Tuesday, September 30, 2014

HS Football Week 4: Winners & Losers

We've crossed the halfway point and are making our way towards the end of the season now.  13 teams remain undefeated at this point in the season, however, at least two of those 13 teams will experience their first loss of the season before the weekend is done.

Let's take our weekly look at the teams that helped themselves this past week, and those who put their playoff hopes on thin ice.

Shenendehowa Plainsmen (4-0) - In a rivalry game against a good squad, the Shenendehowa Plainsmen not only beat the Saratoga Springs Blue Streaks, they stole the Streaks thunder and electrified their season, and their chances of being the #1 seed in the Empire Division.  The Plainsmen have Ballston Spa this Thursday, whose only win came against winless Albany, the Plainsmen's Week 6 opponent.  They finish the season with another one-win team that has only beaten Albany in Guilderland.

Colonie Garnet Raiders (2-2) - The Garnet Raiders dropped a 39-14 decision to previously winless LaSalle, dropping their record to 2-2.  The Garnet Raiders appeared to bounce back nicely after falling to Shenendehowa in Week 2 with their win against Columbia, but fell apart against LaSalle.  But granted, LaSalle's playing some good ball now as they narrowly lost to Bethlehem in the closing minutes last week and now this win against Colonie.

LaSalle (1-3) at Shaker (3-1) - Thursday, 7PM: As noted above, the Cadets are playing good football right now and could find themselves in the thick of the race for #2 in the Liberty Division with a win over the Blue Bison.  But the Shaker Blue Bison would like to still fight for #1, and would set up a battle for the top seed with Bethlehem next week with a win on Thursday Night.

Bishop Maginn Golden Griffins (4-0) - The Golden Griffins made the best of their yardage, spoiling Averill Park's homecoming with their 22-15 win.  Joe Grasso's squad has grown since last year's, already exceeding the number of wins the 2012 and 2013 squads had combined.  They've survived one of their three key tests, next up is Troy.

South Glens Falls Bulldogs (1-3) - The South Glens Falls Bulldogs have a monkey off their back, winning their first game in 20 tries and ending their 19 game losing streak, which thanks to Newfield winning on Thursday night, was the longest active streak in New York State.  With that said, the winning streak is likely to cease at one game with Burnt Hills this week and Queensbury next week, but it's good not to see South Glens Falls on the list of active losing streaks.

Scotia Tartans (2-2) - The Scotia Tartans make this list not because of what the loss to Queensbury means for their season, but for how the Tartans came up empty after closing the gap to three points with eight minutes to play in the second quarter.  Two quick touchdowns late in the quarter, including Brett Rodriguez's option pass to Erik Wettersten in the final play of the half, gave the Spartans a commanding 33-17 lead, and the Tartans had no answers for it.  The Tartans are still good to make the playoffs with wins over South Glens Falls and Gloversville with only Green Tech left to play, giving them a good shot at the Northwest's #3 seed.

Bishop Maginn (4-0) at Troy (3-1) - Friday, 7PM: Two obstacles are keeping the Bishop Maginn Golden Griffins from the Southeast Division's #1 seed, one of them being Troy.  The Troy Flying Horses haven't dazzled in their two wins, doing enough to get by Averill Park and Mohonasen.  The winner here should be guaranteed a home date come Week 8.

Schalmont Sabres (4-0) - The Schalmont Sabres made a statement to the rest of the state that they are arguably the best Class B team in Eastern New York with their win over the Class A Burnt Hills Spartans.  The Spartans made it a contest late by scoring 21 points unanswered after falling behind 34-7, but in the end, the Sabres were able to make the defensive stop they needed to preserve the victory to set up a battle of the unbeaten in the Reinfurt Division this Friday.

Johnstown Sir Bills (3-1) - The Johnstown Sir Bills have gone 5-36 in the last five years, with four of those five wins coming from last year's squad that went 4-5.  The last time Johnstown saw a winning record was in 1995, when they finished 7-2.  And they haven't seen the playoffs since 2003, when they were knocked off in the first round by Ravena.  But all of that could be coming to an end as the Sir Bills are now two wins away from a winning record, and potentially one win away from scoring a playoff berth.  It won't be easy the next two weeks, with Broadalbin-Perth waiting this week and next week hosting Ravena.

Cobleskill-Richmondville Bulldogs (1-3) - The Bulldogs needed a win badly last Friday against Johnstown and failed to produce, and now finds their playoff hopes hanging on by a thinning thread that needs a bunch of outside help in order to not be trimmed.  In order to make sectionals, the Bulldogs will need to win the rest of the way, plus have Glens Falls and Broadalbin-Perth lose the rest of their conference games, which would tie Cobleskill with Broadalbin-Perth in the standings, but would advance on the head-to-head over Broadalbin-Perth as the two teams meet in Week 6.

Ravena (4-0) at Schalmont (4-0) - Friday, 7PM: Even before the season began, people had this date circled on the calendar.  Ravena has met up with Schalmont in each of the last four postseasons, with Schalmont winning all four of them.  Add the 13-12 non-conference win in 2009, and that makes five straight wins for the Sabres over Ravena.  But now these two teams face each other in the same division, and first place is on the line.

