Wednesday, September 25, 2013

High School Sports: Week 3 Recap: What have we learned?

Three weeks down, four to go in the regular season of the High School Football season.

So what have we learned?

We’ve learned that although some things have changed, some things have remained the same.  New faces in new places haven’t brought an end to old success. A lot of the same teams we had our eyes on last year are still in the top spots this year.

Ultimately … what we’ve learned is that this could be another exciting year for Section 2.  More after the jump.

Top Dogs: EMPIRE – Guilderland (3-0), Shenendehowa (3-0), Saratoga Springs (3-0); LIBERTY – Shaker (3-0)
Bottom Feeders: EMPIRE – Albany (0-3), Ballston Spa (0-3), Bethlehem (0-3); LIBERTYNiskayuna (0-3)

Surprise Team: Saratoga Springs (3-0) – The Saratoga Springs Blue Streaks last year was a middle-of-the-road team last year when they missed the playoffs.  What the Blue Streaks have going for them is good returning talent, like Dakota Harvey, who has picked up 185 yards rushing and another 56 yards receiving.  His yards-per-carry has diminished since the Albany game, but still sits at a healthy 7 yards per carry.  Quarterback Jake Eglintine was one yard shy of the century mark in passing last Friday.  The Blue Streaks were tested by Colonie, and came away 38-22 winners, but the real test for Terry Jones’s team will come in Weeks 6 and 7 when they face fellow league leaders Shenendehowa and Guilderland.

Unfortunate team: Schenectady (1-2) – Some argued that the Schenectady Patriots should have been the team heading to the Super Bowl (or at least overtime) after it appeared that their quarterback gained entry to the end zone, but a ruling by the officials brought the Patriots season to an end and gave the Shaker Blue Bison a ticket to Shenendehowa.  In three games the Patriots have allowed 45 more points than they have scored, and their lone win is against a 0-3 team.  Halfback Felix Rodriguez got stopped by the LaSalle Cadets, picking up only 31 yards on 14 carries.  Granted he picked up 109 yards through 8 catches, but his 2.2 yards per carry in the LaSalle game did not help open the playbook for Quarterback Brandon Gwinner. After a Schenectady County battle this Friday against Niskayuna, the Patriots have to face Colonie and Shaker, with the latter of the two being in Latham. It would be a strange turnaround for a team that was a yard away from forcing overtime in the Class AA Semifinals to see them miss the playoffs.

Analysis: Some things never change, with the Shenendehowa Plainsmen and the Shaker Blue Bison both shaping up for good seasons.  Saratoga Springs has improved over last year, and Guilderland has also shown that they belong amongst the discussion of playoff teams in Class AA.  Albany is still cold against Class AA, with their lone win in the last few years being last October against Class A’s South Glens Falls

Game to Watch: Shaker (3-0) @ Guilderland (3-0), FRI 7PM – No Ryan Griffin?  No problem.  The Shaker Blue Bison remain a top threat in Class AA thanks to a swarming defense that has held opponents to a grand total of 15 points.  And all 15 points were from their first opponent, LaSalle.  It might be harder to keep the Dutchmen of Guilderland off the board, especially with Frank Gallo running control under center.  The senior has thrown for over 800 yards – nearly 200 more yards than the nearest quarterback in Section 2.  Whatever line controls better will gain the greater advantage here, and although it may be a tough battle for those in the trenches, those in the bleachers will enjoy this game.

Top Dogs: NORTHWEST – Queensbury (3-0), Burnt Hills (3-0); SOUTHEAST - Averill Park (2-1)
Bottom Feeders: NORTHWEST – South Glens Falls (0-3); SOUTHEAST – Mohonasen (0-3)

Surprise Team: Queensbury (3-0) – The Queensbury Spartans have a lot of options in the backfield, and that gives defenses a headache when trying to figure out who to cover.  And the defense has been swarming towards opposing runners, keeping them off the board.  The Spartans have kept teams off the board since the final quarter of the game against Troy, and the fact that they were able to keep Maurice Jones and Rayshawn Johnson from running circles around the defense helps make them one of the teams to watch out for in Class A.  But tests are coming for Queensbury, both this weekend and next.

Unfortunate Team: Mohonasen (0-3) – Mohonasen gets the edge here because through three games, they have yet to play a close tight game.  That could change when they host the South Glens Falls Bulldogs in a battle of two 0-3 teams that could go a long ways to determining who scoops the final playoff spot for the Class A Sectionals.

