Saturday, September 19, 2009

Go, Mico, go; Rams respond to criticism

Who knew The Record's weekly high school football picks chart could create so much controversy?

Three of our staff members picked Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons this week over Rensselaer - the New York State Sportswriters Association also ranked Gibbons ahead of Rensselaer in the initial Class D poll - which led Rams running back Mico De Los Santos to pose me this question when I approached him after the game:

"Who did you pick? I'm not talking to you if you picked them!"

De Los Santos took the picks to heart and let it all pour out on the field, gaining 278 all-purpose yards in a 49-14 statement victory over the Golden Knights.

The Rams proved themselves to be top dogs in Class D - at least for now. Their next big game is at Class C opponent Hoosick Falls on Friday, Oct. 2, which will give us a really good idea of the talent level of this Rams team.

Still, Saturday's victory over another undefeated Class D power meant a great deal to the Rams, especially in light of the public snubbings.

"The only reason it was big was because of what the paper has been saying," De Los Santos said. "All these people picked them to win. They shouldn’t have picked them. We got hyped off of that. Everybody got mad. We weren’t even going to talk to any papers. Everyone was saying that. It really was a big game and we made a big statement."

De Los Santos leaps over Bishop Gibbons' Ryan Maxwell during Saturday's game at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons High School. (Photos by J.S. Carras - The Record).

"It was definitely a big game," said Rensselaer head coach Joel Preston. "The kids read into those state rankings that really don’t mean anything. They saw Gibbons ranked above us and they got a little chippy."

Preston also wished to clear the air about a controversial fourth quarter play. The Rams held a big lead and had the ball on Bishop Gibbons' 32-yard line late in the game. Rensselaer sent out the punting team, only to have the punter attempt a fake and pass the ball toward the end zone.
It fell incomplete, but Preston insisted the Rams were not trying to run up the score.

The Rams practice a play, as does every team in the area, where they send a gunner out to the sideline in punting situations. If left uncovered, the punter throws to a wide-open receiver running down the sideline.

The Rams players did what they practiced, no harm meant.

"I didn’t call that play on the fake fourth down," Preston said. "I had every intention of punting and giving them the ball, pinning the ball deep and letting the clock run. That’s an automatic read, where if no one is on him, we practice that and he throws it automatically. I certainly don’t want to run the score up on anybody."

De Los Santos practices his Heisman Trophy pose during Saturday's Class D game against Bishop Gibbons.

I was also impressed with junior lineman Jason Brown, who addressed the team after the game. Although the Rams passed only three times - Timmy Foust was a perfect 3-for-3 for 98 yards and a touchdown - Brown praised the line for keeping Foust's jersey an unblemished white.

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