Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Kickoff 2010: A look ahead at the upcoming high school football season

Catholic Central High School football players run through a drill during 2009 training camp. (Photo by J.S. Carras - The Record).

The Section II high school football season is just one month away, so I thought I would get the discussion going with a quick season preview post. I've tried to leave you with at least one storyline facing each team in Section II for the upcoming season and written more on the teams I know about in detail.

The Record will publish a 48-page preview section for the second consecutive year. It will be stuck inside your newspaper on Thursday, September 2 and will feature stories, pictures, rosters and statistics from 21 of the local high school teams, as well as a number of columns and feature stories.

I will also plan on one post (and a video) on the blog per day from the first day of practice (August 16) through September 2 with extra notes and pictures from each training camp I visit.

What do you want to read about? What's the biggest story this season? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below or shoot me an email. If I've missed any coaching changes below, please let me know. 
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Class AA
Defending champion: Saratoga Springs
New teams in '10: Troy High, Niskayuna
Teams moved out to other classifications: None
Coaching changes: Joe Burke (Christian Brothers Academy), Jon McClement (Albany High), Greg Sheeler (Shaker).
Returning All-State players: Jordan Canzeri (RB, Sr., Troy High, third team), Bronson Greene (RB, Sr., Shenendehowa, fourth team), Shatiek Lewis (RB, Sr., Troy High, fourth team).
Best Week One game in '10: Troy High at La Salle, Friday, Sept. 3, 7 p.m.

Liberty Division

The biggest news in Class AA in 2010 is the addition of Troy High to the large-school field. The Flying Horses rode Jordan Canzeri and Shatiek Lewis to the Section II Class A Super Bowl last year, losing to eventual New York State runner-up Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake. Canzeri and Lewis return as seniors in 2010, providing Troy High with perhaps the best one-two running back punch of any team in the area. Troy will have six returning starters on each side of the ball. Defense was also a strong suit for the Flying Horses last year. Troy posted five consecutive shutouts at one point during the regular season. Brian Marsh (QB), Ian Blair (WR) and Kyle Geraci (FB/LB) are just some of the key players returning for Troy.

Troy's Jordan Canzeri bursts for a touchdown run during the 2009 season. (Photo by Mike McMahon - The Record).

The Flying Horses will renew their Collar City Cup rivalry with La Salle on Friday, Sept. 3 at Sutton Field. La Salle won't have many familiar faces back from the 2009 season since the Cadets were senior-heavy a season ago. Backup quarterback Garrett DeLory played well in limited time when starter Mike Murray went down with an injru midway through the 2009 season, so that bodes well for La Salle.

Shaker appears to be energized upon the arrival of new head coach Greg Sheeler, who had spent the previous three seasons as an assistant in the Shaker program. A former quarterback at Gloversville High and Ithaca College, Sheeler will likely spark the Blue Bison's passing game along with senior quarterback Ben Capeless. A number of the Bison skill players return, including senior running back Conor Alund. Shaker made an appearance in the championship game of Cohoes' Tiger Shootout 7-on-7 passing tournament...but they'll also need some lineman to block once the real season begins.

Colonie will certainly see plenty of turnover in the starting lineup from 2009. Davion Brink and Kyle Robustiano are two of the few returning skill players. 

Columbia lost do-it-all superstar Alex Tesoriero to graduation, but will have a pretty solid core of veterans returning alongside second-year head coach Drew Romanowski. Jake Wronoski, a fullback and linebacker, was named captain as a junior.

Schenectady played on a brand-new turf field in 2009 and the Patriots completed a second straight successful season, this time under first-year head coach Jim Kramer. Quarterback Timmy Cox will be a senior in 2010 and is likely to keep the Patriots in Super Bowl contention yet again. Isaiah Earing (TE/LB), D'Metri Gilbert (RB/LB) and Mister Taylor (RB/DB) will also look to keep the Schenectady program on a hot streak.

