Thursday, September 17, 2009

Five potential Super Bowl previews this weekend

Not only do we get three nights of football this weekend, we also get a potential Section II Super Bowl matchup in each class. There are still five weeks to go in the regular season, so plenty of things may change, but many teams are playing coin-toss, 50-50, either way games this weekend.

With Divisional play beginning in Class AA, A and B this weekend, some teams that got off to a poor start have a quick shot at redemption with a first place tie after one victory. That should lead to a very interesting Averill Park-Bishop Maginn game Thursday night, since both teams were blown out last week.

Class AA
Shen at Ballston Spa, Thursday, 7 p.m.
The Plainsmen lucked out with a controversial win over Schenectady last weekend and can get a leg up in the Empire Division. The Scotties, however, look like the real deal, romping to early victories over Columbia and Bethlehem, keeping their starters fresh by removing them late in the games.

Shenendehowa senior Suhayb Banks sheds a Shaker tackler in a Week 1 contest. Banks was injured in a Week 2 game against Schenectady. He has a torn ACL and is likely out for the year. (Photo by J.S. Carras - The Record).

Both these teams run the ball with authority, which bodes well for postseason weather. La Salle and Schenectady like to throw the ball a little bit, which makes their run at another Super Bowl matchup a bit more challenging.
A prediction: Ballston Spa 35, Shen 14.

Don't forget: La Salle and Schenectady.

Class A
Gloversville at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Friday, 7 p.m.
This is quickly becoming one of the area's best rivalries, not only for the quality of football, but for the backstory between these two communities with no natural bond.
Burnt Hills head coach Matt Shell and Gloversville head coach Tom Ciaccio played together on Gloversville teams in the late 1980s, and now face off on opposite sidelines.
With Amsterdam looking like a first round flop type of team through two weeks, the winner of this game likely takes the Division II title and homefield advantage in the playoffs.
PS - Section II coaches will wear "Shellstrong" shirts this weekend for Shell and his family. Section II coaches raised over $5,000 through the sale of shirts to players and fans, as well.
A prediction: Burnt Hills 42, Gloversville 21.

Don't forget: Troy.

Class B
Cohoes at Lansingburgh, Friday, 7 p.m.
The Knights were just named the No. 1 team in the state this week, but they have something to prove against No. 18 Cohoes Friday night. The Tigers won the Reinfurt Division last year - went undefeated, in fact, until the Class B semifinals - and will be throwing everything they have against their long-lost gridiron rival. The teams have not played since 2005.

Cohoes lineman Mike Jackson was a jack-of-all-trades last year on the offensive side of the ball, but he's settled into a two-way starting role in his senior season. (Photos by J.S. Carras - The Record).

Expect a lot of passing in this one, too. Lansingburgh's T.J. McLaughlin and Cohoes' Josh Floeser both love to light up the skies as a changeup to each team's powerful running game.
A prediction: Lansingburgh 20, Cohoes 7

Don't forget: Albany Academy, Hudson.

Cohoes senior quarterback Josh Floeser is also expecting to have a big game in the defensive backfield for the Tigers Friday night in Lansingburgh.

Class C
Chatham at Fonda-Fultonville, Saturday, 1 p.m.
These teams fall outside our coverage area, but they're two of the best and will certainly wind up fighting it out for the South Division title.
Fonda loves to pass and Chatham loves to run - just look at Josh Keyes, the Section II scoring leader. It will be a clash of styles out on top of the hill in Fonda, but the winner makes a claim for being the best team in the South Division, if not all of Class C.
Circle Friday, Oct. 9 on your calendar, because that is when Cambridge travels to Hoosick Falls for a similar North Division showdown.
A prediction: Chatham 21, Fonda 20.

Don't forget: Hoosick Falls, Cambridge

Class D
Rensselaer at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons, Saturday, 1 p.m.
The Rams escaped in a rainy game Week 1 last season against the Golden Knights, but they'll have a much tougher task against an improved team on Saturday afternoon.
Derrick Pitts does it all for Gibbons, passing and running the ball, but Rob Redman is also an interesting player, a great place kicker and wide receiver.
The Rams, on the other hand, spread the ball around between a number of talented playmakers. Jashem Hamilton and Nate Butler lead the power running attack, while quarterback Timmy Foust has his pick of receivers in Mico De Los Santos and Chris Britt.
A prediction: Rensselaer 28, Bishop Gibbons 20

Don't forget: Lake George, Greenwich.

After learning that this might be the last season for the New York State Sportswriters Association, here is the latest installment in our 'don't take your sports for granted' series.
Sports Illustrated has a piece on Grove City, Ohio, and the decision there to suspend ALL extra-curricular activities, including the high school's football team that averaged more than 11,000 fans per game.

Could it happen here? Remember, the NYSPHSAA has already limited the number of games basketball, baseball and softball teams can play, beginning this year. Some schools, such as Tamarac, have already chopped most of their assistant coaching positions to free up money in the school budget to buy books and supplies, pay teacher salaries and simply keep the lights on.

For the boxing fans out there, Pugnacious Promotions has scheduled a fight for Friday, Oct. 23 at McDonough Sports Complex at Hudson Valley Community College.
Shawn Miller, Mike Faragon, Kimdo Bethel and Brian Miller are among the local fighters on the card - but we'll see how many fans show up on a high school football Friday night, the first week of the playoffs.



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