Monday, December 21, 2009

Top 10 stories of 2009: No. 8 - Troy High football posts five straight shutouts

This was a common sight for offenses facing Troy's defense during the early stages of the 2009 season. The Flying Horses posted five consecutive shutouts and stretched that streak for 24 straight quarters. Kyle Geraci (44), Stephaun Grinage (31) and Dorrel Williams (17) make the tackle against an Amsterdam running back in the above picture.

One of the most intriguing high school football mid-season storylines was the Troy High defense posting five consecutive shutouts.

The Flying Horses allowed a touchdown to Queensbury in the first quarter of their first game and didn't allow another point until the second quarter of Week 7. It was an amazing accomplishment, of course, for the starting defense, but let's consider a number of other factors that made this remarkable.

First, the Troy offense was also very proficient, meaning the Troy coaching staff often pulled the starters in the third and fourth quarters. So, the second and third team defenses were also getting the job done.

Second, it only takes a block here and a block there for a kickoff or punt returner to squeeze his way past the kicking team into the end zone. And with all of the points the Flying Horses scored during the streak - 310, to be exact - that is a whole lot of kickoffs that have to be defended.

Third, the offense never created a turnover that led into points. An interception returned for a touchdown is rare, but even a fumble deep in their own territory could have doomed the Flying Horses. And for five straight weeks, they never let a single mistake like that to happen.

From left to right, linebacker Kyle Geraci, and defensive linemen David Jabour and Dorrel Williams were crucial to the success of the Troy defense.

To be fair, the Flying Horses were not facing the toughest part of their schedule during the shutout run.

Sept. 12, TROY 50, Amsterdam 0
Sept. 18, Troy 67, SCOTIA-GLENVILLE 0
Sept. 26, TROY 53, Mohonasen 0
Oct. 3, TROY 54, Averill Park 0
Oct. 9, Troy 49, BISHOP MAGINN 0

(Home team in CAPS)

The final combined record of those teams? 10-32.

Still, to not allow a single point over a five week stretch is an incredible accomplishment when you think of all the little ways a football team can make a mistake that results in the other team scoring points. Credit Troy head coach Jack Burger (pictured below) and defensive coordinator Bob Burns for having their team prepared for everything every single week.


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Another midseason story that deserves mention is the Cardiac Cats comebacks at Cohoes.

Four times on their home Alumni Field, the Cohoes Tigers rallied from a deficit to post victories.


Anthony Fogarty (pictured below) scored 1.2 seconds before halftime and added two more scores in the second half as the Tigers rallied from a 14-0 deficit to topple the Indians.


Perhaps the wildest of the Tigers' victories, Cohoes scored with 1:22 remaining but failed to convert a two-point try and trailed 22-20.
Josh LeMay's onside kickoff worked and Josh Floeser hit Darnell Rafalko on a 50-yard pass with 46 seconds to play with lift Cohoes to the 26-22 victory.

Oct. 8
Cohoes 33, Albany Academy 26 (OT)

It was a battle for second place in the Reinfurt Division, but Fogarty played big in the clutch yet again. He scored the eventual game-winning touchdown in overtime but needed to sack Albany Academy quarterback Hunter McCarthy on the Cadets' ensuing possession to seal the deal.

Defense led the way in this comeback, which came in the quarterfinals of the Section II Class B playoffs. Tommy Durrant returned a blocked punt for a touchdown, Josh LeMay returned an interception for a score - the first interception of his career - and Fogarty rushed for three scores as the Tigers clawed their way back from a 14-point deficit to advance to the Class B semifinals for the second consecutive season.

--
The Flying Horses were a steamroller and the Tigers were a rollercoaster, but either way, local football fans were guaranteed to see something special any time either team took the field in 2009.

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