrong Foundation.

So be sure to listen, and if you miss the halftime interview, we'll have it up here on the blog for you to listen sometime over the weekend.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Week 6 Winners & Losers + Week 7 Games To Watch

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CLASS AA
WINNER: Shaker - We've already talked about Shaker here on this blog, but they get another nod for the manner they disposed of Bethlehem and now are in position to win the division with a win over rival Colonie on Friday.

LOSER: Schenectady - Had the Patriots been better with their extra point conversions, we could be talking about them being in a comfortable position entering the final week of the season to make the playoffs.  Instead they must win their Week 7 game against LaSalle.  A loss eliminates them with no chance for outside help.

Games To Watch
Saratoga Springs (3-3) at Ballston Spa (2-4) - Fri, 7PM: The good news is that Saratoga Springs holds the tiebreaker over Guilderland should they lose, but the bad news would be that if that situation comes to be, they'll be possibly making a trip south to Shaker for the first round, a team who already beat the Blue Streaks this season.  Ballston Spa needs the win to get in.

Colonie (4-2) at Shaker (5-1) - Fri, 7PM: Another year where the Colonie Cup will come into play when it comes to playoff seeding.  And this time it's for the top spot in the Liberty Division.  Shaker has rattled off five straight wins since losing to CBA to start the season, whereas Colonie could wind up with any of the four seeds with this game.  A win guarantees them the #1 seed, but a loss could throw Colonie into a Week 8 meeting at Shenendehowa.

LaSalle (2-4) at Schenectady (3-3) - Fri, 7PM: And this is the game that could throw Colonie as far down as the #4 seed.  A LaSalle win over Schenectady will clinch their berth into the playoffs.  Where they end up as far as seeding is concerned depends on the Colonie/Shaker game as well as the Bethlehem/Columbia game.  Schenectady will have one seed if they win, the #4 seed.

Bethlehem (4-2) at Columbia (1-5) - Fri, 7PM: Back-to-back losses against Colonie and Shaker has Bethlehem in a position where if they make the playoffs, they're going to have to play on the road next week.  The Eagles do not want to open the Quarterfinals against Shenendehowa.

CLASS A
WINNER: Amsterdam - The Rugged Rams were critiqued heavily by onlookers after dropping their first game against Cornwall, and those same came out in masses when they lost to Averill Park.  But last Friday's win against Troy was a statement that the Rugged Rams aren't dead.  And now they have the chance to play for the #1 seed.

LOSER: Troy - It was going to be a season of change for the Troy Flying Horses, but how bad the change was going to affect them on the field is becoming more extreme with each loss.  After losses to Bishop Maginn and Amsterdam, the Flying Horses have no chance at playing at home next week, and now find themselves playing Burnt Hills or Queensbury on the road -- two teams the Flying Horses fell to handily in the regular season.

Games To Watch
Queensbury (6-0) at Burnt Hills (5-1) - Fri, 7PM: The two games between Spartans last year remained close and dramatic until the very end -- with Queensbury coming out winners both times. Many are already talking as these will be the two teams left standing come Week 10. The winner gets the #1 seed and will be guaranteed to play at home in Week 9, but the loser will likely face a road game should they win their first round sectional game.

Bishop Maginn (6-0) at Amsterdam (4-2) - Fri, 7PM: If Bishop Maginn is to walk into the playoffs with the #1 seed, they first must walk out of Amsterdam with a win.  Bishop Maginn can fare no worse than a #2 seed, but Amsterdam can drop down to having to face Burnt Hills or Queensbury in the first round as they lose the tiebreaker against Averill Park.

Averill Park (4-2) at Scotia (4-2) - Fri, 7PM: With the right recipe, this could be the start of a home-and-home series, with Averill Park potentially possessing the Southeast's #2 seed and the Scotia Tartans guaranteed the Northwest's #3 seed.  You probably will see some chess maneuvering that you wouldn't otherwise see, with either team not wanting to release too much of their playbook in the event both will meet the following week.

South Glens Falls (1-5) at Gloversville (2-4) - Fri, 7PM: One playoff spot in Class A isn't set in stone.  The winner of this game will be awarded the #4 seed and will travel to either Bishop Maginn or Amsterdam for the first round next week.  The loser is out of the playoffs and will be playing a crossover game.