Niskayuna kept pace in Class A a season ago thanks to the exploits of do-it-all player Ryan Alden, but Class AA could be a different challenge for the Silver Warriors.  

Empire Division

Shenendehowa also figures to pose an offensive threat with senior Bronson Greene, who became an All-State caliber player after Suhayb Banks went down with an injury early in the year, opening up rushing opportunities for Greene. Brent Steuerwald, the one and only coach in Shenendehowa history, won his 300th career game last season.

Christian Brothers Academy will have a new head coach this season in Joe Burke, but they'll have a pretty familiar roster with many players returning. Quarterback Casey Crotty will be a senior, as will skill players Elijah Dukes, Trey Williams and Max Weaver. Ras-I Grady, a senior, will be among the returners anchoring the lines.

Albany suffered through an 0-9 season in 2009, but new head coach Jon McClement will hope to right the ship in 2010.

Saratoga Springs defeated Ballston Spa in last year's Super Bowl. The Blue Streaks lost a good deal of players to graduation, but the Scotties will also be hard-pressed to make up for the loss of longtime quarterback and defensive back Mark Seager.

Guilderland quarterback Ryan Smith was the area's second-leading passer in 2009 (I had him finishing two yards behind Hoosick Falls quarterback Mike Brewster, who played in a few more games than did Smith...) completing 135 of 240 passing attempts for 1,649 yards and 16 touchdowns against seven interceptions. He looks like the top returning thrower in Section II, but the question remains: Who will his targets be in 2010?

Bethlehem was led last season by running back Casiem Maxwell, who rushed for 1,266 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior. The Eagles, who will not play under the lights at home this season, opting for Saturday games instead, will need to replace Maxwell in the backfield if they wish to keep up in the Liberty Division.


Class A
Defending champion: Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake
New teams in '10: Lansingburgh
Teams moved out to other classifications: Troy High (AA), Niskayuna (AA)
Coaching changes: Jared Bongo (Gloversville)

Returning All-State players: Anthony Fogarty (RB/LB, Sr. Cohoes in 2009, Lansingburgh 2010, second team Class B in '09), Mark Tracey (OL, Sr., Lansingburgh, third team), Sr., Keaton Flint (WR, Sr., Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, fourth team), Evan Nusbaum (K, Sr., Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, fourth team).
Best Week One game in '10: Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake at Lansingburgh, Friday, Sept. 3, 7 p.m.

Northwest Division

Amsterdam had another disappointing season in 2009, finishing in second-to-last place in the division. With the support the Rugged Rams get in that town, however, they can never be counted out in preseason talk.

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake has advanced to the New York State championship game two years running and the Spartans are showing no signs of letting up, especially with Troy High now in Class AA. Keaton Flint, Evan Nusbaum and Brandon Beatty are among the key players slated to return for Burnt Hills in 2010. The Spartans will get a strong non-division contest right off the bat when they travel to Lansingburgh in Week One.

Glens Falls' season came to an end in 2009 at the hands of Troy High in the first round of the Class A playoffs when lightning forced to game to be called with much of the fourth quarter left to play. Dan LaNoir paced Glens Falls with 362 rushing yards in 2009.

Gloversville will have a new coach this year after Tom Ciaccio stepped aside, opening a door for Jared Bongo. Chad McCloskey (1,134 yards, 14 TDs) was one of Section II's top passing quarterbacks last season, but the Huskies will need to replace him if they want to be considered a legitimate contender in Class A. Cam Oathout figures to get a shot at quarterback and captain Tyler Capparello is a returning offensive guard and linebacker.

Queensbury finished 5-4 in 2009, scoring 225 points and allowing just 156. Sean McAllister, a senior in '09, was named Northwest Division first team quarterback. Tony Fusco, a rising junior, has a Facebook page in his honor named Tony Fusco is going to play pro football.

South Glens Falls went winless in division play a season ago, but finished 3-6 overall. Jordan Greene, who is also an excellent basketball player, returns for his senior season under center.

