Friday, November 7, 2014

High School Football Sectional Championship Weekend

Whew.  Been a busy week with a lot of side projects that has kept me away from updating this blog.  First, what a game for Scotia against the Queensbury Spartans.  Playing inspired football, as Pete Tobey stated, the Tartans gave a deadly scare for the Spartans before Brett Rodriguez suited up, and pushed the blue and gold into the sectional championship.

The Sectional Championship gets under way this evening with two games, with the other three games to be played tomorrow.

FOX Sports Radio 1230 will be at the Class A Sectional Championship tomorrow evening as the Queensbury Spartans take on the Burnt Hills Spartans, with coverage beginning at 6:45 p.m. live from Shenendehowa High School.

So let's take a look at the five sectional championships, starting with the two to be played tonight

The Section 2 Class AA Championship
E1-Shenendehowa Plainsmen (9-0) vs. E2-CBA Brothers (8-1)
7 p.m. Friday, November 7th, 2014 at Bob Ford Field (University of Albany)

Sectional Championships: Shenendehowa - 11; CBA - 3
Last Championship: Shenendehowa - 2011; CBA - 2013

Sectional Championship Meetings: 1 - 1982 (Shenendehowa won 44-21)

Last Meeting: This year, Week 3 - Shenendehowa won 28-14.

Notes: Shenendehowa has been on a roll all season long, using the play of star quarterback Ryan Van Galen to help lead them to a 9-0 record and a return to the championship after a one year absence. 

CBA's game in Week 3, however, was the tightest match that Shenendehowa has played all year.  CBA ties Guilderland for the most points scored against the Plainsmen (14), and was the only team to hold Shen to under 30 points.  In that game, Van Galen had only 70 yards passing, well below the 173 yards per game average he has through 9 games. 

CBA will need to be a little better prepared for the big play, as two 60+ yard touchdowns were scored against the Brothers in that regular season game.  Jaylen McIntyre is one of 15 backs in Section 2 to have run for over 1,000 yards through nine games, but did not have a memorable game against the Plainsmen as he only accumulated 37 yards on 6 carries.

Prediction: A balanced attack could be beneficial to the Plainsmen, with effective uses of Ryan Van Galen and running back Matt Taft.  They're not going to take the Brothers lightly, knowing that the Week 3 game was tight and very well could have gone the other way.  If CBA can get started quickly, they could score the upset and win themselves their second straight championship.  However, Shenendehowa has the weapons, and I see those weapons leading them to victory.  Shenendehowa wins 35-21.

The Section 2 Class C Championship
1-Hoosick Falls Panthers (9-0) vs. 2-Fonda-Fultonville Braves (8-1)
7 p.m. Friday, November 7th, 2014 at Stillwater High School

Sectional Championships: Hoosick Falls - 8; Fonda-Fultonville - 4
Last Championship: Hoosick Falls - 2013; Fonda-Fultonville - 1999

Sectional Championship Meetings: 2 - 2011 (Hoosick Falls won 32-7); 1980 (Fonda won 21-6)

Last Meeting: 2013, Week 9 - Hoosick Falls won 36-0

Notes: Hoosick Falls is seeking an unprecedented sixth straight Sectional Championship, a mark that has been attempted two other times in Section 2.  In 2001, Troy's stretch of five straight titles came to an end with Bethlehem's win in the title game, and last year Burnt Hills saw their stretch end with Queensbury's title.

Fonda is 0 for 5 against Hoosick Falls since 2004, last coming up empty in the semifinals at Stillwater last year.  Fonda's a better team this year, only losing to Section 3's Westhill at the Carrier Dome.  The Braves have seen solid play all season by Pat Hart and Anthony Sinicropi, but has been vulnerable by the two other North Division playoff representatives this season, barely winning against the Corinth Tomahawks 34-33 in Week 7 and needing a comeback to beat Greenwich 27-20 in Week 8.  Sinicropi is a versatile quarterback, with over a thousand yards passing and over 800 yards on the ground.  So he's going to be tricky for the Panthers defense, and the Braves could exploit that with some fakes.

Hoosick Falls is the lone Section 2 representative to score a victory at the Carrier Dome in Week 1, beating Owego Free Academy 48-21 despite giving Owego plenty of gifts in the first half.  The Panthers defense has been tough on opposing offenses all season, holding all but one of their Class C opponents to 10 points or less, with the lone exception being Corinth, scoring 14 in last week's 45-14 semifinal.  Colby Davendonis and Austin Pitt have been the main stars of the Panthers offense, accounting for over 1,500 rushing yards through the season.  Garrett Wright provides the Panthers with flexibility with his throwing arm.

Prediction: Fonda will give the Panthers a challenge.  But the defense for the Panthers are really strong, and Fonda has shown weakness against the North.  The Braves need a strong game by Hart and Sinicropi,  But in the end, the Panthers will do what no other Section 2 team has ever done - win 6 straight titles.  Hoosick Falls wins 28-22.

The Section 2 Class D Championship
1-Whitehall Railroaders (7-2) vs. 2-Cambridge Indians (8-1)
1 p.m. Saturday, November 8th, 2014 at Schuylerville High School

Sectional Championships: Whitehall - 2; Cambridge - 13
Last Championship: Whitehall - 1989; Cambridge - 2013

Sectional Championship Meetings: None

Last Meeting: This year, Week 5 - Whitehall won 21-19

Notes: It was an uncharacteristic day for the Cambridge Indians in that first meeting as the rain presented a problems for the Indians all day.  6 turnovers, four of them on the ground, and a couple of them deep in Whitehall territory, coupled with Ethan English having a game to forget, helped lead the Whitehall Railroaders to victory and pushed them to the #1 seed in the tournament.

