Playoff Implications on the Line-Week 7 Albany Area High School Football Preview
It’s Week 7 of the area high school football season and many teams are involved in games with championships and playoff implications on the line.
In Class AA, Shenendehowa shut out CBA of Albany, 42-0, last week to wrap up the Empire Division championship and first seed.
The Plainsmen, 5-0, 6-0, travel to rival Saratoga Springs on Friday at 7 p.m. In the past three years, the Blue Streaks have had their way, 14-12 (2010), 51-20 (2009) and 30-21 (2008).
But, the Blue Streaks have fallen on hard times this season going 1-4 in divisional play and 1-5 overall. Saratoga won the season opener, 40-6, over Albany and then suffered five straight losses.
“They’re (Shenendehowa) as good as advertised. They were the favorite to win the AA’s and so far living up to people’s expectations. Our goal is to win the last three games. So, we’re taking it one game at a time, but this week is a huge challenge,” said Saratoga head coach Terry Jones.
Jake Eglintine, a 5-10, 152-lb. sophomore, started his first game at quarterback against Ballston Spa a week ago and will be back calling signals. Running back Jesse Spencer is the scoring leader with seven touchdowns and Dan Rittenhouse has contributed four scores.
“They (Shenendehowa) have the advantage. They’re solid all the way through, just an excellent football team. They’re the best in the section. We’ll go out and play to the best of our ability. We’re always preparing for the things we do well. We have to limit them on first down and create turnovers. We also have to play well on special teams,” said Jones.
It’s been a disappointing season for the Blue Streaks who will play in two crossover games after their meeting with Shen.
“We certainly could’ve played better. Our kids are not foolish. They know Shen. We have a lot of kids that go both ways and Shen has a lot of depth. Our defense has been on the field too long. The kids will be up for this game. Shen has an outstanding stable of running backs led by Tony Fusco and (Marcelino) Christie. It’s our last regular season home game for the seniors,” said Jones.
Fusco and Christie have scored 15 and 7 touchdowns, respectively.
Shenendehowa is ranked fifth in the Class AA poll.
CBA of Albany, 4-1, 5-1, will make a trip to Ballston Spa 4-1, 5-1, to determine the second and third seeds in the Empire Division.
In the Liberty Division, the seeding positions are up for grabs with several key matchups. Columbia, Shaker and Schenectady all own 3-1 divisional records. A three-way tie for first is possible.
Burnt Hills, 3-1, 5-1, entertains Queensbury 3-1, 4-2 in a Class A Northwest Division contest Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The second seed and home field advantage in the first round are on the line. Burnt Hills occupies 18th in the state rankings.
There are two big games in the Class B. Ravena invades Albany Academy for the Reinfurt Division crown while unbeaten Schalmont welcomes Schuylerville in a West Division game that will decide the title on Saturday night.
Schalmont is listed fifth in the state Class B rankings and Ravena 19th.
“The game is for the Reinfurt Division championship, and the number one seed from our division, for the second year in a row. Both teams continue to improve on both sides of the ball. Obviously, we must slow Conner Hartigan down and figure out a way to move the ball against a very aggressive defense. They are big and strong up front,” said Ravena veteran head coach Gary Vanderzee.
Ravena is 3-0 in divisional play and 5-1 against all competition while Albany Academy is 3-0 and 4-2 overall.
“The game is big. Our goal all year is to go 4-0 in our division to give us the best chance to make a Super Bowl run. Our offensive line has led the way all year. (tackles Mike Paparian and Alex Buchanan, guards Ian Bennett and Ahil Dawoodani and center Tristian Hyde),” said Albany Academy head coach Tony Fruscio.
Conner Hartigan leads the Section II rushing with 1,261 yards and 21 touchdowns. Other offensive weapons are David Bryce, Darrien White, Erik Rayno,and Austin Zeh.
On defense, Paparian and Buchanan lead the defensive line with Bennett, Rayno and Reed Mahoney at linebacker. Jelanie Hoyte-King, Hartigan and Justin Brock are also in the secondary.
“For us, Connor Zeoli has run our offense very efficiently and has made excellent use of all of his receivers. As always, the staple of our offense is our running game and Cameron Grecco, and Dylan Keyer have run the ball very well. It should be a game worth watching,” said Vanderzee.
Grecco leads Ravena in the scoring department with nine touchdowns.
Unbeaten Schalmont 4-0, 6-0, welcomes Schuylerville 3-1, 5-1, for all the marbles in the Class B West Division.
In other key matchups, Cobleskill-Richmondville 2-2, 3-3, takes on Johnstown 1-3, 1-5, while Hudson Falls battles Broadalbin-Perth.
Schuylerville head coach Greg O’Connor knows the task ahead in facing a tough Schalmont unit.
“They’re a tough team and we have to defend their schemes which are very sound. We have our work cut out. We have to stop their big plays. We have to avoid turnovers and rally to the football. I think last year we had six turnovers and lost 13-0,” he said. “I knew I had a pretty good team. We spread the ball around with seven or eight kids carrying the ball. It’s nice.”
Cobleskill-Richmondville head coach Ed Hantho hopes his team can win the regular season finale and gain some momentum in the postseason.
“We feel Johnstown has been an overlooked team who can play with everyone. We have to do a great job with their quarterback (Matthew Hecht) and wide receiver (Anthony Young), but all around they are quick and they are playing very good defense against everyone. We are hoping to come away with a win and then see where everyone else finishes this weekend. Obviously, we would like to see certain things happen that would allow us to get a home playofff game, but the only thing we can control is our play against Johnstown – so that is what we will focus on,” he said.
Pairings for the postseason and crossovers will be announced on Sunday.
Article by Mike Collar