Southeast Division

Averill Park struggled to a 3-5 record last year, but they have a strong group of players returning under second-year head coach Zach Gobel, who loves to run a fast-paced spread offense. Quarterback Ryan Macari could be poised for a big year if Averill Park can provide solid line play in front of him. Tyler Dunworth could take a majority of the carries and Sid Sharpe, Tyler Listing, Brian Hardy and Matt Joe could be Macari's main targets through the air.

Bishop Maginn lost senior running back Tymear Mallory to graduation. He ran for 1,363 yards and 11 touchdowns a season ago. The game of the year for the Golden Griffins may come against a Class B school, Albany Academy, in a non-league clash at Academy on Saturday, Oct. 2 at 1:30 p.m. Wideout Isaiah Phillips and lineman Cliff Graves will likely be the team's veteran leaders.

Lansingburgh returns to Class A this year and they've reloaded in a big way, snagging fiery running back and lineback Anthony Fogarty, a transfer from Cohoes. Ryan McGrath figured to be the Knights' starting quarterback this year, but he decided to focus on baseball year-round, opening a door for rookie Carlos Grillo. He has started just one game under center in his career (last year on JV) but looked pretty darn good in the Tiger Shootout at Cohoes a few weeks ago. Lansingburgh also has Mark Tracey back on the line, although he is still hobbled a bit by a knee injury sustained last football season. Tight end Blake Mosley adds a blacking and receiving threat for the Knights, who are poised for another strong season this fall.

Anthony Fogarty has brought his talents to Lansingburgh this season and he figures to be a major running, catching and tackling star for the Knights in 2010. (Photo by Tom Killips - The Record).


Mohonasen was winless a season ago, mustering just 74 points scored against 223 allowed.

Scotia-Glenville went 2-3 in the division last season, but lost all four non-division games it played, finishing 2-7.

Class B
Defending champion Schalmont
New teams in '10: Schuylerville, Cairo-Durham
Teams moved out to other classifications: Lansingburgh (A)
Coaching changes: none

Returning All-State players: Luke Albrecht (OL, Sr., Hudson Falls, third team), Zay Richardson (RB/DB, Sr., Albany Academy, fourth team).

Best Week One game in '10: Cohoes vs. Schalmont at Union College, Friday, Sept. 3, 7 p.m.

Reinfurt Division

Albany Academy got off to a great start in 2009, winning its first four games in a row. The Cadets, however, ended 2009 with a thud, dropping four straight to end the season. Senior running back Zay Richardson returns, having rushed for 1,074 yards and 22 touchdowns as a junior. Quarterback Hunter McCarthy, a junior, will return for his third season under center. The Cadets were strong on the lines last year in addition to their skill players and that has to be concern No. 1 at Academy this season. Who makes the blocks and the tackles? Jasiri Currie (RB/DB) and Mory Gueye (OL/DL) will also look to contribute this season.

Albany Academy senior Zay Richardson is one of the best returning running backs in Section II for the 2010 season. (Photo by Tom Killips - The Record).

Cairo-Durham slides up to Class B after playing in Class C in 2009. The move may do them good, as the Mustangs finished 1-5 in the Class C South Division and were 2-6 overall a year ago.

Cohoes will certainly be facing some major challenges in 2010. They lost most of last year's team, which advanced to the Section II Class B semifinals for the second straight season. Anthony Fogarty, who led the team in nearly every statistical category on both sides of the ball last season as a junior, took his talents to the east bank of the Hudson River, transferring to Lansingburgh. The Tigers will play Lansingburgh in a non-league game on Saturday, Sept. 18 at Cohoes at 1:30 p.m. (unless Cohoes turns this into its annual night game). It won't count in the standings, but it will be a fun game that will certainly give the Tigers a barometer of where they stand among Class B's elite teams. Kyle Farley, Dustin Hallock and Brett Mollnow will be major players for Cohoes this season.

