Monday, October 22, 2012

High School Playoff Recap/Preview

37 teams entered play on Friday with a chance to make it to the Super Bowl for their respective class.  By the end of Saturday, only 20 of those 37 remained with hopes of making it to Syracuse for the championships Thanksgiving Weekend.

With a season as short as there is in Section II Football, every game does matter.  But none matter more than the games we find in week 8 and beyond.

CLASS AA: Week 5 rematch on the horizon?

In Class AA, the big debate over the past few weeks have been about Shenendehowa, who potentially could be playing at home against Shaker in the Class AA Super Bowl in week 10.  To some, it would be giving Shenendehowa what they feel is an unfair advantage being the hosts and thus the home team.  In Week 5, the Blue Bisons beat the Plainsmen 35-8 at Shaker High to propel themselves to the top of Class AA.

But before the Blue Bisons can make plans to be at Shenendehowa, they need to make it past the Schenectady Patriots (Friday, 7PM at Shaker High).  The Pats narrowly squeezed past CBA on Saturday night, winning 28-27.  The Pats gave the Blue Bisons a run back in Week 4, using two touchdown passes to lead 14-0 in the 1st quarter before the Blue Bisons used the run and the air to combine for three touchdowns to come back for the 21-14 lead. 

And Shenendehowa will have to make their way past Columbia (Friday, 7PM at Shenendehowa).  Columbia made easy work of Guilderland last week, winning 30-10.

Debaters can continue worrying about changes of venues bringing different results until the proverbial cliché cows come home, but if a team is good enough to make it to the finals, they should be able to win both at home and on the road, regardless of who that road opponent may be.

Can anyone bring down Burnt Hills?

In week #1, the Burnt Hills Spartans were questioned when they led off the season with a 17-7 loss to Troy.  Since then, the Spartans have rattled off convincing win after convincing win, keeping their opponents to less than 10 points in all but two of their last 7 games.  One of those two games came against the Queensbury Spartans, but while the Q-Spartans scored 14, the B-Spartans put 49 up on the board back in week 4.

These two teams will meet again in the Class A Semifinals (Friday, 7PM at Burnt Hills).  The Q-Spartans have bounced back from their early losses with 4 straight wins, including a shutout win against the Albany Academy Cadets, and a convincing ground-pound win over the Scotia Tartans in the Quarterfinals on Saturday where the Spartans outgained the Tartans 217-16 in rushing yards, and 79-33 via the air.  Phillip Wettersten rushed for 78 yards and Alston Moses contributed with 66 yards. 

This round of the Spartans vs. Spartans could prove to be interesting, and is a true test to whether or not the Q-Spartans have bounced back from their first four weeks of play where they fell to Shaker, Amsterdam and Burnt Hills.

Meanwhile, in the other bracket, the Troy Flying Horses will have their hands full with the Amsterdam Rugged Rams (Friday, 7PM at Troy).  When we saw them a couple weeks ago against the South Glens Falls Bulldogs, Geo Rodriguez, Brett Stanavich and Hector Diaz all looked good.  And Rodriguez looked even better when the Rugged Rams got revenge for their Week 1 loss when they beat Averill Park in the first round of the Class A playoffs last week 58-14.  He was 6 for 9, throwing 125 yards for two scores, ran in the ball once for a score himself, and was a contributor on an Averill Park fumble that was returned for a touchdown.

Troy made it past Gloversville in the first round, thanks to Pat Chamberlain’s 158 yards on 6 carries and four touchdowns.  Maurice Jones helped out with a 75 yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and ran in for a touchdown himself. 

CLASS B: Knighted

The big news came Friday night when the Schuylerville Black Horses rolled into Lansingburgh and showed that they were not intimidated by their #1 seed.   After Danny Waldron’s 4 yard touchdown run put the Black Horses ahead 14-0, the Black Horses were feeling really good about their chances.  But the Lansingburgh Knights weren’t going down without a fight, and thanks to a few key Schuylerville turnovers, they came back to take a 19-13 lead in the 4th Quarter thanks to an Anthony Walker run.  But then Danny Waldron came back with a touchdown to put the Black Horses up 20-19 with 3:07 left to play.  Shane Lyons sealed the victory for the Black Horses when he picked off a pass with 11 seconds left to bring about the first loss of the season for the Lansingburgh Knights.