Analysis: It was great to see Jack Burger finally get a win last week against Amsterdam, as it gives the Troy Flying Horses some much-needed confidence before starting their conference schedule this week.  We knew that the Queensbury Spartans would prove to be a playoff-worthy team, but they have looked great against their three opponents this year.  It hasn’t been pretty, but Burnt Hills keeps finding ways to win in defense of their 2012 Class A State Championship.  The bottom of Class A is resided by South Glens Falls and Mohonasen, with both facing each other as mentioned above for possibly the right to be the 8th team in the playoffs in this 9 team league.

Game to Watch – Burnt Hills (3-0) @ Queensbury (3-0), SAT 1:30P – The battle of the Spartans is not just a battle of like monikers, it could come down to determining who takes the top seed in Class A Northwest.  Queensbury will be in a strong position to take a home-field seed for their Week 8 Sectional game. Class A’s number one team in the state comes in after a 2nd half onslaught against Gloversville, thanks to Josh Quesada, whose 330 yards of rushing has given defenses a problem.  His lone touchdown against the Troy Flying Horses was the 20 yard touchdown run to end a four-overtime thriller two weeks ago.  Queensbury has shut out their last two opponents, and has three players with three touchdowns, including Christopher Goudy, who scored all three of his scores against the Bulldogs last week while running for 66 yards.

Top Dogs:
WEST – Schalmont (3-0), Broadalbin-Perth (3-0); REINFURT – Albany Academy (2-1), Cohoes (2-1), Green Tech (2-1), Ravena (2-1)
Bottom Feeders: WEST – Hudson Falls (0-3), Johnstown (0-3); REINFURT – Ichabod Crane (0-3)

Surprise Team: Green Tech (2-1) – Last year Green Tech went 0-8 as a Class A school playing in Class B.  After going 0-8, the Eagles were finally recognized by the NYSPHSAA as a Class B team, and therefore playoff eligible.  And through three games, they have made it matter, especially in week 1 when they defeated last year’s Reinfurt 3-seed Albany Academy 32-26.  Although they had a setback in Week 2 against Lansingburgh, they bounced back with a 42-6 victory over Class A’s Mohonasen.  Najee Ward has been one of the key players for Green Tech, scoring 5 touchdowns and compiling over 250 yards of rushing offense for the Eagles.  Tyriek McGraw has also been a contributing player for the Eagles, spinning his way to a touchdown in the 2nd Quarter against Mohonasen.  Weeks 5 and 7 will be key games for Green Tech, when they face Cohoes and Ravena.  The Saturday, October 19th game at Green Tech could be for the top seed in the Reinfurt.

Unfortunate Team: Hudson Falls (0-3) – The Tigers are 0-3 to start the 2013 season, and still having to face Glens Falls and Schalmont in Weeks 6 and 7.  That makes these next two weeks critical as they need to find some offense against Scotia and Johnstown, as 7 points per game will not get the job done against Indians or Sabres.  Geno Brancati has had a tough time getting the run game going for the Tigers.

Game to Watch – Schalmont (3-0) @ Broadalbin-Perth (3-0), FRI 7PM – The Patriots were last year’s West #3 seed, and show a strong chance to return to the playoffs again this year.  But if they want to establish themselves as a potential top seed, they’ll need to do what no other team has done yet this season and stop the Schalmont Sabres.  Devon Willis was not in his last game, sitting on the sidelines after going to the hospital during his game against Scotia two weeks ago.  But that didn’t stop the Sabres from scoring 34 unanswered points against Schuylerville last week, as Nick Gallo chipped in with 101 yards rushing on 9 carries.  Luigi Magliocca will be a player to watch for the Patriots, scoring 2 touchdowns against Johnstown and rushing for 75 yards against the Hudson Falls Tigers last week.

Analysis: Schalmont does what they do best.  That’s win.  With wins over Schuylerville and Glens Falls already under their belts, they stand a good shot of repeating of Class B West champions.  That is, unless, the Broadalbin-Perth Patriots can stop them this week.  Glens Falls has bounced back nicely from their early loss to Schalmont, but will be tested again come Week 5 when they host Broadalbin-Perth.  It’s been an unfortunate season for Hudson Falls and Johnstown, the former of the two with returning talent and the latter of the two on the state’s longest losing streak.  Lansingburgh had a tough schedule with games against Burnt Hills, Green Tech and Cohoes, and could finally get their season under control with games against Ichabod Crane and Hudson in the next two weeks. 