Hudson was led by quarterback Talib Barksdale last season, who shared Reinfurt Division MVP honors with Lansingburgh's T.J. McLaughlin. The Bluehawks had a tendency to play high-scoring games last season, so we will see if the defense tightens up any in 2010.

Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk stumbled a bit in 2009, going 0-4 in the division, but the Indians always played it pretty close, allowing 214 points and scoring 187. Devin Clark, a first team Reinfurt Division defensive lineman as a junior in 2009, will lead the Indians on the inside this season. Sam Spence, Cory Watts and quarterback Tyler Swart, who will be a sophomore in 2010, will be among the Indians' other key players.

West Division

Broadalbin-Perth scored the upset of the year in the regular season, beating Lansingburgh in Troy late in the regular season in 2009. The Knights, however, got their revenge in the first round of the playoffs, right back on Lansingburgh's home field. Quarterback R.J. Pingitore was just a sophomore last year and will be the focal point on what should be an exciting Patriots offense in 2010.Cody Menge, a rising senior, is a punishing runner.

Cobleskill-Richmondville finished 2-2 in division play last year, but was 2-7 overall.

Hudson Falls saw Dakota Drake led the team in rushing last season with 1,077 yards on 147 carries in 2009. He had a tremendous game at Lansingburgh last year and stands to get the lion's share of the carries in 2010, making the Tigers a team that is a threat based on his skills alone. Quarterback Aaron Dudley and All-State lineman Luke Albrecht are also slated to return.

Johnstown's Adam Biron was one of 11 Section II quarterbacks to pass for over 1,000 yards last season (99-of-206 for 1,112 yards). Biron, however, was a senior in 2009, so the Sir Bills will need to find a capable replacement if they hope to be as proficient through the air.

Schalmont's bad news in 2010 is that all-world running back/quarterback Vince Gallo will no longer be playing for the team, but the Sabres do return a strong crop of players with Section II Super Bowl rings in their pockets. Jaren Ramundo may get the lion's share of the carries in Gallo's absence and Dalton LaTulipe and J.J. Murphy, like Ramundo, also captains as juniors, give Schalmont a good backbone in 2010.

Schuylerville makes the leap to Class B after a disappointing season in Class C in 2009, entering that year as one of the hopefuls to win a Section II title. Brad Lyon and Austin Bateman, the focal points of the Schuylerville teams of the last few years, have graduated, meaning this will be a big rebuilding year for the Black Horses' program. Still, the jump up to Class B could actually help this team compared to the talent-packed tops of the divisions in Class C.

Independent

Ichabod Crane will again play all Class C schools as it adapts to the varsity level in Section II. The Riders will be ineligible for postseason play in 2010 regardless of their record.

Class C
Defending champion: Hoosick Falls
New teams in '10: Greenwich, Lake George
Teams moved out to other classifications: Cairo-Durham (B), Schuylerville (B), Cambridge (D)
Coaching changes: none 

Returning All-State players: Mike Brewster (Sr., QB, Hoosick Falls, second team), Josh Keyes (Sr., RB/FS, Chatham, second team), James Currier (Sr. WR, Voorheesville, fourth team), Ryan McFee (WR, Sr., Greenwich, third team Class D in 2009).

Best Week One game in '10: Lake George at Tamarac, Friday, Sept. 3, 7 p.m.


North Division

Corinth loses do-it-all quarterback sensation Jordan Charbonneau, who scampered for 1,791 yards and 19 touchdowns a season ago. The Tomahawks should still figure in the playoff race in the North Division, but only the top four teams advance to the postseason.

Granville enjoyed a fantastic season in 2009, seeing it end in the Section II Class C semifinals against Hoosick Falls on a very windy day at Stillwater High School's brand-new turf field.  The Golden Horde have had a nice group of athletes move through the school in recent years, also excelling on the baseball diamond and the basketball court. Do the underclassmen moving up this year have what it takes to keep the tradition alive? Quarterback Jamie Hicks is one of the Horde's key returners.

