LaSalle Looking To Derail Unbeaten Shenendehowa in Class AA Semifinals
As expected, there are several key matchups as the Section II football tournament continues with semifinals on Friday night. In Class AA, unbeaten Shenendehowa will entertain LaSalle while CBA of Albany travels to Columbia.
"CBA is a very good team. Coach (Joe) Burke has done a great job over there. The kids play hard and have a lot of team speed. On our end, we need to continue to play hard and minimize the mistakes," said Columbia coach Craig Cavotta.
CBA (7-1) knocked off Schenectady, 40-0, in quarterfinal play. CBA coach Burke is very impressed with the Blue Devils.
"Columbia is very big and physical and they dominated the Liberty Division. They've won big and won some close ones, therefore prepared for all scenarios. We will need to stop the run. (Christopher) Smith has been spectacular all year 1,400 yards and 18 touchdowns. No one has had an answer for him. He has great balance, strength, deceptive speed. Quarterback (John) Stanley is talented and has a lot of yards as well. He's very dangerous and mix in their size and we will have our hands full. Their defense is very good as well," said Burke.
Smith has compiled 19 touchdowns and Stanley is also well aware of the end zone with eight scores. Columbia lost its first game against Shaker, 32-28, and won ever since.
Cameron Wynn is the pace-setter for the Brothers with 13 touchdowns and Cody Zappone has 10.
"Our kids have put together two very complete performances in a row against two quality opponents. Defense has caused eight turnovers and eight fourth down stops in the last two weeks. We have paid a great deal of attention to our assignments on defense. We will need to be able to run inside and out and mix in the pass. We must keep them (Columbia) off balance in order to advance. We have to continue to protect the football. We've done a great job all year. The special teams have been solid, only one big play and field changing plays," said Burke.
What could possibly be a high-scoring contest takes place at Clifton Park.
Shenendehowa enters the game with an 8-0 record after beating Shaker, 35-7. LaSalle is 5-3 and also racking up the points.
Senior back Tony Fusco has put together 20 touchdowns and his running mate Marcelino Christie is a big contributor with seven. Corey Acker's foot is also instrumental adding 30 PAT's and a field goal.
"This is the sixth time LaSalle has played Shen and we are 3-3 with them. We are not matched up very well physically, but we do have some speed and the highest scoring offense in Section 2 this year. We have not played real well on defense. We have returned seven kickoffs for TD's this year. We have never been real good at that either," said LaSalle head coach Al Rapp.
LaSalle has Kevin Koberger highlighting the offense with 13 scores, Gabe Smith has 10 touchdowns and Marc Carroll nine touchdowns. In the kicking game, Mitch Connolly has 38 PAT's and four field goals.
"Our qb Garrett Delory has thrown for 18 TDs and is 70 per cent on completions. We have good receivers in Gabe Smith, Kevin Koberger, Marc Carroll and Josh Landy. We are hoping our offense can answer when they have to. We will see how it goes from there. The (Tony) Fusco kid is the real deal and we have to slow him down," said Rapp.
The Class A semifinals feature two huge games as Burnt Hills goes to unbeaten Troy and Queensbury visits Amsterdam again.
"We are excited for the opportunity to host such a big game versus a quality opponent in Burnt Hills. They are an excellent team and very well-coached. I think both teams match up well, very solid offenses and both have very strong stingy defenses. The game could be decided by one or two big plays late in the game. We need to stay on par with our offense by protecting the football," said Troy head coach Jack Burger.
Troy has an 8-0 record and outscoring its opponents, 286-31. Daquan Holmes leads the Flying Horses with 11 touchdowns, Raheem Felder has eight and Maurice Green six.
Burnt Hills is looking for its sixth straight Super Bowl appearance and obviously has to get by a talented Flying Horses squad.
"They're (Troy) a great defensive team, very physical on both sides of the ball. They're very athletic and it's going to be a good challenge. We have to keep the field position. We've been able to throw and run. Our defense has played very well," said Burnt Hills head coach Matt Shell.
Thomas Ruppel is Burnt Hills' top scorer with 11 touchdowns. The Spartans only loss came to Amsterdam, 23-7.
"Last Friday (beat Mohonasen 47-6) I thought we played a complete game. The improvement has been there. Troy is very well coached. You have to be ready and be physical and play at a high level," said Shell.
Amsterdam is coming off a big 54-12 win over Lansingburgh where quarterback Vinny Sobkowich tossed six touchdown passes.
