Tuesday, September 18, 2012

High School Football - Week 3 in review

It was another busy week in Section II football, as teams try to recover from early-season miscues to put them in better position to make the playoffs in late October.  But these first three weeks may just be appetizers for the entre├ęs still to come.

Here's FOX Sports Radio 1230's cruise around Section II football.

In week one, Shenedehowa emerged as one of the toughest teams in the class with an easy win against Albany High.  However, many threw that win aside because it was against a team that has lost 30+ games in a row.

Those critics have been silenced after their week 3 57-0 victory against Bethlehem.  Through 3 games, Shen has outscored their opponents 149-6.  Their 5th week game against undefeated Shaker (3-0, 2-0), although it won't be a conference showdown, could foreshadow the Section II Class AA playoffs down the road.

Speaking of Shaker, they went into Columbia and took down the undefeated squad 47-12.  Ryan Griffin padded his stats with 4 rushing touchdowns, and Chris Landers launched for two passing touchdowns.

This Week's Game to Watch: CBA (3-0, 3-0) @ Saratoga Springs (2-1, 2-0) - Both CBA and Saratoga Springs are undefeated (Saratoga Springs' week 1 loss was to inter-conference rival Niskayuna) in divisional play.  The winner of this game will have a stronger hold on the division leading to Week 6 (Saratoga Springs) and Week 7 (CBA) showdowns against Shenendahowa.

Saratoga Springs have had close games against Bethlehem and Albany, but what matters most is that they emerged victorious.  Jake Eglintine had an impressive game against Albany, with 4 TDs (two pass, two rush) and intercepted his Albany counterpart too.  Dakota Harvey will also be a player to watch, returning a 79 yard kickoff return for a TD last week and also rushing one in as well.  If there's something the Blue Streaks need to work on this week, it's their defense.  Albany outgained the Blue Streaks 385-279, yet turned the ball over 4 times.  They might not get lucky when a stronger set of hands team comes to town. 

The Brothers have a variety of weapons, but Connor Crotty and Spencer Hall will be two to watch.  Crotty had a rushing and a receiving touchdown last week against LaSalle.  The Brothers also do a good job getting to the QB, as illustrated in their game against Albany where they had 6 sacks.  

Notable stat: The Brothers have scored 55 of their 121 points this season in the 2nd Quarter.  They have only scored 7 points in the 4th Quarter.

If anyone was hoping that their week 1 loss to Averil Park was going to slow down the Amsterdam Rugged Rams (1-0, 2-1), think again.  In the first divisional showdown for both teams, Amsterdam emerged victorious against the Queensbury Spartans  (0-1, 1-2) on Saturday.  In what was an epic battle between both teams that has been recapped by the press as "the way football was meant to be", the Spartans kept clawing back into the game before Brett Stanavich broke through with a 57 yard touchdown run that sealed the game with 2:41 left.  He rushed for 187 yards on 12 carries (15.5 ypc) and scored 3 touchdowns, and will be one to watch when we get to see him on October 13th at South Glens Falls.  

The Spartans have another tough game coming up when they travel to Burnt Hills on Friday.  Kody Bruno has become a player of note for the Spartans, scoring 3 of the 4 touchdowns against the Rugged Rams.  Tim Voorhis scored the other rushing touchdown, which at that time was a go-ahead touchdown to put them up 26-21.

Speaking of Burnt Hills (1-0, 2-1), they have bounced back from their week 1 loss to Troy with shutouts against Class B powerhouse Schalmont and South Glens Falls.  The southern Spartans have Dan Porter, who scored on a 65 yard touchdown on his way to 100 yards on only 3 carries against the Bulldogs.  And although the Spartans completed passes only three times, two of them led to touchdowns.  

This Week's Game to Watch: Gloversville (0-0, 1-2) @ Amsterdam (1-0, 2-1) - Although Gloversville has a 1-2 record, their loss to Class AA Niskayuna could be more inspirational as they face off against the Rugged Rams, especially since they were down at the half 27-0.  Mike Murray helped Gloversville with catching a 29 yard pass from Asa Barnhill.  

