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.
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
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The Albany Times Union