CLASS B
WINNER: Cohoes - Exiting their non-divisional game against the Glens Falls Indians, the Tigers looked soft.  They had just lost 40-20 to fall to 1-3.  Since then, the Tigers have won back-to-back games and now find themselves with an opportunity to snatch the #2 seed from Ravena with a win over the Indians at their home debut this Friday night.

LOSER: Johnstown - It was a non-divisional game, but a big statement could have been made had Johnstown held onto their 28-20 lead in the 4th quarter against Ravena.  The Sir Bills, still pushing for their first winning season in nearly 20 years, turned the ball over and yielded two quick touchdowns to give the Indians the victory.

Games To Watch
Ravena (5-1) at Cohoes (3-3) - Fri, 7PM: The Cohoes Tigers have spent all season on the road and are finally coming home after renovations to their field.  And what a big game they will face on their homecoming under portable lights - a chance to snatch away the #2 seed in the Reinfurt Division from the Ravena Indians.  Winner will get to stay at home next week.

Hudson Falls (3-3) at Broadalbin-Perth (4-2) - Fri, 7PM: The Hudson Falls Tigers can make things easier on themselves with a win over the Patriots, as that would secure a playoff spot without having to play spectator at the following day's Johnstown/Glens Falls game.  And with the right ingredients, the Tigers could turn what could be a trip to Rotterdam into a home date next weekend.  Broadalbin-Perth cannot be the #1 team, but can secure their #2 seed with a win at home.

Johnstown (3-3) at Glens Falls (2-4) - Sat, 1:30PM: Last year, the Glens Falls Indians lost their home finale, but still got outside help to continue their playoff streak.  This year, the Indians are on their own.  They need a win, otherwise they will miss the playoffs for the first time in nearly two decades.  Johnstown isn't in yet, but a win will push them through to the playoffs.  A loss won't doom them if Broadalbin-Perth beats Hudson Falls, as it would push them into a three-way tie where they hope their quarter points are sufficient enough to make Hudson Falls's loss back in Week 2 matter.

Hudson (2-4) at Albany Academy (2-4) - Sat, 1:30PM: The winner of this game will win the right to travel to Schuylerville for the Quarterfinals next Friday as the Reinfurt's #4 seed.  The loser is out of the playoffs, and will play a crossover game next week.

CLASS C
WINNER: Fonda - The Braves played Westhill strong back in Week 1 at the Carrier Dome.  And held strong against Coxsackie-Athens in the first half before blowing the game open in the second half.  Fonda's playing some great football since their trip to Syracuse and could arguably be the best team in Class C right now, even above Hoosick Falls.  The Braves have allowed only 34 points since Week 1, while averaging over 50 points per game since.

LOSER: Corinth - After back-to-back tough games against Greenwich and Hoosick Falls (and Schuylerville in week 2), the Corinth Tomahawks could have enjoyed homecoming with a tune-up against Schoburg to get them ready for Fonda this week.  However, that game disappeared as Schoburg was forced to forfeit due to injuries.  This week will provide a challenge for Corinth, and it doesn't get any easier from here on out with the playoffs around the corner.

Games To Watch
Fonda (5-1) at Corinth (4-2) - Fri, 7:00PM: Fonda's locked in as one of the top 3 seeds, and Corinth is locked in as one of the middle 3 seeds for the postseason.  So this match could very well be a preview for a playoff game.  With that said, Corinth will be fighting hard after not getting to play last week, and Fonda will want to continue making a statement in Section 2.

Mechanicville (5-1) at Holy Trinity (4-2) - Sat, 1:00PM: The winner clinches the #2 spot in the Central Division, and the loser has to hope their resume is well enough to grab one of the two wild card spots.  Greenwich and Chatham will be watching this game closely as their playoff chances could hang in the balance.

CLASS D
WINNER: Cambridge - After their 21-19 loss to Whitehall in the rain two weeks ago, the Indians bounced back in a big way with their win over Warrensburg.  Ethan English was perfect, Caleb Rowland and Chris Warnke provided English with big plays, and the Cambridge Indians made a statement that the loss at Ambrose Gilligan Field was a small setback and that the Indians are still a contender for the Class D Sectional title.

