Regional football: Spartans eye another trip to state semifinals
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake will look to continue its streak of regional football success tonight, while Glens Falls makes its first state tournament appearance in nearly two decades.
Section II champions Hoosick Falls and Rensselaer compete Saturday, and Shaker has a bye into the state semifinals.
Burnt Hills (9-1) will go after its fifth straight Class A regional win at 7 p.m. against Potsdam (Section X, 9-1) at Massena High School. With another state quarterfinal victory, the Spartans will match Amsterdam (Class A 2001-05) for the most in consecutive years for a Section II team.
Burnt Hills toppled Amsterdam last week for its ninth win in a row, 48-6, when Shomari Ingram’s 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown broke an early tie and kick-started a spree of 42 unanswered points. Quarterback Ryan McDonnell and Dan Maynard both had two touchdowns in the flurry, with Maynard — BH-BL’s only sophomore — scoring from 48 and 44 yards away.
“It was great for us. It happened at the right time,” Burnt Hills coach Matt Shell said of Ingram’s momentum-swinging return. “The confidence was real high at that point.”
Burnt Hills defeated Potsdam in a 2010 regional game (42-0), and also knocked off Indian River in 2008 (35-12), and Franklin Academy in 2009 (54-13) and last year (63-20). The Spartans followed with state semifinal wins before losing in state title games in 2008, 2009 and last year.
“The guys know it’s a big deal. It’s a huge game. They know what’s at stake. It’s a great opportunity, and they want to take advantage of it,” said Shell. “They understand that if we win this game, we get to play in the state semifinals.”
Potsdam beat Massena last week, 40-0, when Oden Robertson scored three touchdowns and went over the 1,000-yard rushing mark with 131 yards, and Shawn Clark had a TD reception to go with an interception and fumble recovery.
“They’ve got a good running back with good speed and agility, and a big, physical line,” said Shell. “They’re a run-heavy team. We’ll see a lot of I-formation.”
Potsdam has scored 40 points or more six times this season, and averages 280 rushing yards per outing.
“We want our defense to get them off the field,” said Shell. “On offense, it will be important to come out focused, take care of the football and establish some continuity.”
Potsdam is ranked No. 26 in the state sportswriters’ poll, and Burnt Hills is No. 5. Burnt Hills lost its only regional game in 2006 against Indian River.
Glens Falls (9-1) beat Schalmont last week for its first Section II championship since 1993, 21-14, and earned a 7 p.m. Class B regional game against Peru (Section VII, 9-1) at Shenendehowa. Glens Falls and Peru hooked up in the state quarters 19 years ago, with the Indians prevailing, 21-7.
Glens Falls turned a pair of first-half fumbles into touchdowns, and Mike LaNoir caught the game-winning touchdown pass from Cam Girard last week in Glens Falls’ ninth straight win since it opened the season with a setback against the Sabres.
“We were able to cash in on turnovers,” said Girard. “In big games, turnovers are the biggest stat.”
Peru is on a defensive hot streak with three straight shutouts, blanking Franklin Academy last week, 35-0, and Plattsburgh (70-0) and Beekmantown (48-0) before, and has allowed seven points or less seven times.
Peru’s Mackenzie LaRocque ran for 145 yards and a touchdown against Franklin Academy, Hunter Bruno had two TDs, and the Peru defense sent three players to the hospital with various injuries.
Peru is ranked No. 7 in the state, one spot ahead of Glens Falls.
Hoosick Falls (10-0) and Saranac Lake (Section VII, 10-0) meet Saturday at 1 p.m. in a Class C game at Ausable Valley. Hoosick Falls beat Chatham, 40-0, last week for its fourth consecutive Section II title, and Saranac Lake advanced with a 42-12 rout of Ogdensburg Free Academy.
Hoosick Falls beat Saranac Lake in a state quarter last year, 47-13, and lost to the Section VII representatives in 2010, 15-12.
Hoosick Falls and Saranac Lake are ranked No. 2 and No. 6 in the state, respectively.
Rensselaer (9-1) and Moriah (Section VII, 5-5) will renew their state tourney rivalry Saturday at 1 p.m. at Schuylerville. The teams have met six previous times, with the Rams using their two wins in 1994 and 1995 as a springboard to state finals. Moriah last beat Rensselaer in 2009 and 2008.
Shaker (10-0) is ranked No. 1 in the state, and earned its first state tournament berth with last week’s 14-0 Class AA triumph over Shenendehowa. Shaker and the regional winners will play Section I-IX opponents in the state semifinals next weekend at Dietz Stadium in Kingston.