Friday, September 6, 2013

High School Football: Week 1 Preview

Are you ready for some local football?
It's the dawn of a new High School Football season tonight as teams across the entire North Country and Capital District meet on the gridiron, trying to emulate the success that Shaker, Burnt Hills, Glens Falls, Hoosick Falls and Rensselaer had last year. 

So how will the local teams fare?  Let's take a look:

Troy @ Queensbury - 1:30PM Saturday
Radio Coverage: 1230 FOX Sports Radio
It’s a fresh new season for both teams, and time to put the past behind them and look forward to the future.

For Queensbury, that future rests on the legs of Phil Wettersten, who was the Spartans number two rusher behind Alston Moses last year.  Now with Moses gone, Wettersten looks to be that go-to guy, churning 690 total yards for an average of 7.0 yards per carry last year.

But he won’t be the only one churning up yards of offense, as Tim Voorhis, Kalen Minott, Eric Wettersten and more gives John Irion a lot of different options behind the line.  Plus Aidan Switzer will also be available to generate offense through his arm.  Now, Queensbury is not a pass-friendly team, but can do so when needed as Switzer last year went 11 for 23 for 169 yards, including two touchdowns.

Troy, too, has a lot of experience in the backfield in the form of their primary running backs, Rayshawn Johnson and Maurice Jones. And with a experience line returning with three captains, those two could easily find the holes needed to churn up a lot of offense.

So the task for both defenses is to close those holes and to make sure that the running backs have to work extra hard to gain offense.  Both teams have the benefit of a thick roster, coupled with some veteran coaching.  Both John Irion of the Spartans and Jack Burger of the Flying Horses have a combined 36 years of coaching experience in high school football.

Class A only has 9 teams, and with a 8-team playoff system, all but one team will make it past Week 7.  But that doesn’t mean teams have nothing to play for in Class A, being able to play in front of your home crowd in Weeks 8 and 9 is better than being the road team.
Schalmont @ Glens Falls - 1:30PM SaturdayMeanwhile, the past may have been rich to the Glens Falls Indians, but they will have to move on.  With the core group that brought Glens Falls to their first sectional title since 1993 and their first ever Carrier Dome appearance now gone, the Indians will have to rely on the new talent to carry the torch.

How good that new talent will be will immediately be put up to the test when they host the Schalmont Sabres on Saturday.  The Schalmont Sabres fell to the Indians in the Class B Super Bowl, but maintain Devon Willis, who churned up a good piece of real estate last year, and is in the top 30 career rushers in Section 2 already, hoping to move up the list as the season progresses.

The Indians were very good at stopping Willis’s run attack for the most part during the Super Bowl last year, but will need new components to work together to do the same this year.  Willis’s performance may not exactly determine an outcome for the game, but it will definitely set the tone.
Hudson Falls @ Schuylerville - 7:00PM Friday
The team that the Indians beat in the semifinals to move onto the Super Bowl is hosting the Hudson Falls Tigers.  The Schuylerville Black Horses have a new look, from the head coach to the players on the field.  John Bowen takes over the duties for retired coach Greg O’Connor, and now will face a new lineup now that Shane Lyon is graduated.

Shane Lyon was a dangerous threat when holding onto the football, and what made him more of a threat was not knowing what he was going to do with the ball.  Although his passing wasn’t crisp – going 24 for 72 for a 33% completion percentage, it made defenses worry as he ran a lot of quarterback options, accumulating 1200 yards of offense to lead all rushers, nearly doubling the efforts of Dan Waldron, their second biggest rusher at 680 yards. 

Both those players are not with the team, leaving the Black Horses with underclassmen running the show.  Skyler Bateman has experience touching the ball, accumulating 105 rushing yards and crossing the endzone 3 times during his season last year.  He looks to be a bigger threat this year, and so too does Josh Thomas.

The opposite is true in Hudson Falls, where they have plenty of returning talent on both ends of the ball, including junior Geno Brancati.  Last year Brancati was responsible for 8 touchdowns, running 746 yards.  But Brancati wants more, as he told Laura Owens of the Glens Falls Post-Star that he wants to break the millennium mark this season, scoring more than 20 touchdowns.  He also wants to be Section II’s leading rusher, which will be a tough task for the junior with Devon Willis still carrying the ball over in Schalmont.

On the other side of the ball, Hudson Falls is returning back to the defense that brought the Tigers to Dietz Stadium for the State Semifinals in Kingston back in 2008, a 3-5 formation. 
Greenwich @ Cambridge - 1:00PM Saturday
Also in Week 1, it’s the battle of Route 372 as cross-highway rivals square off at Cambridge Saturday afternoons as the Greenwich Witches take on the Cambridge Indians.  Last year’s matchup turned out to be one of the best games of the year, as the Indians and Witches went to overtime before the Indians would go on to win.

The loss for Greenwich was key as it put them behind both Rensselaer and Cambridge in a division where only two teams make the playoffs.  Two things benefit Greenwich this year over last year without even playing a game – the fact that Class D has gone to a 8 team playoff system, and also the fact that Greenwich is now in Class D North, apart  from Cambridge and Rensselaer.

On the field, Josh Barnes has earned a lot of preseason attention, and with good reasons.  He was one of the top rushers in Section II last year, devouring 1480 yards of turf on his way to 17 touchdowns.  His return gives Brandon Linett some options with his Multiple-I offense.

With a return of 3 of their 5 offensive linemen, Greenwich should be a top candidate to win Class D North.
Cambridge wants to return to the Class D Sectionals, where their time last year came to a surprising end when they lost 27-26 to the Salem Generals in the semifinals at Schuylerville.  It will be tough with a younger squad, notably without Matt Parmeter, who led the team with over 1200 yards of offense. 

Even though Saturday’s cross-highway rivalry will not count towards towards playoff seeding, both teams will want to start off well, and, of course, there is that presence of wanting to be the better team. 

No comments:

Post a Comment