Shaker Set To Take On Shenendehowa – Friday Night High School Football Preview
A pair of unbeaten Class AA teams will lock horns on Friday night when Shaker invades Shenendehowa in an interdivisional game.
Shenendehowa, coached by the legendary Brent Steuerwald, has beaten Bethlehem, 50-0, and Guilderland, 27-0, while Shaker, led by second-year coach Greg Sheeler, knocked off Columbia, 32-28, and Colonie, 35-18.
"Shen is definitely the team to beat in the AA's. They are extremely talented on both sides of the ball led by Brandon Miller and Mark Thomas on defense and Ted Van Galen and Tony Fusco on offense. The fact that it is a non-league game does not mean anything to us. We are going up to play one of the most talented teams in the section and we want to prepare like we would any other week, to win," said Sheeler.
Fusco has scored five touchdowns already this season and spearheads a very potent Plainsmen offensive unit.
And, of course, Steuerwald has announced this will be his final season as head coach of Shenendehowa after 44 years.
"This game has a lot of implications. You're looking at home-field advantage and could imply the number one seed and low seed. It has importance for the future," said Steuerwald. "You have to get excited about every game. We have to be at our best every single game."
And what about home-field advantage Friday night?
"In football, it's different. It's not the same as basketball. I don't think at any level, home-field is a big deal. Shen has a target on their back. But, Shaker is one of the stronger teams in the other division," said Steuerwald.
Ryan Griffin is Shaker's top offensive producer with three touchdowns and five PAT's. Tyler Oppelt has contributed three touchdowns.
Sheeler has built the Blue Bison into a respectable team.
"If we are to have success, our offensive line consisting of Schuyler Huntington, Dom Sposito, Jake Smith, Kyle Hitchcock-Powers, and David Morrison need to have a great game. Picking up blitzes and controlling the line of scrimmage will be critical. Also, quarterback Chris Landers needs to make good decisions and keep us in down and distances that are negotiable," he said.
Steuerwald boasts a lot of talent and expects Shaker will provide tough opposition.
"Shaker had a great year. Their coach is energetic and positive. They have seven of 11 returning on defense. It should be a highly-competitive game. Errors are very impacting. I think last week we grew as a team. You have to be at your best. They (Shaker) are very physical," he said.
The game will be televised on Time Warner Sports starting at 7 p.m.
In a Class AA Empire Division game, unbeaten CBA of Albany entertains Bethlehem Friday at 7 p.m.
"Bethlehem will be very tough. (John) Gosstola is a very good thrower and is elusive, a great athlete. His run looks good so far. The defense will be tough. They play hard and fast," said CBA head coach Joe Burke.
CBA opened the season with a 43-29 win over LaSalle and then beat rival Albany, 40-6. Cameron Wynn has scored six touchdowns to lead the way.
On the other side, Bethlehem was shut out by Shenendehowa, 50-0, and then bounced back to turn away Saratoga, 43-14.
The Class A Northwest Division sends Glens Falls (2-0) at Amsterdam (2-0).
Amsterdam got out of the gate with victories over Queensbury (29-7) and a big upset over Burnt Hills (23-7) and Glens Falls knocked off Niskayuna (35-26) and Gloversville (21-7).
Troy (2-0) travels to Averill Park (1-1) in a Class A Southeast Division encounter. The Flying Horses have beaten Scotia-Glenville (46-12) and Mohonasen (27-0) while Averill Park lost to Lansingburgh (34-9) and defeated Green Tech (39-14).
''This is already week #3 of the high school season. At this point, the better teams continue to improve and begin to separate themselves from the pack. We'd like to be one of those teams. We are excited about Friday night and our game with Averill Park," said Troy head coach Jack Burger.
Troy plans to be a little more diverse (with the run and pass game) in its offensive approach which it hopes will keep Averill Park a bit off balance.
"Last week against Mohonasen, we took a step backwards and have worked hard on some basics that will hopefully give us an opportunity to play a more consistent game this week," said Burger.
The Flying Horses will get Raheem Felder and Nick Valenti, two of their top players back this week, after missing last week due to a academic suspension and injury. Both play with high energy and bring a lot to the team. Troy hopes to continue to get solid play from captain Daquan Holmes, quarterback/free safety, Maurice Green, tailback/cornerback and Shane Ross, offensive and defensive line. These three seniors have had two very solid games to start the season.
Burnt Hills (1-1) will try to regroup after its loss to Amsterdam and get the best of visiting Class AA rep Schenectady.
"Teams win games, team lose games. Schenectady has real good size, very athletic and good skilled kids. It's going to be a great test. We have to forget it (loss to Amsterdam). You have to have a short memory. I think we will be fine," said Matt Shell, Burnt Hills head coach.
At the same time, Shell credits Amsterdam for playing a tough game and it was just their night.
"We know we played poorly. I have the most respect for Pat (head coach Liverio) than any other team. He's a class person, on and off the field. And I think the kids on both sides respect each other. All the credit in that game goes to Amsterdam. Now, we focus on another tough team in Schenectady Friday night," said Shell.
Schenectady opened the season with an impressive 14-7 win over Colonie but then suffered a heartbreaking loss to Ballston Spa, 41-34.
"Burnt Hills is not only a great football team, but they are a great football program. Year after year, they are contenders for sectional and state titles. We are excited to gauge our program versus theirs. I think they are a well-rounded football team. Burnt Hills uses a lot of different people to run the ball and all are effective. Defensively, their middle linebacker is outstanding. I am equally impressed by their defensive tackles. The team that controls the line of scrimmage and wins the turnover battle will increase their chances for success. We look forward to the challenge," said Schenectady head coach Jim Kramer.
Jallah Tarver and Felix Rodriguez lead the Patriots offense with three touchdowns apiece.
Unbeaten Fonda-Fultonville (2-0) makes a long journey to Taconic Hills (1-0) Friday night. The Braves have beaten Watervliet (15-14) and Canajoharie (39-9) while Taconic Hills has prevailed over Voorheesville (39-38).
Visit the section II website for complete schedule.
Article by Mike Collar