Top Dogs: NORTH - Hoosick Falls (3-0); SOUTH – Chatham (3-0), Fonda (3-0)
Bottom Feeders: NORTH – Catholic Central (0-3), Tamarac (0-3); SOUTH – Cairo-Durham (0-3), Taconic Hills (0-3)

Surprise Team: Voorheesville (2-1) – The Blackbirds won a barnburner against Watervliet on the leg of Mickey Knight, whose field goal with 9 seconds left helped the Blackbirds eclipse their 2012 win tally with a 39-36 victory.  Matt Feller has been a pest for defenders this year, rushing over 300 yards for three touchdowns.  With a game against Fonda already in the books, Voorheesville must now survive a challenge from Chatham this week.  With three losing records after that to wrap up the 2013 season, the Blackbirds could find themselves in the 8-team hunt for the Class C Super Bowl.

Unfortunate Team: Taconic Hills (0-3) – Taconic Hills earns the award for “Unfortunate Team” because of their schedule.  Being in the South division, the Titans, like all the other divisional teams, have to put up with both Chatham and Fonda. But if that wasn’t tough enough, Taconic Hills is the only southern team to have to face Hoosick Falls in the regular season.  Ouch.

Analysis: It’s the same ol’ in Class C, as Hoosick Falls continues to roll, continuing an amazing 43 game Section 2 win streak. Chatham continues to roll themselves, shaping up what could be another Panthers/Panthers matchup in the Super Bowl. Mechanicville and Stillwater could be playing for a home-field seed when the two close rivals meet in Week 7.

Game to Watch – Voorheesville (2-1) @ Chatham (3-0), SAT 7PM – As mentioned above, the Blackbirds have already matched their win total from last year and could pass it with a victory in one of their next 5 games.  But a strong chance to place the Blackbirds within consideration of teams to watch in Class C comes this Saturday when they face Chatham. The Chatham Panthers last year rolled through Class C South and remained undefeated before running into the roadblock otherwise known as the Hoosick Falls Panthers in the Class C Super Bowl.  Many are saying that the Chatham Panthers stand a strong chance of returning to the Super Bowl, and this weekend’s game could help to determine their chances.

Top Dogs: NORTH – Greenwich (2-1), Salem (2-1), Whitehall (2-1); SOUTH – Cambridge (3-0), Rensselaer (3-0)
Bottom Feeders: NORTH – Fort Edward (0-3), Warrensburg (0-3); SOUTH – Hoosic Valley (0-3), Bishop Gibbons/Spa Catholic (0-3)

Surprise Team: Salem (2-1) – Off last year’s Super Bowl appearance against the Rensselaer Rams, the Salem Generals looked like a team hungry to return to the big game.  But a week one forfeit brought fears of a rough season due to low numbers.  Isaac Isom helped alleviate these fears two weeks ago with over 200 yards rushing against Hoosic Valley, and Ryan Braymer showed that the Generals can throw too with his 90+ yard passing game against Warrensburg.  The Generals are not a surprise team because of their 2-1 record.  They’re a surprise team because of the way they’re winning, especially with their 53-0 rout of the Warrensburg Burghers.  Their explosive offense will be tested this Saturday against Greenwich.

Unfortunate Team: Warrensburg (0-3) – In the first game of the season, the Burghers were poised to start the season off right, pushing Canajoharie to overtime before falling 20-14.  After that game, the Burghers have come up empty against Cambridge and Salem, getting outscored 99-0 in those two games.  Warrensburg can still bounce back, as they have Fort Edward and Lake George coming up on the schedule, but could find themselves in a dogfight against Greenwich in a week where playoff positioning could be key.

Analysis: Two extra teams per division getting into the Class D playoffs don’t mean the games are any less tense.  Salem has bounced back after taking a forfeit in Week 1, but Fort Edward hasn’t seen similar fate.  Lake George could be hit with the same injury bug that bit them last year after a couple players had to check out of their game against Greenwich.  Meanwhile, Rensselaer is looking very good in the South, and unless the Cambridge Indians can slow them down, the Rams are looking like a team who could be playing in November.

Game to Watch – Greenwich (2-1) @ Salem (2-1), SAT 1PM – After explosive victories last week, both teams head into this televised match with a chance to settle who will be the early favorite to win D’s top seed in the North Division.  The game will come down to who stops the opposing team’s running back.  John Barnes has found the end zone 12 times this season, compared to Isom’s 9.  Barnes has run for nearly 550 yards in his three games, whereas in two games, Isom has 360 yards.  But both teams aren’t restricted to their run game, as Lucas Whitehouse and Ryan Braymer have both shown they can throw for their respective teams.  Whitehouse has thrown for over 300 yards in his three games, and Braymer threw for 94 yards in his game against the Burghers.

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