Small School Football Preview: Scotia-Glenville has high expectations
The newest member of Section II’s Class B football league wants to soar even higher after last season’s breakthrough performance.
“We’re not just looking for six wins. We don’t want to put a limit on it,” Scotia-Glenville senior running back Ramair Brown said after a recent practice session. “We have so much potential. We want to keep going up and up. We don’t want to have those peaks and valleys.”
Scotia-Glenville had some last fall, yet bounced back several times to attain those six victories, which marked the most for the program since the 1994 season. The Tartans also made their first Section II playoff appearance since 2006 after placing second to Troy in the Class A Southeast Division.
“We have something exciting going on, and we want to build on it,” said Kevin Warren, Scotia-Glenville’s third-year coach. “We did some good stuff last year, and we’ve set our goals high. We’ll continue to work on them.”
The Tartans will do so as a member of the eight-team Class B West Division that includes its five-time defending champion in Schalmont, and Glens Falls, which ended the Sabres’ Section II title run at three last November. There’s also Schuylerville and Cobleskill-Richmondville — and their new coaches in John Bowen and Kevin Billington — and rising Broadalbin-Perth, which went from one win in 2010 to three in 2011 to five last year.
“It’s good football, and you’ve got to play 48 minutes,” said Warren. “The kids are excited and ready to do that. They want to build on what we’ve done”
Scotia-Glenville snapped a string of 10 losing seasons with its 6-3 record, which included five wins in its final six games. The Tartans nearly pulled off a major shocker in their 2012 opener with a big rally in a 36-35 loss to Lansingburgh.
“They’ve got things rolling. They have momentum,” said Schalmont coach Joe Whipple, whose Sabres have a Week 2 meeting with the Tartans. “They’re feeling good about themselves, and Kevin has the kids believing. That’s half the battle.”
“Teams may be underestimating us,” said Brown. “They’re looking at the old Scotia. This is a new team with a new roster.”
Scotia-Glenville was successful after each of its three losses last year, capped by a 32-21 win over Class AA Ballston Spa in a crossover game. The Tartans dropped a 27-6 Class A quarterfinal game to Queensbury the week before.
“Winning at Ballston Spa, beating a Double A team. That was really huge,” said Scotia-Glenville junior linebacker Angelo Coppola. “That win was a springboard. It got guys in the weightroom. It was a great motivator.”
“It gave the team a good lift,” said junior defensive tackle Shannon Smith. “We know if we play hard, we’re capable of beating good teams.”
Dan Zeglen put the finishing touches on a solid sophomore season with four touchdown passes in the win over Ballston Spa. Tackle Nick Schaub is also back to anchor the offensive line after earning all-state honorable-mention honors as a junior.
“He’s an outstanding athlete, but even more, he provides character, leadership and poise,” Warren said of the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Zeglen, who helped lead the Tartans to the Section II Class A baseball final last spring. “He’s the full package.”
With the graduation of touchdown leaders Andrew Tabbert and Dontrevious Porter, Brown and senior slotback Jacob Goldman will take on significant offensive roles.
“Some teams see us and look by us,” said Goldman. “That’s something we don’t like, and it’s something that pushes us.”
Schalmont’s returning cast, led by all-state first-team running back Devon Willis and tackling machine Nick Gallo at linebacker, is motivated by last season’s 21-14 Super Bowl loss to Glens Falls. The Sabres had won 36 in a row against Section II Class B teams before the Indians cashed in on two turnovers as part of their first championship-game win since 1993.
Schalmont had beaten Glens Falls, 41-16, to open the season, when Willis ran for a school-record 352 yards and scored four of his 28 touchdowns.
“Our offseasons are always real good, but this one, there was a little more purpose,” said Joe Whipple. “Our kids have a little chip that they haven’t had in a long time.
“It was like the offseason after we lost in the state semifinals [in 2009),” he added. “We got to the [Cerrier] Dome the next year.”