Brett Stanavich leads the Rugged Rams with nine touchdowns, Sobkowich has seven while kicker Tyler Rouse is a potent weapon with 32 PAT's and three field goals.
The first time around, Amsterdam beat Queensbury, 29-7 on opening night.
"We are looking forward to having another shot. Hopefully, we can be relatively error-free because Amsterdam is very good at taking advantage of other team's mistakes. Both teams seem inproved so it should be a good game," said Queensbury head coach John Irion.
The Spartans, which boast a strong running game, will have Nic Ketter and Evan Earle as the starting wingbacks, Nate Myers at fullback and Mike Hewitt at quarterback.
Ketter has reached the end zone 14 times.
In Class B, unbeaten Schalmont (8-0) will entertain Ravena (6-2) while Cobleskill-Richmondville (5-3) invades Albany Academy (6-2).
Alex Hildebrand stars for Schalmont with 17 touchdowns and teammate Devon Willis is right behind scoring 15 times. Quarterback Niko Nicoletti runs the offense.
"Ravena is very well-coached and will be well-prepared. It is going to be a classic defensive battle for both sides. Both of our defenses don't give up a lot of points and are very physical. They (Ravena) send a lot of pressure on defense which makes it tough to score on them," said Schalmont head coach Joe Whipple.
Carmen Grecco is Ravena's top offensive player with 11 touchdowns.
"Ravena is very big upfront and physical which possess a concern for any team. On the offensive side of the ball, they find ways to get it done. Their quarterback is very consistent throwing and when he gets out of the pocket, he makes plays. The Grecco kid has big game experience under his belt so I'm sure he is going to play his best this game. I think that whatever sides seniors' step up and play like it's their last game they will win. We need to score on each possession we have in order to win. If we don't, we could be in for a long game," said Whipple.
Ravena head coach Gary Vanderzee knows all about Schalmont and the formidable task that lies ahead.
"They (Schalmont) are the two-time defending champion with an in-Section 26-game winnig streak. That about says it all. They are very talented and diverse on both sides of the ball. Offensively, they have several threats and use them all. They are a multiple formation team that tries to put you in bad spots by formation. Defensively, they fly to the football and are good tacklers. They will be a formidable opponent for us," he said.
Section II leading scorer Conner Hartigan spearheads Albany Academy. Hartigan has scored 24 touchdowns so far. Last week, Albany Academy got the best of Hudson Falls, 27-6.
Dillon Greene paces Cobleskill-Richmondville with eight touchdowns.
Section II football semifinals
AA-LaSalle at Shenendehowa, CBA at Columbia
A-Burnt Hills at Troy, Queensbury at Amsterdam
B-Ravena at Schalmont, Cobleskill-Richmondville at Albany Academy (Saturday, 1:30 p.m.)
C-Watervliet vs. Hoosick Falls (1 p.m.), Chatham vs. Fonda-Fultonville (7 p.m.) Saturday, at Stillwater
D-Whitehall vs. Cambridge (1 p.m.), Fort Edward vs. Rensselaer (7 p.m.) Saturday, at Schuylerville
All games Friday at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted.
AA: Saratoga at Schenectady (Thursday, 7 p.m.), Shaker at Ballston Spa (Thursday, 4:30 p.m.), Niskayuna at Guilderland (Thursday, 7 p.m.), Albany at Colonie (Thursday, 7 p.m.)
AA/A-Bishop Maginn at Bethlehem (Thursday, 7 p.m.)
A-Scotia at South Glens Falls (Thursday, 6 p.m.), Glens Falls at Lansingburgh
A/B-Gloversville at Johnstown (Friday, 7 p.m.)
B-Ichabod Crane at Taconic Hills (Thursday, 7 p.m.), Hudson at Broadalbin-Perth (Thursday, 6 p.m.), Hudson Falls at Cohoes (Thursday, 4 p.m.), Tamarac at Greenwich (Thursday, 7 p.m.)
C/D-Lake George at Corinth (Friday, 7 p.m.), Warrensburg at Granville (Saturday, 1 p.m.), Voorheesville at Mechanicville (Friday, 7 p.m.)
AA-5. Shenendehowa, 21. CBA; A-4. Troy, 9. Amsterdam, 15. Burnt Hills; B-5. Schalmont, 19. Ravena; C-2. Hoosick Falls, 9. Fonda-Fultonville, 19. Watervliet; D-6. Cambridge, 13. Rensselaer