Troy and Hoosick Falls are Super Bowl bound
The Flying Horses (9-0) got a test from Gloversville Saturday afternoon, but a 28-13 was good enough to punch their ticket to the Class A Super Bowl against defending Section II champion Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (9-0) Saturday at Shenendehowa High School. Kickoff is set fot 7 p.m.
Jordan Canzeri finished with 269 yards on 27 carries. Teammate Shatiek Lewis added 100 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
"It’s just nice to get back to the big game and play Week 10," Troy High head coach Jack Burger told our Ryan Kircher. "You work too hard to only play nine games. It’s harder than people think."
At Stillwater High School, Hoosick Falls made a goal line stand midway through the fourth quarter to preserve its second consecutive postseason shutout, this one a 32-0 Class C semifinal victory over Granville.
Alex Hansen rushed for 208 yards and two touchdowns and junior QB Mike Brewster passed for 90 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 92 more and scored the Panthers' first touchdown on the ground.
Hoosick Falls (9-0) heads to its fourth Section II Super Bowl since 2003.
The Panthers looked a little lackadaisical in the first half, although they took a 13-0 lead into the locker room thanks to Hansen's long touchdown with under a minute to play in the second quarter. Head coach Ron Jones asked the players for more intensity and they delivered. Hansen scored on the third play of the third quarter and Logan O'Brien made an interception on Granville's ensuing drive, all but wrapping up the game for Hoosick Falls.
"We needed to turn the energy up," Jones said. "Even though we were up 13-0, it looked like we were run down or we were behind or something, I don’t know. We went in there and we asked for more and we pointed out the things we were doing right. Let’s just hustle a little bit more. We asked the sideline, the young kids, to get them pumped up and I think that always helps to hear the guys on the sidelines."
"The line just got more physical and saying ‘this is our game, we can’t lose it,’ Hansen said. "We got some motivation at halftime."
"In the playoffs, you always go back to fundamentals," said junior QB Mike Brewster. "You don’t get caught up in the hype. You stay disciplined and you stay focused. Granville is a hard-hitting team too. They’re a great team. They also made it here and I have to give a lot of respect to them."
Granville (7-2) won its first postseason game in school history last week at Fonda-Fultonville.
The Super Bowl was always the goal for the Panthers. That dream was what kept them working hard all winter and spring in the Panthers' impressive training center.
"We started in the weight room thinking about this and it didn’t seem like not to be an option," said senior two-way lineman Jake Colliano, who recovered the shutout-saving fumble on the Indians' two-yard line in the fourth quarter.
Read all about Troy and Hoosick Falls in Sunday's edition of The Record and make sure to check the print edition all week for Super Bowl preview stories, as well as continuing coverage of the Section II soccer and volleyball tournaments.
One more note about Hoosick Falls - the Panthers traveled very well Saturday afternoon (they had more fans than Lansingburgh had for a home game Friday night) and they even brought the pep band along. I hope they're able to make it to the Super Bowl next week as well.
Dear Troy High and Burnt Hills, please brings your bands to the Class A Super Bowl if you can. Those groups add to the atmosphere of the game and they are two of the best in Section II, at least from what my ears have heard.
In the meantime...
Friday, 7 p.m.
South Colonie High School
The Scotties have lost only once this year - a 17-14 defeat at Saratoga Springs in Week 6.
The Blue Streak have lost only once this year - a 21-16 defeat against La Salle eons ago in Week 1.
I have not seen either of these teams in person this year, but I can direct you to Nicole Russo's article on the Blue Streaks and Stan Hudy's story on the Scotties in Saturday's Saratogian.
I do know the Scotties keep it on the ground first and foremost - which could be a good thing if it's windy and cold Friday night. That could also be a bad thing should they fall behind early and need a quick strike to narrow the deficit.
I do know the Blue Streaks have a power run game spearheaded by Tony DeLoatch and Ford Plowman, and quarterback Luke Fauler has not eclipsed the 100-yard passing mark in a game yet this season.
Therefore, one would assume the battle will be won in the trenches. Who blocks better? Who can break through blocks and make solid form tackles on the ballcarrier?
It's going to be a good, hard-nosed football game with rivalry implications in a Super Bowl setting. You can't ask for more than that.
Saturday, 7 p.m.
Shenendehowa High School
Is this the game you've been waiting for?
For me, this is the hard-to-tell bowl because neither of these teams were tested very often in the regular season and it was hard to get a feel for each team's level of talent. Let's try to break it down by aspects of the game...
Rushing game: Advantage - Troy
Jordan Canzeri and Shatiek Lewis have been a two-man wrecking crew this season, combining for 2,187 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns on 191 attempts. (And Canzeri didn't carry the ball a single time last week in a game shortened by nine minutes due to thunder). Three times this season they've eclipsed the 100-yard mark in the same game.
Burnt Hills has done wonders on the ground too, but they don't have one (or two) go-to guys, it's more of a committee system that serves them well.
Passing game: Advantage - Burnt Hills
Phil Neumann (70-110-1,125-15-4) has done a great job for the Spartans this year, but he hasn't had to throw under pressure in the second half (or throw in the second half much at all).