Greenwich slides up to Class C after playing in the Class D Super Bowl last season. Like Granville, the Witches have been successful in baseball, appearing in the NYS Class C Final Four this past spring. Ryan McFee is a returning All-State wideout and Tyler Pruiksma, who led the team in rushing last year, also returns. Quarterback Tony Giroux will enter his junior year. The Witches have the talent to make a run at the playoffs in 2010, but Class C is going to be a much bigger challenge for them than Class D was.

Hoosic Valley saw some of its first-wave players graduate in 2009, so the Indians are now entering a second generation of football players after starting the program in 2006. The Indians have been making steady progress over the years and are hoping to clinch the first playoff berth in school history. Anthony Brundidge and Ron Morelo figure heavily in the Indians' plans in 2010.

Hoosick Falls is poised for another big year behind senior quarterback Mike Brewster and fiery little lineman/linebacker Garrett Foster. The Panthers will have some holes to fill, as Alex Hansen, who rushed for 1,575 yards and 25 touchdowns last year, has graduated, along with wideout/defensive end Kevin McMahon. Still, a number of talented underclassmen such as Tanner Williams return, making the Panthers the odds-on favorite in the North Division...at least in the preseason. Hoosick Falls defeated Chatham on a last-second field goal in the Section II Class C Super Bowl, advancing to the NYS semifinals against Bronxville, losing that game, 28-27.

Mike Brewster (left) and Tanner Williams (right) will be two of the major players on both sides of the ball for Hoosick Falls in 2010. (Photo by J.S. Carras - The Record).

Lake George slides up to Class C after spending the past few years in Class D. Running back Caleb Meroski, who ran for 1,338 yards last season, has graduated, meaning the Warriors will need to turn to someone else on the ground attack.

Mechanicville had a pretty solid regular season in 2009. finishing 4-2 in the division and 6-3 overall. Still, that wasn't enough to qualify for the postseason as Corinth edged the Red Raiders for the final playoff spot. The Red Raiders also have many holes to fill in 2010, including the replacements of quarterback Nick Gaetano and running back David Guynup. John Abele will likely be the Raiders' most experienced returning skill player in the backfield.

Stillwater struggled through its first season on its brand-new artificial turf field, finishing 0-7 in the division and 1-7 overall. Aaron Tanner and Nick Dunn figure to be key players for the Warriors in '10.

Tamarac returns senior lineman Wade Hansen and quarterback Nick Casale as well as Tyler Larvie and Nick Feldmaier. The Bengals were a very young team last year and finished the 2009 season on a strong note even though they did not qualify for the postseason. They'll have high hopes for clinching a playoff berth in 2010.

South Division

Canajoharie loses quarterback Peyton Stahler and running back Dylan Slater, so the Cougars will have some rebuilding to do in 2010 after successful seasons in 2008 (Class D) and 2009 (Class C).

Catholic Central High School is hoping to improve in its second year under head coach Carm Audino. The Crusaders finished 1-5 in the division and 2-6 overall last year and also graduated a good deal of seniors. CCHS always faces the tough task of playing with a small roster, so it will be interesting to see how quickly a new group of players can come together in training camp in August.

Chatham will return Josh Keyes, who many coaches feel is a legitimate Division I prospect in the defensive backfield. Not only is he a punishing hitter from the free safety position, he's simply the most explosive running back in Section II on the Class C level. He ran for 1,994 yards and 36 touchdowns last season, so a 2,000-yard season is certainly not out of the question for him. I don't think anyone would be surprised if Hoosick Falls and Chatham met in the Section II Class C Super Bowl for the second straight year. Senior quarterback Tanner Niles will return, but the Panthers have a great deal of replacing to do on the offensive and defensive lines.

Coxsackie-Athens was winless in division play a season ago, finishing 0-6 in league play and 1-6 overall.

