Shenendehowa Looking To Make Coaches Last Season Memorable With Playoff Win
The Shenendehowa High School football team begins the second stage of trying to give retiring head coach Brent Steuerwald a nice send-off to an illustrious career. After 44 years on the Plainsmen sidelines, Steuerwald said this is his final year.
Unbeaten Shenendehowa (7-0) and Empire Division winners will entertain Shaker in a Class AA quarterfinal game on Friday at 7 p.m. at Steuerwald Stadium.
The teams met on Friday, Sept. 16 and Shenendehowa posted a 34-0 victory. Senior running back Tony Fusco scored three touchdowns in that game.
And don't think the Plainsmen are taking anything for granted.
"It's a two-way street. You want to advance. There's so much at risk. They've changed considerably since the time we played them. They're certainly a different looking team. We still watch the film. We have an awful lot on the line," said Steuerwald.
The veteran coach feels that his passing game, led by quarterback Teddy Van Galen, has improved throughout the season and the defense has played consistently.
"That's (passing game) become an integral part of our structure. Every team is different as the season goes on and we expect a tough game against Shaker," he said.
Obviously, Shaker head coach Greg Sheeler is looking for different results this time around.
"Shen is a challenge in every phase of the game. Offensively, we need to sustain drives and be able to eliminate negative plays. They are very sound on defense and will not make mistakes. To be successful, we need to execute and be efficient on third down situations," said Sheeler.
The Plainsmen, ranked fifth in the state Class AA poll, have scored 297 points and allowed just 33. Fusco has reached the end zone 17 times and his running mate Marcelino Christie contributed seven touchdowns.
"Shen's offense is so dynamic because of their ability to change looks each play. They can go from a power formation and run to a spread look and throw. We need to eliminate the big plays by playing disciplined, fundamental football," said Sheeler.
Shaker finished 3-2 in the Liberty Division and own a 3-4 overall mark. Ryan Griffin is the offensive leader with eight touchdowns.
In another Class AA quarterfinal game, CBA of Albany will host Schenectady Friday at 7 p.m.
CBA took second in the Empire Division with a 5-1 record, losing only to Shenendehowa, while going 6-1 overall. The Brothers are tied for 25th in the state Class AA rankings.
"Schenectady is a very well-coached football team. Two outstanding running backs and a big-play receiver. Their backs are down hill guys. We will need to be exact in our positioning as to limit their productivity. Their 50 defense is very tough. We will have a thorough plan and need to be precise in our alignment and be very physical to ensure positive yards," said CBA head coach Joe Burke.
CBA will rely on Cameron Wynn for another big game. He has scored 12 touchdowns so far this season.
"We had a tough week of practice last week. It took some time to get through the first loss. Credit our kids who found the courage to bounce back and play very well in our Ballston Spa game. Our defense goal was to limit Jordan Davis and not allow him to get going, which we did with 26 yards. We bent but didn't break and caused four turnovers. A great bounce back win," said Burke.
In Class A, Bishop Maginn will entertain Queensbury at Schenectady on Friday at 7 p.m. The game was originally planned for Bleecker Stadium but the field was deemed unplayable.
Bishop Maginn put together a 4-2 Southeast Division record en route to a 5-2 mark overall.
"It shapes up as a very tough challenge for Maginn. After two losses to Averill Park and Troy and the last second Mohonasen win over Averill Park, our backs were to the wall. Lose to Lansingburgh and we would be out of playoffs or win and be the #2 seed in the Southeast conference. Our players stepped up to the challenge and now must step up again against a big, strong, physical Queensbury team," said Maginn head coach Joe Grasso.
This will mark Maginn's third game in a row facing the double-wing offense (Green Tech, Lansingburgh, Queensbury).
"Each team accentuates a different aspect of this offensive attack. Queensbury has bigger backs and linemen. They seem to wear down their opponents. We must maintain great positioning defensively and must defend the off-tackle hole consistently. We will have to be more diverse on offense, blending the run and pass effectively, enough to keep their offense off the field. Our players and coaches are excited about the opportunity to be in a playoff game with a chance to advance," said Grasso.