The quest to return to Syracuse for the state finals will be spearheaded by Willis, who ran for 1,632 yards last season, and piled up 1,588 yards and scored 19 times as a sophomore. Gallo, Hunter Gac and Kyle Strube are capable runners, too, and will set up with line lettermen Marcus Ramundo, Dom Friello and Sean McDonald.
“Devon is pretty special. He’s physically imposing. He’s fast,” Whipple said. “We get everyone’s ‘A’ game, and he still does it.”
Albany Academy is hoping to do something big after last season’s late slide that included a loss to Queensbury, a loss to Lansingburgh that cost the Cadets a share of the Reinfurt Division title, and another setback against Glens Falls in the sectional quarters.
“We’re going to be deeper, stronger and better,” said Cadets coach Tony Fruscio. “We’ve got just about everyone coming back, and we had a great offseason. Our expectations are high.”
The group is led by quarterback Eric Woods, running back Austen Zeh, receiver Jelani Hoyte-King, linebacker Vince DiCaterino and three-year line starter Ahil Dawoodani.
“We have potential all-area players at quarterback, running back and on the line with Ahil,” said Fruscio.
Lansingburgh has the returning Reinfurt Division Player of the Year in senior tailback Anthony Walker, who rushed for 1,903 yards and scored 38 touchdowns. The Knights swept to the division title before Schuylerville upset them, 20-19, in the Class B quarters, when Walker ran for 220 yards and three TDs.
Lansingburgh has a new head coach in Jeff Pasinella.
“They lost a lot. They lost their quarterback and those 300-pound linemen, but they’ve got the returning player of the year,” Fruscio said of Lansingburgh. “They’re the favorite coming in because of that. Ravena also looks good. They’re young but they have football players.”
Johnstown is back in the Section II fold after calling off its 2012 season after three games due to a lack of players.
With a missed field goal in overtime and a good one that followed by Chatham’s Tyler VanBrunt, Mechanicville’s hopes for a Super Bowl berth were dashed with a 23-20 loss in last year’s Class C semifinals.
“We graduated some big-time athletes, but we have a bunch of quality kids back who were in the mix and contributed as freshmen and sophomores. We’re really excited about where we are,” said Mechanicville coach Kevin Collins. “We’ve got a good, young group. We’re not looking to take a step back. We’re looking to move forward.”
The Red Raiders will attempt to do that not only in the postseason, but beforehand in a Class C North Division that’s been ruled by Hoosick Falls every year since 2009.
Mechanicville lost in division play to Hoosick Falls in Week 1 and Stillwater in Week 6, and responded with wins over Hudson, then Watervliet in the secional quarters before its battle with Chatham.
“When we lost to Stillwater, it was the best thing that happened to us,” said Collins, whose team finished 6-3. “It woke us up, and we had a great run.”
Mechanicville’s small senior class is led by 6-foot-5, 320-pound lineman Dan Robens and receiver Noah Harpe. The underclassmen group includes new starting quarterback Brandon Russell, the running back/linebacker trio of Chase Delossantos, Chris Kawola and Chris Provanchero, and linemen Brandon Jourdanais and Brennan Flemming.
Hoosick Falls has won 40 consecutive games against Section II Class C teams, and followed up last year’s perfect area run with three more victories and the school’s first state championship. The Panthers lost only nine players to graduation, but several of them were major impact performers, including quarterback Billy Pine and running back Brad Burns, who shared state player of the year honors.
“Can they be as strong as the were the last two years? Only time will tell,” said Fonda-Fultonville coach Tom Carpenter. “They graduated a lot of kids, all-state kids, but they’re still at the top of the pack until us, Mechanicville, Chatham or someone else knocks them off. They’re still the class of Class C.”
Fonda-Fultonville will need a big performance from its guys up front to have a shot at attaining that label. Third-team all-state pick Tyler Cranker has transferred to Amsterdam, leaving center Zak Shaw, guard Steve Dunbar, tackle Matt Georgia and tight end Will Turner to lead the effort.