Johnstown (3-1) at Broadalbin-Perth (2-2) - Friday, 7PM: Broadalbin-Perth has played two difficult opponents in Schuylerville and Hoosick Falls, but won't get a breather here as Johnstown comes to town with a chance to snatch away a potential #2 seed.  As noted above, a win for Johnstown could push them into sectionals for the first time in 11 years, and put them 1 win away from their first winning season in 19 years.

Hudson Falls (2-2) at Glens Falls (2-2) - Friday, 7PM: The Jug Game between these two teams is accelerated by both teams needing a win to help their playoff chances, which that need could be emphasized even more if Broadalbin-Perth beats Johnstown, resulting in three teams sitting at two divisional wins.  Hudson Falls needs it more, having already yielded a game to Johnstown, but Glens Falls still has to face Schuylerville.

Fonda-Fultonville Braves (3-1): The Fonda-Fultonville Braves made a big statement and basically ensured that Week 6's game against the Coxsackie-Athens Indians will determine the Southern Division title with their 56-6 win over Chatham.  The lone loss for the Braves was in Week 1, when they lost to Westhill at the Carrier Dome in a hard-fought effort.

Coxsackie-Athens Indians (4-0): Let's face it, the Indians are gelling on both offense and defense, outscoring their opponents 114-6 during the four weeks of the season.  The Indians have never trailed, and never had to hit the panic button yet.  They still have two challenges ahead, with Greenwich this week and Fonda next week, but it's almost safe to say Coxsackie-Athens will be among the eight teams playing a Sectional Quarterfinal game come Week 8.

Corinth Tomahawks (3-1): The Greenwich Witches had started 3-0, but have done so against the likes of Granville, Stillwater and Lake George, a combined 0-9 entering Week 4.  Corinth trailed early, but got it back and rolled away to the 37-14 victory, setting up a battle for first place in the North Division with the Hoosick Falls Panthers this Friday.

Chatham Panthers (2-2): It seems odd to put the Chatham Panthers on this list, but Saturday's blowout loss to the Braves now has their twelve straight season Sectional appearance streak in jeopardy.  The Panthers have two winnable divisional games on their schedule, but need help from Fonda and Coxsackie's foes in order to save themselves from the Wild Card microscope for the final two berths.

Corinth (3-1) at Hoosick Falls (4-0) - Friday, 7PM: Corinth has an extra day of rest after the referee issue forced the delay of the Broadalbin-Perth/Hoosick Falls game, and will need a strong offensive effort to put an end to the Panthers streak.  This is the last divisional game for the Tomahawks, whereas the Hoosick Falls Panthers wrap up their season against Greenwich and Granville.  Corinth can clinch the top spot in the Northern Division with the win.

Coxsackie-Athens (4-0) at Greenwich (3-1) - Friday, 7PM: It doesn't get any easier for the Witches, who now has to face a team that has yielded all of six points during the first four weeks of the season.  The turnover bug bit Greenwich last Friday at Corinth, and will need to control their mistakes against a team that has been exploiting them all season long.

Hoosic Valley Indians (4-0): The Hoosic Valley Indians look like this will be the last year they play as a Class C squad playing down in competition.  This wasn't as easy as their Week 2 win over Fort Edward, but the Indians clawed their way to victory over Canajoharie for their first 4-0 start in program history.  The Indians have never made the playoffs, and won't again this year, but it's safe to say that the Indians will become a team to watch under Coach Porcelli.

Rensselaer Rams (2-2): It's hard to pick a loser in a seven team division, especially in a week when the teams who should win do, and those who you figure will lose do as well.  This week the losers are the Rensselaer Rams, but only because injuries forced the Rams to pull out of their scheduled contest against Sullivan West down at Dietz Stadium.

ALL OF THEM - Seriously.  All three games that are on the schedule for Class D this week are must-watch games, each for their own special reason.  So let's look at each of them.

Cambridge/Salem Indians (4-0) at Whitehall Railroaders (4-0) - Saturday, 1PM: The Whitehall Railroaders average just short of 50 points per game, topping the Warrensburg Burghers 42-14 in their latest win.  The Railroaders are going to be tried the rest of the way, with no bigger of a challenge coming by the way of the Cambridge/Salem Indians this Saturday.  The Cambridge/Salem Indians only needed a couple of plays before jumping out to the early lead against the Flying Forts, winning easily 54-0.  The Indians have allowed 12 points all season.  The winner of this game has the upper path to the Class D's #1 seed, and for Whitehall, a win makes the last two divisional games against Hoosic Valley and Rensselaer a little less stressful.

Rensselaer Rams (2-2) at Hoosic Valley Indians (4-0) - Saturday, 1PM: Like with Whitehall, Hoosic Valley's challenge begins with three straight games against the other top teams of Class D.  Rensselaer had a week off to recover from nagging injuries, and needs a win to help stay alive in the playoff chase.  Hoosic Valley has a chance to prove themselves here.

Canajoharie Cougars (1-3) at Fort Edward/Argyle Flying Forts (0-4) - Saturday, 1PM: Fort Edward is done with the top teams of Class D, and now might have a chance to pick up their first win as a combined program.  And they're going to need to if they want to remain in the playoff chase.  Canajoharie can potentially set things up so that Week 7's game between Fort Edward and Warrensburg is just for team pride, as a win will clinch the Cougars a playoff spot and eliminate both Fort Edward and Warrensburg.

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