Broadalbin-Perth kept its record perfect with a 35-12 win over the Hudson Falls TigersGabe Mendez scored three touchdowns through the air, going to targets Anthony Visco, Luigi Magliocca and Andre TaylorTim Gordon added to his touchdown totals with a 13 yard run in the 2nd quarter.  For the Tigers, Curtis Boddie, the name I couldn't remember last week twice on-air, made sure that I remember who he was after scoring two late game touchdowns to put the Tigers on the board. 

Meanwhile, an epic showdown occurred down in Schenectady as Schuylerville and Schalmont clashed.  Devon Willis opened the scoring for Schalmont.  While Danny Waldron answered back with a run of his own, the extra point went wide.  Everytime Schalmont scored, Schuylerville would answer back with a score of their own.  But there was a difference: Schalmont converted three of their extra point tries, whereas Schuylerville did not convert any extra points, and that would prove to be the difference as Schalmont bounced back from their shutout loss to Burnt Hills in week 2 with a 27-24 win.

Cam Girard helped the Glens Falls Indians take care of the Cobleskill-Richmondville Bulldogs (1-2, 1-2) 55-21.  Mike Lanoir was the recipient of three of Girard's four touchdown passes.  Joe McMahon rushed for a 64 yard touchdown in the 3rd Quarter.  Seth Billington ran in for all three of the Bulldogs touchdowns.

Meanwhile the Reinfurt division is becoming a battle of three teams as Albany Academy defeated Hudson 49-6, Ravena dismantled Ichabod Crane 41-6 and Lansingburgh beat Cohoes 35-7, all to stay unbeaten this year.

This Week's Game(s) to Watch: (TIE) Broadalbin-Perth (2-0, 3-0) @ Schalmont (2-0, 2-1) - The real test for Broadalbin-Perth begins now with back-to-back-to-back divisional showdowns.  Schalmont cannot be taken lightly, as a weak defensive line will allow Devon Willis to eat up yards.  Nick Gallo is also a player to watch for Schalmont, scoring 3 touchdowns through three games. Broadalbin-Perth's first three wins have come against Class C Stillwater, Johnstown and Hudson Falls.  With two home games against Glens Falls and Schuylerville after this, a win will give them much-needed momentum.  A loss will give Schalmont a strong hold on the division as they finish the season on the road at Cobleskill-Richmondville, Johnstown and Hudson Falls.  Whomever wins leads the West.

Albany Academy (3-0, 3-0) @ Ravena (3-0, 3-0) - In the Reinfurt, at least one of the three undefeated teams in the division will go down when these two top teams meet up on Friday night.  Darrien White and Ian Bennett both had two touchdowns each in Albany Academy's 49-6 win over HudsonDylan Keyer scored two touchdowns for Ravena in their win over Ichabod Crane last week.  The run game has proved to be good for the Indians as they rushed for 285 yards, while holding Ichabod Crane to only 33.  Ravena could use a win here, as they have Class A Amsterdam and fellow undefeated Lansingburgh after this.  

Hoosick Falls has scored 44 points per game through their first three games.  On Friday, they beat Taconic Hills 47-8. Brad Burns ran for 155 yards and 3 touchdowns for the Panthers.  He has 6 touchdowns so far this season.  The defense have been strong, too, recording 4 picks last week and holding Taconic Hills to only 40 yards on the ground.  

And congratulations to Coxsackie-Athens, who recorded a win for the first time in two years.  Just a shame that they couldn't have done it in front of their friends, family and alumni, as they played South Seneca out of Section V in Binghamton. 

A little closer to home, Corinth saw their first loss of the season when they fell to Stillwater 29-13.  Liam Kane was looking very good for Stillwater with 130 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns.  