“We’re not real deep and we’re not real big, but the ones we have move pretty well,” said Carpenter. “We’ve got to stay healthy up front.”
The Braves bring back quarterback Russ Williams, rushing leader Pat Hart and touchdown leader Brandon Baker at wide receiver. At 6-foot-7, Turner can cause great havoc from his defensive end spot, and Shaw, Anthony Sinicropi and Josh Maybury give the Braves a solid linebacking group.
“A key will be how well we jell as a team,” said Carpenter. “As long as everyone cares about the team more than individual stuff, we have a good chance to have a successful season.”
Chatham edged Fonda-Fultonville for the South Division title last year and lost only to Hoosick Falls in the Class C final. VanBrunt is back to play quarterback, and Chatham also boasts all-state second-team linebacker Al Kelly.
Corinth has a new head coach in Chris Doody, while Brian Hoefer has taken over at Watervliet. The Cannoneers, with standout quarterback Taylor Dockstader and three-year line starter Scott Dennis, will play their home games at Lansingburgh due to construction at Watervliet.
Cairo-Durham is fielding a varsity again after calling off its 2012 and 2011 seasons due to low player numbers. Catholic Central has rejoined the Class C league after competing with the Class D group the last two years.
Schoburg coach Ken Meyer knows one thing for sure about Section II’s newest varsity team.
“These kids are battlers, and they’ll fight all the way. They don’t want to lose,” he said of his combined Schoharie and Duanesburg football team. “That’s a quality they have. They showed it when the storm came through. Same thing when we put them on the field.”
Late last season as a junior varsity team, Schoburg got the opportunity to line up against the varsity squads from Warrensburg and Green Tech. Schoburg lost to Warrensburg, 12-6, and to Green Tech, 18-12.
“We lost to Warrensburg in the last minute, and went four overtimes with Green Tech. Playing those games was great for us,” said Meyer. “I don’t think Section II would have let us go [varsity] so soon unless we showed we have the heart to play at that level.”
The Indian Eagles won six JV games and were awarded a pair of forfeit victories last season before those close calls. Their cast includes fullback Connor Brown, who led Schoharie’s basketball team in scoring last winter and pitched a no-hitter last spring, quarterback Colin Kenyon, 6-foot-4 receiver Drew Rice and two-way lineman Tom Hurd.
“Our goal is to get to the playoffs,” said Meyer, who has a varsity roster of 28 to go with 34 modified-level players. “If they do what they’re supposed to and stay committed, we’ll have a shot.”
Schoburg will make its Class D season debut Saturday against the league’s other two-school contingent in Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons/Saratoga Central Catholic. Schoharie students last competed in varsity football in 1976, while those from Duanesburg have never done so.
A lack of players kept Saratoga Catholic off the field in 2012, while Bishop Gibbons managed to scrape by in coach Tom Pallas’ final season, though it did forfeit a game against Cambridge due to low numbers brought on by injuries.
“We’ve got to stay healthy,” said NDBG/SCC coach John Barber. “With our numbers, we just don’t have a lot of depth.”
The 22-player roster includes offensive leaders Mike Niles at quarterback, David Haskell at running back and Zack Bell on the line. Linebackers Brendan Maloney and Jake Van Patten head up the defensive with end Eric Blanchard, a promising football newcomer.
“The kids we have are dedicated,” said Barber. “They want to play. They’ve put in the time.”
Bishop Gibbons/Saratoga Catholic and Schoburg are coupled in the South Division with reigning Class D champion Rensselaer and Cambridge, the Section II titlist the two previous seasons, as well as Canajoharie and Hoosic Valley.
Hoosic Valley is a Class C-sized school based on enrollment, and is not eligible for one of the division’s four available playoff spots.
Rensselaer has a league player of the year candidate in quarterback Steven Harwood, and North Division favorite Greenwich has another in running back John Barnes. A pair of North teams, Salem and Fort Edward, forfeited season openers with Schoburg and NDBG/SCC when they could not put the minimum required 16 players on the field for each preseason practice.