Friday, August 31, 2012

Niskayuna 38, Saratpga Springs 14 8/31

The defining play in Saratoga Springs' season-opening 38-14 loss was a seemingly routine one. Quarterback Jake Eglintine threw a 9-yard pass to Travis Mooney, who was hit immediately by Uwem Akpanikat.

Akpanikat immediately got up. Mooney didn't. The tackle occurred close to the sideline, so Mooney tried to crawl his way off the field. He couldn't. And then came the scream — one of disbelief and anguish — because certainly, this couldn't be happening. But it was.

You may recall the feature story we did on Mooney as the Blue Streaks began training camp back on Aug. 13. He, perhaps more than anyone, was excited to get back on the field. He had missed all but a handful of plays in 2011 after breaking his leg in the team's season-opening win over Albany.

The coaching staff was happy to have him back too. Terry Jones named him one of the team's two permanent captains. And yet there was Mooney writhing in pain on the Saratoga Springs sidelines, injured on a play that was eerily similar to the one that cost him his junior season.

He was helped off the field and didn't put any weight on his right leg. The training staff was examining his right leg and knee. Jones said he didn't have an update on Mooney after the game, but the senior was seen walking on crutches. That is never a good sign.

Jordan Wilcox, the team's other permanent captain, said you can't help but feel for Mooney. His injury, plus an apparent upper-body injury to freshman Dakota Harvey, were serious blows to the team Monday night. That's what I focused on in the game story, but I wanted to use this blog post to provide some additional analysis into tonight's game, with quotes that didn't make the print cut.

Plan to do this for every Saratoga Springs game this season. More after the jump. Before that, though, check out this shot from Saratogian photographer Ed Burke. It's Dakota Harvey's first varsity touchdown, the moment he crossed the plane on his 64-yard run.

Read more »

Where are You? Week One Poll

This is it folks. 7 p.m. tonight, the lights go up, the pads go on and the football gets snapped. It is now officially high school football season. And what would football season be without my opinion? Don't answer that question. Instead, check this out.

Just like some of our returning varsity players, I've got a year of football experience under my belt and I'll be using that knowledge to once again write my weekly poll, ranking where, at least in my opinion, the best Section II football teams belong; in a list of one to five.

I'll be the first to admit that the first week of polls are a little murky, but there's still some teams that stand out after a few weeks of double sessions. So here they are: every class, the top five teams. Make sure to check it out now and then check it out on Sunday and see just how my far off my predictions may be.

The Record’s High School Football Poll

1.Columbia - The Blue Devils went from the bottom to the top to feeling like they were back on the bottom, all in the of ten football games. Columbia brings back seven starters from last season’s squad, including senior running back Chris Smith. If Smith can have another season like 2011, there’s no reason the Blue Devils shouldn’t have a successful 2012.
2. Shenendehowa - It’s difficult to ever count out the Plainsmen. No matter the year, no matter the situation, the Shen squad always seems to have a hand in the mix with their name constantly being brought up as contenders. This year though, is just a little bit different. For the first time since the program’s inception Brent Steurwald won’t be on the sidelines every Friday night. How first-year Brian Clawson handles his team is going to be a constant story-line all season.
3. La Salle - The Cadets had a nearly unbelievable offense last season and, despite losing quarterback Garret Delory, they have plans to spend a consider¬able amount of time in the endzone again this year. Senior wide receiver Gabe Smith, whose speed is well documented across Section II, is already generating buzz amongst college scouts. Expect him to lead La Salle’s offense all season long.
4. Shaker - The Blue Bison didn’t have the most successful 2011, falling to Shen in the first round of sectionals, but they’ve done the work in the off-season and it shows. Shaker is one of the biggest and most physical squads in their divi¬sion and possibly all of Section II. Returning senior running back Ryan Griffin is as strong as they come and his strength in the backfield is going to be the basis of the Shaker offense.
5. Saratoga - Jake Eglintine was handed the ball, literally and figuratively, near the end of the Blue Streaks’ season last year and, as a sophomore, he led the squad to two straight victories to finish out 2011. Now, with a handful of game-time experience under his belt Eglintine will once again call the shots under cen¬ter. This time though, he’ll have a team around him that knows exactly what they want out of this year.