Fonda-Fultonville will join the Colonial Council in every other sport this season, but they'll obviously stick in Class C in the classification-type regular season play Section II football uses. The Braves finished one game behind Chatham in the regular season in 2009 and figure to challenge for the division title again, along with Voorheesville. Seth Hidde, a senior, guided the Braves' high-octane passing attack in 2009, but he graduated this spring, meaning Fonda will need to find another gunslinger if they wish to keep up their pass-happy gameplan. Luke Nethaway, a tight end last season, could play a new role in 2010.

Taconic Hills the Titans lost 11 seniors to graduation, but running back Chris McKay, who had a number of high-yardage games in 2009, returns as a senior.

Voorheesville played with just seven seniors in 2009, so the Blackbirds could have one of the most experienced teams returning in all of Section II. Quarterback Ryan Duncan returns with skill players James Currier, Max Shuster and Mike Noland. They'll need to prove they can compete with Chatham and Fonda, but look for the Blackbirds to be closer to the top of the standings than the bottom when everything shakes out.


Watervliet got off to a great start in 2009 but stumbled at the end when they faced some of the best teams in its division. The good news is that the Cannoneers do have some key players coming back in senior running back Ryan Manning and junior quarterback Brandon Legault. They will need to replace some linemen, but Watervliet is certainly in contention for a playoff spot in the South Division, at the very least.

Class D
Defending champion: Rensselaer
New teams in '10: Cambridge
Teams moved out to other classifications: Saratoga Catholic (dropped program), Greenwich (C), Lake George (C).
Coaching changes: none
Returning All-State players: Jesse Lybert (WR, Sr., Cambridge, first team Class C in '09), Tim Pompa (Sr., K, Saratoga Catholic, second team).
Best Week One game in '10: Bishop Gibbons at Cambridge, Saturday, Sept. 4, 1 p.m.

Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons will adjust to life without Derrick Pitts, who was a menace for opposing defenses the last few years and led the Knights to a program turnaround. Justin Relyea and Johnny Villanueva figure to absorb most of the load on offense.

Cambridge returns to Class D after spending a few years in Class C and immediately becomes a Section II Super Bowl favorite. With Saratoga Catholic recently dropping its program, only seven Class D teams remain in Section II, opening a big door for Cambridge. Quarterback Kyle Parmenter has graduated, but first team All-State wide receiver Jesse Lybert returns to power the Indians' offense. Cambridge has such a strong legacy on the gridiron, it typically has a larger roster than many Class A or Class AA schools, so the team always seems to reload.

Fort Edward fell back to earth in 2009, finishing 2-4 in Class D play a season ago.

Rensselaer has won two straight Class D Super Bowls, but the team will have a new look in 2010. Still, the Rams have plenty of returning players with significant postseason experience, including quarterback Timmy Foust, as well as running backs Phil Sayers and Tyler Bishop. Kenny Mauer and Jason Brown will be the backbone of a strong line both ways. It's a bit early to predict a Cambridge vs. Rensselaer Super Bowl this fall, but all signs point to it right now. Cambridge visits Rensselaer for a regular season game in Week Five on Friday, Oct. 1.

Timmy Foust, seen here in training camp in 2009, is set to return under center for Rensselaer in 2010 as the Rams seek a third straight Section II title. (Photo by J.S. Carras - The Record).

Salem, Warrensburg and Whitehall took three of the last four spots in the Class D standings last season (Fort Edward was among them), although it seems the race for third place is wide open in 2010.

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The 2010 high school football schedules, taken from the always-valuable www.Section2football.org, are posted below in team-by-team and week-by-week format.

To the Class D schedules, all games against Saratoga Catholic will now be byes for the opposing teams unless they can find another open opponent at this point in time.

All games are also subject to change based on the local television schedule and other adjustments.

I know the Week One Class B game between Schalmont and Cohoes will be played at Union College on Friday, Sept. 3, for example.

2010 Section II high school football week-by-week schedule

2010 Section II high school football team-by-team schedule


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