Unbeaten Troy (7-0) will face Glens Falls for the second time this season in another Friday night game at 7.
On Sept. 24, Troy, fourth in the state Class A poll, got the best of the Indians, 28-6, with Maurice Green scoring three touchdowns.
Daquan Holmes leads the Flying Horses with 11 touchdowns while Green and Raheem Felder have added six apiece.
Glens Falls coach Pat Lilac knows the tough challenge that lies ahead.
"Troy held us to our lowest rushing total in any game this season. We have to find a way to move the ball a little bit and take some of the pressure off of our defense which actually played pretty well against them the first game. Scoring points has been difficult for everyone vs. them this season," he said.
Matt Shell will have Burnt Hills ready for a Class A quarterfinal game when Mohonasen rolls into town Friday at 7 p.m.
The Spartans enter the game with a 6-1 record, falling to Amsterdam. Shell feels his club has played very well all season and can't wait for postseason play.
"They (Mohonasen) have an athletic quarterback and very good skilled kids. They're aggressive on defense. They had a good year in their division. We have to make sure we play defense. Our defense has been great all year. The effort is there," said Shell.
Burnt Hills, 17th in the state Class A rankings, is looking for its fourth straight Class A sectional title.
"We got to do all the little things in this game. I'm very happy how we are. I think we do a lot of good things. I wish we were more consistent on offense. We've improved. Going into the season, I thought we had one of the toughest schedules with two Class AA games included," said Shell.
Amsterdam (7-0) will entertain Lansingburgh in a Class A quarterfinal Friday at 7 p.m. Rugged Rams head coach Pat Liverio announced he will step down at the end of the season.
Running back Brett Stanavich and quarterback Vinny Sobkowich lead Amsterdam in scoring with eight and seven touchdowns, respectively.
Amsterdam, ninth in the state Class A poll, has delivered 248 points and given up just 37.
A Class B quarterfinal game features unbeaten Schalmont (7-0) hosting Hudson on Friday. Alex Hildebrand is having a monster season with 13 touchdowns, Devon Willis has totaled 12 scores and quarterback Niko Nicoletti engineers the offense from his quarterback position.
"Hudson is the most dangerous team out there in the playoffs. They have the speed and athletic ability to break a play at anytime. This is a similar situation the Schalmont team had just four years ago and lost to Hudson. We need to get rid of those ghosts and play a sound football game on both sides of the ball and control the momentum of the game. If we do that, I think we have a pretty good chance of moving on to the second round. If we don't do those things Hudson will beat us," said Schalmont head coach Joe Whipple.
Schalmont occupies fifth in the state Class B rankings.
Section II football schedule
All games at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted
Shaker at Shenendehowa, Ballston Spa at LaSalle, Schenectady at CBA, Guilderland at Columbia
Glens Falls at Troy, Mohonasen at Burnt Hills, Queensbury vs. Bishop Maginn at Schenectady, Lansingburgh at Amsterdam
Hudson at Schalmont, Schuylerville at Ravena, Cohoes at Cobleskill-Richmondville, Hudson Falls at Albany Academy (Sat. Oct. 22, 2 p.m.)
Taconic Hills at Hoosick Falls (Friday, 7 p.m.), Greenwich at Watervliet (Saturday, 1 p.m.), Chatham at Tamarac (Friday, 7 p.m.), Stillwater at Fonda-Fultonville (Saturday, 1 p.m.)
AA-Bethlehem at Niskayuna, Colonie at Saratoga, Albany at Averill Park (All games Friday at 7 p.m.)
A-Scotia at Gloversville (Friday, 7 p.m.), Green Tech vs. South Glens Falls at Bleecker Stadium (Thursday, 7 p.m.)
B-C-Hoosic Valley at Ichabod Crane, Corinth at Canajoharie, Johnstown at Mechanicville (All games Friday at 7 p.m.), Broadalbin-Perth at Coxsackie-Athens, Voorheesville at Granville (Both games Saturday at 1 p.m.).
Article by Mike Collar