1. Burnt Hills
- The Spartans made it farther than anyone else in Section II, only to finish their season seven points away from a New York State Championship. That kind of finish doesn’t leave a team’s memory quickly and with plenty of returnees back on the field this season, you an certainly expect BHBL to be out for some vengeance.
2. Troy - The Flying Horses may have seen their season end a bit premature¬ly last year, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t more than prepared for this year. In fact, Troy has been on the field since mid-March, running through plays and finding the rhythm that seemed to desert them in last season’s sectional semi-final.
3. Amsterdam - Doug Edick takes over for longtime coach Pat Liverio as the Rugged Rams prep for another run towards the Class A Super Bowl. Amsterdam was hit relatively hard by graduation, but that might actually be a blessing in dis¬guise. With a new coach a new group of players can easily transition into a different system.
4. Averill Park - The Warriors face a trio of tough games right out of the gate, but don’t underestimate this squad. They have the best numbers, depth-wise, that they’ve seen in years and the majority of their offense already has a season of varsity experience in their ledger. If Averill Park can start strong, they might actually be the black horse of the season.
5. Bishop Maginn - The Warriors lost Mathias McKinnon and his 3,000 career rushing yards to graduation this past spring and with that loss, the team has been forced to evolve a little bit. Throughout the pre-season Maginn tested out three different backs but had yet to make a definitive decision as far as starters go. Joey Deso will have to take on an expanded role as quarterback in 2012, expect him to throw often.

1. Schalmont
- The Sabres come into 2012 as the winners of three consecu¬tive Section II Class B and West Division titles. Although last season’s may have come with a side of controversy as well, with a final-second two-point conversion, Schalmont still walked off the field with the victory and for them that was more than enough.
2. Lansingburgh - The Knights have spent two years as a very young team in Class A. This season they’re an experienced team, facing off against a whole new group of competitive teams. Anthony Walker returns in the backfield for ‘Burgh and the expectations for the junior tailback are already high, although probably not as high as what he expects from himself.
3. Albany Academy - Graduation hit the Cadets hard, there’s no way around that. Team leaders Connor Hartigan and Michael Paparian are both gone and its up to this season’s rising seniors to fill in those rather large shoes. There may be new faces, but Academy is still a strong team and has the depth to make a return to the Super Bowl for the second straight season.
4. Cohoes - The Tigers return their entire offensive line from 2011. That’s huge. A strong offensive line is generally the starting point for a successful team and this year Cohoes has that in spades. The biggest question mark for the Tigers though is their defense. Most players are on the field for both offense and defense, so the Tigers are going to need some serious stamina from the get go.
5. Ravena - The Indians have one goal really; not let Schalmont end their sea¬son. Ravena has found themselves a casualty of the Sabres perennial talent for the past two seasons and this year they’re determined to change history. With seven returning offensive starters and six more returnees on defense, Ravena already stands a good chance of making some headway in their opening matchup against Cohoes.

1. Hoosick Falls
- The Panthers are, for the first time in a long time, a very young team. They still have some key returnees though in quarterback Billy Pine and running back Brad Burns. Both seniors were key components of Hoosick Falls’ dominant team in 2011 and they remember the one point loss that ended their season perfectly. Pine and Burns are back and they’re going after a cham¬pionship.
2. Stillwater - Liam Kane has the potential to be one of the most powerful and dynamic running backs in all of Section II. The senior can power through a line as well as anyone, but give an open field and watch him blow right past you. If Kane can find the endzone consistently, Stillwater can find themselves in a suc¬cessful mix.
3. Fonda - The Braves were no match for the seemingly unstoppable Hoosick Falls team in last season’s Class Super Bowl.     But don’t look to that loss as a reason to count them out in 2012.     Matt Westfall will step into the starting spot as quarterback, with a squadron of fellow seniors that gives Fonda some serious depth as far as experience goes.
4. Mechanicville - The Red Raiders are going to look a little different this sea¬son. For the first time Mechanicville be switching up their offense, alternating from their traditional Power-I to a flex-bone triple offense. Returning quarterback Sal Cimino is going to have to act as a bit of a general on the field and he’ll have to learn the new offense; quickly.
5. Watervliet - The Cannoneers were yet another victim of Hoosick Falls last season and they enter this year as a bit of an underdog. ‘Vliet lost 15 seniors to graduation this past spring and their projected starting quarterback is a junior. They do have some experience at wideout though, with both Anthony Mosca and Jordan Gleason able to get open in the secondary.