With Schyulerville’s win on Friday night, the winner of the Albany Academy/Glens Falls matchup on Saturday would gain the right to host Schyulerville in the semifinals.  The Indians showed their running legs early, when Cam Girard ran in to score twice.  Both scores came thanks to big runs by running backs Joe McMahon and Mike LaNoir.  Mike LaNoir showed off his arm with a nice pass play to Jake Dailey on a 2 point conversion, and the Indians went into the halftime break up 16-0.  Before the storm clouds fully made its way to Putt LaMay Memorial Field, Cam Girard ran in for his third touchdown of the game to put the Indians up 22-0.

The Indians returned to the field after a 45 minute thunderstorm delay with more ground and pound offense, as Mike LaNoir came in to score his lone touchdown of the game.  He finished the game with 96 yards, and Joe McMahon added another 150+ yards as the Indians rolled past Albany Academy 36-0 to set up a week 2 rematch against Schuylerville (Saturday, 1:30PM at Glens Falls). 

In Week 2, The Glens Falls Indians defeated the Schyulerville Black Horses 34-15 thanks to three touchdowns from Cam Girard and a pair of interceptions.  The Black Horses are not a team to take lightly, pushing Schalmont to the brink with their 27-24 loss in Week 3.  And coming off a huge upset in the first round, the Black Horses could really be the dark horse of the Class B tournament.

CLASS C: Can Hoo-Falls be stopped?

The Hoosick Falls Panthers have been unstoppable this season, rattling off mesmerizing wins.  The Panthers have surrendered 15 points or less in all 8 games this season, with the most coming against Voorheesville in the first round of the Class C playoffs this past Saturday, when the Panthers won 69-14.  The Panthers have put together 4 shutouts, all in which they scored 40 or more points.

If there is to be a challenge from any team in Section II, it may very well be coming from Chatham in the south.  Like Hoo-Falls, they come into the semifinals sporting an 8-0 record.  Only one team has scored more than 14 points against the C-Panthers, and that was Lyons, a team playing from Section V out near the Finger Lakes region in a game to make up for Cairo-Durham cancelling their season.

First, the Hoo-Falls Panthers need to get past Fonda-Fultonville, a team that shut out Tamarac in the first round last week.  And Chatham will have to get past Mechanicville, a team that will be playing only 10 miles away at Stillwater and will have the crowd advantage because of the proximity. 

CLASS D: Can the North beat the South?  Did Cambridge show vulnerability?

The first round of the Class D playoffs begin this Saturday at Schyulerville High as the Whitehall Railroaders take on the Rensselaer Rams (Saturday, 1PM at Schuylerville).  The Railroaders lost to the Rams back in Week 1 by a score of 21-12, in a game where Justin Hoagland gave the Railroaders some life near the end with a 98 yard interception return to narrow the gap to 9.  Since that game, Josh Hoagland has run his way into the top 5 of Section II for scoring, rushing and rushing touchdowns.  A strong Josh/Justin Hoagland combo could make things interesting for this semifinal.

In the other semifinal, the Cambridge Indians come into play after beating Rensselaer for the #1 seed in a game where they came out to a 27-0 lead, but then allowed three straight unanswered scores where the Rams made things interesting for the closing minutes.  The Indians were pushed to the end before, when they needed overtime to beat the Greenwich Witches back in Week 6

This will be the first meeting of the season between the Salem Generals and the Cambridge Indians (Saturday, 7PM at Schuylerville).  In this battle of Route 22, the Generals will have some offensive weapons, but might have difficulty stopping the weapons that the Indians have put on the field through win after win.  Matt Parmenter, Len Darcy and Ethan English will be the players to watch for Cambridge, who will have to contain Issac Isom and Tyler Morris, and stop Ryan Braymer as the signal caller.