In Watervliet (2-1, 1-1), Fonda-Fultonville (2-0, 2-0) took a 6-0 lead off a Pat Hart rushing touchdown.  With the history of these two schools, 6-0 is not a safe lead.  But with fumbles and interceptions, and touchdowns waived off due to penalty or out of bounds calls, the game on Saturday quickly turned into a defensive battle.  In the  4th Quarter, Taylor Dockstader launched a ball into the end zone to Jordan Gleason, but it was caught out of bounds.  Then Dockstader launched again, this time to receiver Logan Miller, but his foot hit the line as he was coming down with the pass, and thus was out of bounds by inches.  Fonda-Fultonville won the battle 6-0, with Pat Hart churning up 223 yards on 40 carries.

This Week's Game to Watch: Chatham (2-0, 3-0) @ Fonda-Fultonville (2-0, 2-0) - Chatham has outscored their opponents 144-6 through 3 weeks, with only Coxsackie-Athens getting points on the board against the Panthers.  Jesse Whiteman is a huge reason why, accumulating 7 touchdowns through 3 weeks of play.  He can rush, he can receive and he can defend, all accounting for his touchdowns so far this season.  But he is not the only player Fonda-Fultonville will have to worry about, as 6 different players put points on the board for the Panthers last week.  Defensively, they will cause some trouble for the opposing QB, getting 5 sacks and a pick against Voorheesville last week.  If Fonda-Fultonville's defense is as good as they were last week against the Cannoneers, we could be seeing another game where defense makes the difference between leading the south and being in the traffic jam for 2nd seed.

In the final week of North vs. South before divisonal play begins, the Warrensburg Burghers (0-0, 1-2) took care of the Bishop Gibbons Golden Knights (0-0, 0-3) as heard here on FOX Sports Radio 1230 on Saturday.  Nolan Maltbie got things going early for Warrensburg, scoring 3 rushing touchdowns as the Burghers took an  early 24-0 lead over Bishop Gibbons.

After Kenny Draper put Bishop Gibbons on the board with an impressive 30 yard run in to score, Connor Scott squished any momentum that the Golden Knights got in the 2nd quarter with an 85 yard kickoff return to put the Burghers up 32-6.  After a couple scoreless series for both teams, the Burghers punted the ball into the hands of their hot QB, David Haskell, who avoided a few tackles and got key blocks to run in to score from 65 yards out.  With time running out in the half, Warrensburg took to the air and launched a Marcus Perrone pass into the hands of Shea Irish, who ran in for the touchdown and the 40-12 lead at the half.  

In the 2nd half, it was still all Warrensburg, getting touchdowns from Nick Nedelcu, Joey Schuster and another from Nedelcu with time winding down.  Haskell would run in to score once more in the game for Bishop Gibbons, as the Burghers won 64-18.  

Cause for concern: David Haskell handled many of the carries in the 3rd and 4th quarters when main running back, Jaylen McIntyre went down with an injury.  He would not return, and all hopes with the FOX Sports Radio 1230 crew is that he's okay for their next game against Cambridge (0-0, 3-0).  Morgan Mintzer also went down during the game and was wobbly heading back to the sidelines.  Rumors on the sidelines was that Mintzer had a concussion during the game and like with McIntyre, we are hoping for the best.

As Bishop Gibbons is a short team (25 players on initial roster, only 18 were suited on Saturday), quantity-wise, injuries during this time of the year are going to be more critical than on a team with a larger roster such as Shaker (42 players on their roster).

Warrensburg gets the Salem Generals (0-0, 1-2) next, who had tough road games against Greenwich (0-0, 3-0) and Rensselaer (0-0, 3-0) in the past two weeks.  We'll get our peek at Salem when they play the Flying Forts of Fort Edward (0-0, 2-1) on September 29th (12:45PM on FOX Sports Radio 1230).  After being shut out against high-flying Cambridge (0-0, 3-0) in week 1, the Flying Forts have put together back-to-back shutouts against Bishop Gibbons and Catholic Central (0-0, 0-3) to be the only team in the North with a winning record heading into divisional play.