1. Cambridge
- Graduation took a toll on the Indians, but even with just five starters returning this season, Cambridge is still the odds on favorite to pick up their third straight Class D Championship. Ethan English is a bit of a prodigy at quarterback and his back for his second year under center. As a freshman he threw for over 1,000 yards and the plan is to keep the ball in the air this year.
2. Rensselaer - The Rams have a rather obvious chip on their shoulders after falling to Cambridge in the past two championship games. This year’s squad doesn’t lack in experience or motivation to make it back to a fifth straight Super Bowl. Steven Harwood will have to carry a lot of those expectations on his shoul¬ders, or rather his arm, as he returns for another year at quarterback.
3. Greenwich - The Witches have some question marks surrounding them going into this season, with a brand-new quarterback after the graduation of four-year starter Tony Giroux and a transition back to Class D competition. Jake Jennings takes over the reins at QB and while there’s plenty of pressure, Jennings has the game in his blood and three years of waiting for game-time to back him up.
4. Warrensburg - The Burghers didn’t get off to the best of starts last season, opening up 2011 at 0-4, but don’t count them out quite yet. Once the squad got a handle on their double wing offense, they won four of their last five matchups. If they can get control of their offensive attack from the start, Warrensburg should present a solid attack.
5. Whitehall - Josh Hoagland will be back on the field for his fourth year as the Railroaders’ starting running back and that alone puts Whitehall in a good place. If the offensive line stays healthy enough to open up lanes for Hoagland, Whitehall has a very good chance to make a run of it.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Here We Go Again: Week One Football Schedule

Turn on the lights, put on the helmets and smell that grass. Or in most cases smell that artificial turf. It's football season again people and we've got our first week's schedule right here for you. There are plenty of solid game choices out there, but for our part here at The Record and The Saratogian, we'll be heading out to Troy/Burnt Hills, Niskayuna/Saratoga and Shenendehowa/Albany. Expect live tweets, video and game updates.

For now though, have this schedule and let us know where you're planning on spending your Friday night. Or Saturday afternoons.

- Laura

Friday, August 31
Class AA

Shenendehowa at Albany, 7 p.m.
Bethlehem at Ballston Spa, 7 p.m.
CBA at Guilderland, 7 p.m.
Colonie at La Salle, 7 p.m.
Columbia at Schenectady, 7 p.m.
Niskayuna at Saratoga, 7 p.m.
Class A
Bishop Maginn at Gloversville, 7 p.m.
Mohonasen at South Glens Falls, 7 p.m.
Burnt Hills at Troy, 7 p.m.
Averill Park at Amsterdam, 7 p.m.
Class A-B Crossover
Glens Falls at Schalmont, 7 p.m.
Class B
Ichabod Crane at Hudson, 7 p.m.
Johnstown at Cobleskill, 7 p.m.
Lansingburgh at Scotia, 7 p.m.
Class B-C Crossover
Broadalbin-Perth at Stillwater, 7 p.m.
Class C
Mechanicville at Hoosick Falls, 7 p.m.
Granville at Corinth, 7 p.m.
Watervliet at Tamarac, 7 p..
Class D
Greenwich at Lake George, 7 p.m.
Rensselaer at Whitehall, 7 p.m.

Saturday, September 1
Class AA-A Crossover

Shaker at Queensbury, 1:30 p.m.
Class B
Schuylerville at Hudson Falls, 1 p.m.
Ravena at Cohoes, 1:30 p.m.
Albany Academy at Green Tech, 7 p.m.
Class C
Chatham at Coxsackie, 1 p.m.
Canajoharie at Warrensburg, 1 p.m.
Taconic Hills at Fonda, 2 p.m.
Class D
Bishop Gibbons at Hoosic Valley, 1 p.m.
Catholic Central at Salem, 1 p.m.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Shaker at Queensbury Update 8/29

A terrible story out of Queensbury, where the football team has learned 16-year-old center Jonathan Vasiliou has died from an infection. Doctors and public health officials are examining bacterial meningitis as a possible cause, though that has yet to be confirmed at this hour Wednesday afternoon.

The latest word from Queensbury school officials is that Saturday afternoon's game between Shaker and Queensbury will go on as scheduled.

“At this point, we’re planning on playing that," Athletic Director Scott Stuart said. "His family has expressed they would like that to happen.”

The district has released a statement regarding Vasiliou's death. It urges anyone who may have come into close contact with the player to contact their physicians and public health officials. 

The varsity, junior varsity, and freshmen football teams and their parents had the opportunity to meet with Queensbury's district physician and Warren County Public Health officials Wednesday morning.

After the jump, the full text of Queensbury's statement.

Read more »

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Because What's a Season, Without A Goal?

The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) announced via Twitter today the dates and locations of the 2012 football playoff series.