Whitehall bounced back from their Week 7 drama and Week 8 last-second loss with a statement game against the Canajoharie Cougars in the Semifinal, winning 40-6 where Justin Hoagland ran for three touchdowns and passed for a fourth in the victory.  The Railroaders are going to need to have him at the top of his game against the Indians.

Cambridge has been on record as saying their game against Whitehall was a "wake up call", and showed it with a career performance from Ethan English the following week against Warrensburg where he went 9-for-9 and threw for over 200 yards, scoring 4 touchdowns in the Indians 49-14 win over the Burghers.  In fact, since that game against Whitehall, English has completed 31 of his 35 passes, an 88% completion percentage.  English's success is thanks to supporting players like Chris Warnke and Caleb Rowland, who are threats on the field both as rushers and receivers.  

Prediction: If you're expecting the same kind of match we had on October 4th, you're going to be disappointed.  The weather will play less of an impact, and what we're going to see are two teams fighting hard for the championship.  Credit the Railroaders, they have played wonderfully despite the distractions all around them, but the Cambridge Indians are playing the best that they have played all season.  And those teams are the ones you find holding trophies at the end.  Cambridge wins 36-24.

The Section 2 Class B Championship
R1-Schalmont Sabres (9-0) vs. W1-Schuylerville Black Horses (9-0)
3 p.m. Saturday, November 8th, 2014 at Shenendehowa High School

Sectional Championships: Schalmont - 4; Schuylerville - 2
Last Championship: Schalmont - 2013; Schuylerville - 2005

Sectional Championship Meetings: None

Last Meeting: 2013, Week 3 - Schalmont won 34-6

Notes: Schuylerville has yet to beat the Sabres since moving up to Class B, and may have a hard time figuring out how to stop Schalmont's 1-2 punch of Hunter Gac and Nick Gallo.  Schalmont has played like a team determined to return to the Carrier Dome all year, decimating opponents left and right on their way to a 9-0 record.

John Bowen has done a great job with the Schuylerville Black Horses, returning them to the Super Bowl for the first time since they were in the Class C title game against Watervliet in 2008.  Will Griffen has amassed 1,078 rushing yards, earning 16 touchdowns, while going to the air for another 5.  Josh Thomas is another 1,000 yard rusher, accounting for another 14 touchdowns. 

Nick Gallo has been unbelievable for the Sabres.  707 yards on the ground and 19 touchdowns is a decent resume, but when you add his 850 yards and 9 touchdowns passing, it makes him a dangerous threat anytime he possesses the ball.  

Prediction: The only time Schalmont has had to sweat out a victory all season was when they faced the Burnt Hills Spartans, winning 34-28 in a game where the Spartans scored 21 straight points to make a game out of what was once 34-7 in the third quarter.  Otherwise, the Sabres have looked untouchable all season.  The Schuylerville Black Horses will give the Sabres a fight, and keep in mind in 2012 the Sabres were the heavy favorite to win, but Glens Falls put an end to that.  But in this case, I don't see the Sabres folding, winning their 5th title in 6 years.  Schalmont wins 44-21.

The Section 2 Class A Championship
NW1-Queensbury Spartans (9-0) vs. NW2-Burnt Hills Spartans (7-2)
7 p.m. Saturday, November 8th, 2014 at Shenendehowa High School

Sectional Championships: Queensbury - 3; Burnt Hills - 6
Last Championship: Queensbury - 2013; Burnt Hills - 2012

Sectional Championship Meetings: 1 - 2013 (Queensbury won 14-7)

Last Meeting: This year, Week 7 - Queensbury won 42-0

Notes: The Queensbury Spartans had a few miscues, but held strong on defense in their 42-0 statement win over the Burnt Hills Spartans three weeks ago, but must be mindful that they might not have as easy of a time this time.

Especially after having to come from behind last Saturday against the Scotia Tartans in a game where Brett Rodriguez suited up and was seen warming up on the sidelines after the Tartans punched it in to gain the 20-14 lead.  The Tartans had the Queensbury run game figured out through the third quarter, and Brett Rodriguez's appearance sparked the comeback that the Spartans needed to pull away with the 35-20 win.  

And Burnt Hills is the type of team that learns from its mistakes.  John Clayton had a rough time against the Queensbury defense, misfiring on some of his throws, and watching as his receivers dropped some more, to leave him with a 5-for-18 game, throwing for only 66 yards.  

Danny Maynard will be back in the lineup for Burnt Hills after missing last week due to baseball recruiting camp, having already received offers to play at Notre Dame.  He left in the third quarter in the first meeting with an ankle injury, leaving him with only 13 yards in the whole game.

Burnt Hills will need to get better momentum on offense, and will need to stop the Queensbury rush game on defense.  If they can do both, and get a solid effort from John Clayton, this game will be much closer than what we saw three weeks ago.

Prediction: Queensbury has the weapons to move the ball, and the major question is whether or not Brett Rodriguez is going to be healthy to play all four quarters.  This may be a game where starter agility comes into play, and could very well end the way that last year's Super Bowl ended, with a game-winning drive coming late in the fourth quarter.  But, Burnt Hills is the team with a lot more to prove in the opening 12 minutes.  How that first twelve minutes play out could very well determine who will win the remaining 36 minutes and get to spend next Friday night travelling up to Potsdam.  Queensbury wins 35-24.

Regardless of who you root for, let's have a great weekend of football as we bring the Sectional Tournament to a close, and look forward to five well-deserved winners who will be playing in the State Tournament.

Good luck to all teams!

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