This Week's Game to Watch: Rensselaer (0-0, 3-0) @ Canajoharie (0-0, 3-0) - With four teams at 3-0 in the South, these next five weeks are going to be critical towards crowning a #1 seed.  With only four teams making it overall, two per division in Class D, this game will go a long ways towards settling the logjam on the top of the standings.  After allowing 20 points to Warrensburg, Canajoharie has only allowed 6 against Lake George and WhitehallRensselaer's games have been closer, but have done so through careful mix of the run and the pass.  Steven Harwood will be a player to watch for Rensselaer, and Kevin Shannon will be a player to watch for Canajoharie.

THIS WEEK ON FOX Sports Radio 1230:
Johnstown Sir Bills (0-2, 0-3) @ Glens Falls Indians (2-1, 2-1) - Saturday, 1:30PM - The Johnstown Sir Bills clamped down defensively to hold Tamarac to only 6 points off an unfortunate turnover.  They will try to mix up their offense to battle the Glens Falls Indians.  On paper, the Indians may be stronger, but you cannot discount the Sir Bills.  Last year the Sir Bills played spoiler against the Hudson Falls Tigers when they got their first win of the season.  As a result, the Tigers had to play Albany Academy, and although they won earlier in the season against them, the second meeting was not as fortunate as Albany Academy went on to lose to Schalmont in the Class B Super Bowl.

A more thorough preview of this game is coming Friday, and be sure to listen Saturday to FOX Sports Radio 1230 for the game.

09/22 - Johnstown Sir Bills @ Glens Falls Indians - 1:15PM

09/29 - Salem Generals @ Fort Edward Flying Forts - 12:45PM
10/05 - Whitehall Railroaders @ Lake George Warriors - 6:45PM FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

10/13 - Amsterdam Rugged Rams @ South Glens Falls Bulldogs - 1:15PM
10/20 - Playoff Week - Teams TBA
10/27 - Playoff Week - Teams TBA

Monday, September 3, 2012

High School Football - Week 1 in Review

Labor Day weekend ushered in the beginning of a new High School Football season.  Every week, following the slate of High School Football games here in Section II, look here for our thoughts on the games that took place that week.  New weekly recaps will be posted on Sundays or Mondays during the entire season.

This week: Two close games in Class AA, our full recap of the game we did live on the radio, and our thoughts on early contenders for local titles.

CLASS AA: Bethlehem @ Ballston Spa; Columbia @ Schenectady; Shenedehowa @ Albany
Two tough losses to stomach in week 1 occured at both Ballston Spa and Schenectady.  In Ballston Spa, down by 7 with 15 seconds left, they scored a touchdown to put themselves within one and needing the extra point.  Now, remember, in professional football, the PAT is not always a guaranteed point and that holds even more truer in high school football.  This was the case in Ballston Spa, where with 8 seconds left, the PAT was missed, and Bethlehem would go on to win 19-18.

Over in Schenectady, down 32-6 in the 4th Quarter, they would roll off 25 points to get themselves down by 1 to Columbia.  With the opportunity to tie the game on the extra point, Schenectady pulled out the trick playbook and tried to win the game on a fake for 2.  Only Matt Briggs came and stopped it, and Schenectady's comeback rally would come up 1 point short.

How about Shenedehowa.  Granted they were facing an Albany High team that has lost 37 games in a row going into Friday night's battle, but putting up 58 points convincingly throws them into the mix for the Class AA crown.

CLASS AA-A Crossover - Shaker @ Queensbury
The game we broadcasted live on FOX Sports Radio 1230 was a tale of two different stories.  Originally, our focus was Ryan Griffin, a senior on the Shaker Blue Bisons who has dazzled his way to the top of the media's players-to-watch list, and we found out it was good reason on Saturday.