Troy's Brian Marsh (26-39-412-6-1) has been very effective in limited bursts, but hasn't been asked the shoulder the load like Neumann has.
Burnt Hills wide receivers Keaton Flint and Tyler Paluba also got a ton of experience on the road to the state championship game last year, which also bodes well for the Spartans.
Defense: Advantage - even.
The Flying Horses famously posted five consecutive shutouts in the middle of the season (the scoreless streak stretched for 23 quarters) but that probably speaks to the relative weakness of the rest of Class A than it does to the ultimate talent of the Troy defense.
Burnt Hills has given up more total points, but a lot of those were late in games when second string teams were playing second string teams.
Special teams: Advantage - Burnt Hills
Both teams have excellent return men, Troy in Canzeri and Burnt Hills in Paluba.
I think you have to give Burnt Hills the slight edge in the kicking game, as Evan Nusbaum has been kicking the extra points all along and Troy has switched kickers a few times. Hey, this one could come down to the chip shot field shot, so it's not an insignificant edge.
And if you look at Burnt Hills' experience from the state championship run a year ago, they certainly have the edge there. But the Troy High coaching staff is absolutely tremendous - every one of them could be a head coach somewhere else - and the Burnt Hills staff is great, too....
Either way, it has all the dressing to be the game of the year and we will find out soon enough.
Saturday, 1 p.m.
Schenectady High School
You are guaranteed to see plenty of running in this game, as Schalmont's Vince Gallo had another great year for the Sabres while Tyrone Nichols, Zaquawn Gordon and Terrance Kemp split the duties in the Knights' backfield this season.
The wrinkle this year for Lansingburgh? They added an effective passing game in senior QB T.J. McLaughlin, making them a double-threat.
I've haven't seen Schalmont in person, so I can't vouch too much for or against what they do, but they're going to need a lot more than just Gallo's legs to be working in this game. Friday night, Lansingburgh allowed 304 rushing yards and four touchdowns to Hudson Falls' Dakota Drake (Lansingburgh PA announcer Rich Sheffer gave him his very well-deserved recognition after the game) but the Knights still won by 17 points.
Lansingburgh will likely be without Jake Shaw and Mark Tracey for another week, but they survived one game without them and the fill-ins got a good dose of experience.
The Knights were the big, bad boys dropping down from Class A at the beginning of the season and heading into Week 10, they are still the heavy favorites to walk away with their fifth Section II Super Bowl title this decade.
Saturday, 7 p.m.
Stillwater High School
If the Class C playoffs did one thing, they whittled the field down to absolutely the two best teams in the classification this season.
Chatham relies on Josh Keyes and an offense built on misdirection and deception - giving the ball to a powerful running back is certainly a plus - while Hoosick Falls runs that spread option and you know it's either Alex Hansen or Mike Brewster taking off on nearly every play.
Both defenses will certainly have their hands full.
What does Hoosick Falls have to do to stop Keyes? The first thing is that the Hoosick Falls tacklers have to bring him down on first contact. Arm tackles are not going to cut it and they cannot give Keyes opportunities for second bursts of speed because he will break off for long touchdown runs.
What does Chatham have to do to stop Hansen and Brewster? I think Hoosick Falls would be content to get four or five yards an attempt in this game, try to control the clock and keep Keyes off the field. That's the strength of this type of offense, that it relies on Brewster's read of the defensive end as to what he does with the ball, tuck it or hand it off. Certain selective blitzes could trap one of the two in the backfield, but Brewster can throw the ball, so even a third-and-long isn't the end of the world for Hoosick Falls. Kevin McMahon, Logan O'Brien, Greg Stifter and Tanner Williams have all had big catches this season, and that pass game is something Chatham lacks.
All eyes are on the defenses here because both of these teams have all but scored at will against everyone else. Can you give Chatham an instant edge because of their larger margin of victory over a common opponent in Cambridge? Perhaps. Still, Hoosick Falls has posted consecutive playoff shutouts, which must give them some confidence into thinking they can stop Keyes, but up to this point, no team has accomplished that goal.
Saturday, 1 p.m.
Glens Falls High School
These teams played many moons ago, when Rensselaer won 20-7 in Week 1. Not counting Rensselaer's loss at Hoosick Falls, it was their closest game of the year...but it was so long ago, I don't think it carries much weight in a Super Bowl comparison two months later.
The Rams have plenty of things in their favor. A great running game with Nate Butler, Jashem Hamilton and Mico Do Los Santos and an effective, if little used, passing game led by junior QB Timmy Foust. Defensively, Butler, Hamilton and De Los Santos are three of the most ferocious hitters in all of Section II, and they've punished backs like Lake George's Caleb Meroski and Bishop Gibbons' Derrick Pitts.
As defending Section II Class D champs, the Rams also have that valuable experience of traveling to Glens Falls - they took a few school buses packed with fans last year, will they do it again? - and the belief that they are expected to repeat and atone for their loss in the New York State regionals a year ago.
I would be shocked to see the Rams lose, but a close game wouldn't surprise me at all. But for all the aforementioned reasons, I think the Rams have the edge in almost every scenario late in a tight game.
PS - Admission to all Section II Super Bowls is $6.