The East playoffs, which include Section II, will be played as follows:
Semis: November 16 & 17 in Kingston
The West playoffs, will be played:
Semis: November 16 & 17 in Rochester

As per tradition, the championship games for all five classes - AA, A, B, C, D - will be played at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. Games are scheduled for November 23 - 25. Times have not yet been announced.

The actual 2012 season kicks off this Friday, but you can get all kinds of pre-season insider info in Thursday's editions of The Record and The Saratogian, with their brand-new, very impressive, football preview tab. Make sure you follow @LauraAmato and @MCSaratogian throughout the upcoming football season for all kinds of info as well.

- Laura

Monday, August 27, 2012

Preview of a preview 8/27

Greetings all,

Apologies that this blog hasn’t been updated much during the preseason, but staffs at The Saratogian and The Record have been busy assembling our 2012 high school preview section, which hits newsstands (do they still have newsstands?) this Thursday, Aug. 30.

Be sure to pick up a copy of either paper that day if you’re interested in high school football. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about the coming season and then some. Cambridge’s Matt Parmenter, for example, uses Nicki Minaj’s “Starships” as his baseball walkup song.

Until then, I thought I would give you a brief rundown on how some of the local schools I visited match up this season. We’ll have a more comprehensive look at all the region’s schools Thursday.

Saratoga Springs: Injuries hit the Blue Streaks hard last season and they finished 3-6. They will look to rebound from that without top rusher Jesse Spencer and several All-Star defenders, all of who graduated. Staying healthy will be key.

Ballston Spa: With a young and largely inexperienced backfield, the Scotties will count on their offensive line perhaps more than ever this season. Quarterback John DeGuardi and running backs Jordan Davis and R.J. Borgolini all graduated, but the veteran line remains largely intact.            

Cambridge: The Indians are coming off back-to-back Class D sectional titles, but lost many key contributors from the 2011 team that went all the way to the state semifinals. But their core of starters, while limited, is solid and coach Doug Luke’s team always seems to find a way to thrive.

Corinth: The Tomahawks weren’t as consistent as they needed to be during a 3-6 2011 season. They’ve worked on that during the offseason and will continue to target improvements there as they look to post a winning record and secure a sectional title in 2012.
Greenwich: The Witches drop from Class C to Class D is both a blessing and a curse. It’s generally regarded as less-demanding football, which could help Greenwich’s young team, but the Witches also don’t have film on any of their opponents. They may contend for a sectional title if they can stay healthy.

Schuylerville: Senior Shane Lyon moves to quarterback as the Black Horses look to secure their first sectional title since moving to Class B. He’ll quarterback Schuylerville’s unique flexbone offense that looks to diversify its running options in 2012.

South Glens Falls: The Bulldogs are switching from a spread offense to a split-back formation, which gives the formidable running back tandem of Caleb Lawrence and Travis Schrammel a lot more options. They will look to break the school’s skid of losing seasons, which began in 1993.

Stillwater: Liam Kane, a 1,000-yard rusher a year ago, will lead the Warriors’ ground game, but how effective will he be without stalwart lineman Matt Campion? A lot of that depends on the ability of senior wide receiver Shawn McNeil to draw defenders and divert attention from Kane.

Sportswriter Stan Hudy handled training camps at Mechanicville, Shenendehowa and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake. If you’d like to see how they fare, you’ll have to wait until Thursday morning.

Until next time,
-- MC

Sunday, August 26, 2012

They're Excited. And You Should Be Too.

With Section II football's opening night just around the corner - it's Friday, if you hadn't heard - The Record and The Saratogian will both be publishing a joint preview edition on Thursday. The preview is guaranteed to answer all your pre-season questions and satisfy your need for high school football a day early.

While both staffs have been working incredibly hard on the production of the preview, the fact is that it's, ultimately, about the players and it's those players who should be excited about the stories. So, without further ado, here they are; the players.

A very cooperative handful of Section II players agreed to a semi-embarassing performance on camera during Sunday's media day at UAlbany, which you can watch if you click the link below. In case you couldn't tell, these guys think the preview is going to be awesome. You should probably think the same thing. Remember, it comes out on Thursday.

- Laura

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Welcome to The Red Zone!

Welcome to The Red Zone, a new high school football blog for both The Record and The Saratogian.

Check back regularly during high school football season for the latest updates from The Record's own Laura Amato and The Saratogian's Michael Cignoli.

With practices just starting to begin, you can be sure that there will be plenty to report back on this season.

Tell us what teams you're looking forward to watching this year in the comments below!