The true story emerged on Tuesday with the unfortunate passing of Jonathan Vasiliou (pronounced VAS-EH-LEO).  For awhile, it was a question to whether or not we would be able to do the game.  But Queensbury wanted us there, and we were happy to be there. 
For the game: Yes, the Spartans went down to Class AA Shaker 48-20, but the final score was little indication of what to expect from the Spartans.  The Spartans were slow out of the gate, whereas the Blue Bisons were quick, scoring on their first drive on the back of Chris Landers, whose arm cracked the Spartans defense with a 28 yard pass to receiver Michael Lewis, and then used his legs to break through the cracks for a 43 yard touchdown run.  He would go on to have 3 touchdowns.

Star running back Ryan Griffin then used his legs to break the Spartans goal-line defense after being set up by a Jackson 23 yard run.  A punt return by the Blue Bisons then made the game 21-0. 

Griffin also served as the team's main kicker, who did mostly a good job pinning the Spartans deep, with the exception of a kickoff that went out-of-bounds, putting the Spartans on the 35 yard line. 

Up 35-0, the Spartans brought energy to the crowd with a long drive that capped with a 8 yard touchdown rush by Junior Philip Wettersten.  The roar of the crowd there would only be beat in the 3rd Quarter.

After going into the half 42-6, coach John Irion said words of wisdom to the players.  Whatever was said worked, as the Spartans came out and took the kickoff down the field for a 7 play drive capped by Evan Myers, running the ball into the end zone on a 25 yard rush.  The crowd really got into it following a Shaker kickoff return fumble when Alston Moses rushed in a 25 yarder himself to close the score to 42-20. 

Shaker would score once more and then run out the clock in the 4th Quarter to win.  Ryan Griffin did not play much if not at all in the 2nd half, allowing himself to rest up for the rest of the challenging Class AA schedule. 

But you have to give credit to the Spartans for coming out in the 2nd half with the back-to-back touchdown drives.  This Spartans team may have some holes, including Nic Ketter, who led the team with rushing yards last year.  But what we learned on Saturday - they've got several runners who could fill the void if their offensive line gives them the room to.

Class A: Averill Park @ Amsterdam, Bishop Maginn @ Gloversville, Troy @ Burnt Hills
One of the biggest upsets in Class A on Friday night was the Amsterdam Rams losing to Averill Park 30-24.  Amsterdam, a strong favorite to win the #1 seed, made things wide open when Mike Hayes ran in for a 4 yard touchdown for Averill Park in the 4th Quarter. 

Gloversville looked strong, beating Bishop Maginn easily 44-20.  Coach Jared Bongo told the Leader Herald that the team brought back "solid skill players with outstanding speed."  They used that speed to good use against Bishop Maginn and could make a strong case for the #1 seed. 

Troy looked weak against Burnt Hills in the 1st half, getting only 37 yards, but turned it on in the 2nd half to snap a 3 game losing streak to Burnt Hills with the 17-7 victory. 

Class B: Glens Falls @ Schalmont, Schuylerville @ Hudson Falls, Johnstown @ Cobleskill-Richmondville
For about 10 minutes, it appeared as if the Indians return to Class B was going to shake up Section II.  They had a 16-6 lead against the defending Section II Class B champions, and were on a roll.  But then Schalmont showed why they are defending champions by rolling off 35 unanswered points to win 41-16.  Devon Willis is a player to watch this season, with 352 total yards in his season debut.  For Glens Falls, things get difficult as they return home to face Schuylerville.

If Shane Lyon's quote to Tim McManus of the Post-Star is any indication to his talent, the Indians may need to watch out.  He said that his game against the Hudson Falls Tigers was no indication to how good he is going to be this season, as he was rusty and will feel smoother as the season progresses.  Lyon scored three touchdowns, two via his arm and one by way of his legs on an option at the 1 yard line.  His arm was indeed rusty, going 3 for 13, but two of those three going in for touchdowns with no interceptions.  The Tigers saw momentum go their way through the Special Teams in the 2nd Quarter with a 91 yard kickoff return by Trevor Strother to tie the game, but it was the very same Special Teams that lost the momentum with a muffed punt on their own 24 yard line in the 3rd Quarter that led to a Black Horses touchdown.