LOSER: Whitehall - Meanwhile, the Whitehall Railroaders looked well on their way to a 6-0 start by building a 20-0 lead in the first quarter against Hoosic Valley.  But then it fell apart, as the Railroaders allowed 27 unanswered points to trail 27-20 in the third quarter.  Justin Hoagland's kickoff return for a touchdown gave the Railroaders hope to tie the game, but Justin Culligan went for two on a pass attempt, and never saw the lead again as the pass failed.

Games To Watch
Rensselaer (4-2) at Whitehall (5-1) - Sat, 1:00PM: So, according to The Post-Star's Pete Tobey, Whitehall should have enough quarter points should that they lose the game against the Rams, their head-to-head against Cambridge in the first tiebreaker in the quarter points system will yield them the #1 seed.  But after losing to Hoosic Valley, the Railroaders are going to want to make sure they're ready for the playoffs.  Remember, they narrowly beat Canajoharie in Week 1 on a goal-line stance, therefore Justin Culligan will want to make sure that the team is freshly prepped for the battle come Week 9.

Hoosic Valley (5-1) at Cambridge (5-1) - Sat, 1:00PM: Hoosic Valley finishes off the season with an explosive Cambridge Indians offense that, like Whitehall, will want to use this game to gear up for the playoffs come two weeks from this weekend.  The Indians are having an exceptional season, and are hoping to give it an exclamation point with a win over one of the perennial teams to beat.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Thoughts From The Press Box: A Friday Night in Moreau

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SOUTH GLENS FALLS - Worried about Brett Rodriguez's health entering the season?

No need to worry.  After three special team touchdowns and two more rushing touchdowns, I think Rodriguez is fine.

With or without Rodriguez, the Spartans won the game on the first play of the game, when Juan Escamilla booted an onside kick that the Bulldogs were not prepared for, and the Spartans quickly cashed in with Tyrell Adams run up the middle for the score.

And what a run by Adams, going 97 yards to score to set up the craziest three minutes of football I've ever seen, with two kickoff returns for touchdowns to follow.

Queensbury got to feature their backups early, as some unfamiliar names started to show up in the second quarter for Coach John Irion.  These are the faces who you will be familiarizing yourself with next year, but getting valuable experience now.

In addition, the Spartans got to rest key starters for what's bound to be a 48 minute slugfest down in Burnt Hills, where the winner is guaranteed home dates for Weeks 8 and 9, and the loser may be forced to play on the road come Halloween night.

The Bulldogs have promise.  John Styzcynski has good running ability.  He kept with Tyrell Adams in pursuit during Adams 97 yard touchdown run and followed that up with an 85 yard effort on the ensuing kickoff to give the Bulldogs their first score of the game.

And the Bulldogs aren't out of the playoff chase yet.  With their win over Green Tech, it sets up a win-and-you're-in scenario at Gloversville this Friday.  The winner will claim the final seed in the playoffs, and the loser will be playing crossover games next week.

It's not something Coach Hammond wanted to talk much about in preparation for the game versus Queensbury, but it's something he's reminding the troops about this week at practice.

They still have a shot.
***
South Glens Falls, as well as Hudson Falls, is a school that gives you a great feeling when you're at a high school football game.

That's because they have something other schools don't have these days.  A pep band.  The sound of the horns and the drums helping electrify the crowd when a big play happens.  Like the feeling you have at a collegiate game, just with a more local, hometown feel.

It helps the atmosphere, and it's a shame schools have cut back on the budgets and forced school music departments to shed away their participation at games.  

Growing up that is one of the things I remember when I was at school at Hudson Falls.  The sound of the band when David Winters would break through the defensive line into the secondary for a huge gain.  Or the play that put the Tigers in for 6.

I just wish more schools that still have a music program would get them involved in their team's home games.  Even if it's for that team's homecoming game -- make the Friday night or Saturday afternoon even better with the sound of the band chiming in with their school spirit.
***
We had some technical difficulties during our broadcast that prevented us from playing the interviews we conducted with South Glens Falls coach Mike Hammond and Queensbury coach John Irion.

Even though some of these items discussed within these interviews deal with the game itself and therefore outdated, here are the interviews as they were intended to air on Friday night.

Queensbury coach John Irion:

Check this out on Chirbit
South Glens Falls coach Mike Hammond:

Check this out on Chirbit
NEXT BROADCAST: - FRIDAY - Queensbury at Burnt Hills - Coverage begins at 6:45PM