Johnstown's "very family oriented" team couldn't stop Matt Davenport and Mike Green of the Cobleskill-Richmondville Bulldogs, who combined for 5 touchdowns on the way to a 49-21 victory over the Sir Bills.  If the Bulldogs maintain their intensity heading into this Saturday's game against the Tigers (1:30PM, FOX Sports Radio 1230), it will be a tough time for coach Bill Strong and the Hudson Falls defense.

Class C: Mechanicville @ Hoosick Falls, Watervliet @ Tamarac, Granville @ Corinth
If Friday night was any indication, Hoosick Falls will be a very hard team to beat after shutting out Mechanicville 43-0.  Of the other teams that could provide a potential challenge to Hoosick Falls, it would have to be Watervliet, who downed Tamarac 34-14, or perhaps Corinth, who rolled to a 26-19 victory over Granville

Class D: Greenwich @ Lake George, Canajoharie @ Warrensburg, Cambridge @ Fort Edward
A tough start for the Lake George Warriors, who saw their running back, Willy Blunt go down with an injury early in the game.  John Barnes is a player to watch for the Greenwich Witches, running up 157 yards on 10 carries, including 1 touchdown run and a 81 yard touchdown kickoff return. 

Canajoharie dropped down to Class D and was gifted with the long trip to Warrensburgh where they took advantage of 6 turnovers to win 42-20.  Malachi Prosser ran in for two touchdowns as the Warrensburg Burghers accumulated 297 rushing yards.  Shannon ran in for four touchdowns for Canajoharie, running for 192 total yards.

Cambridge took advantage of four Fort Edward turnovers as they shut out the Flying Forts 41-0.  Matt Parmenter brought the ball into the end zone three times as he ran for 114 total yards in the victory. 

In Summary:
Greenwich already looks hot to take the Class D crown.  Cambridge might make things interesting and it should be interesting on October 5th when the two teams get together in Greenwich for the Route 372 matchup.  In Class C, Hoosick Falls would love to repeat again, and there were no signs on Friday night that they will have a hard time doing so. 

In Class B, the Indians had a big chance to show why their drop-down from Class A could provide valuable to them, but it fell apart down in Schalmont.  Both Glens Falls and Hudson Falls could really use a win this Saturday, but both teams face tough matchups in Schuylerville and Cobleskill-Richmondville respectively. 

Queensbury could use the experience of facing Class AA Shaker and the momentum they gained in the 2nd half on Saturday as they travel down to Averil Park near Troy on Friday night.  A win here will throw the Spartans into the mix for the Class A crown, and a loss could put Averil Park as a frontrunner for the title.

In Class AA, Shaker will be exciting to watch with Chris Landers and Ryan Griffin controlling the offense.  But a tough matchup comes up for the Blue Bison with the Colonie Cup up for grabs. 

FOX Sports Radio 1230 High School Schedule:
Times and Dates subject to change

September 8th: Cobleskill-Richmondville @ Hudson Falls - 1:30PM
September 15th: Bishop Gibbons @ Warrensburg - 1:00PM
September 22nd: Johnstown @ Glens Falls - 1:30PM
September 29th: Salem @ Fort Edward - 1:30PM
October 5th: Whitehall @ Lake George - 7:00PM
October 13th: Amsterdam @ South Glens Falls - 1:30PM
October 20th: TO BE ANNOUNCED - Playoff Week
October 27th: TO BE ANNOUNCED - Playoff Week

The Glens Falls Post-Star
The Ledger Herald
The Albany Times Union
Personal Recollection