Thursday, September 23, 2010

Everything on the line Saturday afternoon: 'Vliet at Tamarac

Joe Clayton (left) and Taz Messig (right) are two of the reasons why the Tamarac High School football team is off to a 3-0 start. (Video captures by Will Montgomery - The Record).

CLUMS CORNERS -- Tamarac High School junior Tyler Larvie is Section II’s leading wide receiver by a wide margin – with 372 yards on 14 receptions this season, he is 109 yards ahead of his closest competition, Shaker’s Adrian Valentino – but Larive is the first to admit he couldn’t do it without his offensive line.

Just like Larvie’s personal success, everything is on the line this week for the Bengals (3-0, 3-0), who play host to Route 2 rival Watervliet (3-0, 3-0) Saturday afternoon in the first major test for both teams this season. Kickoff time for the non-division game is set for 1 p.m.

With a front five that averages over 225 pounds, Tamarac’s offensive front is adept at both run and pass blocking. Junior quarterback Nick Casale has completed 50% of his passes (22-for-44) for 505 yards and the Bengals have gained at least 100 yards rushing in each of their three games.

"It’s just that O-line," Larvie said. "Nick Casale has time, puts the ball up and I go get it. It all starts on the line pretty much. I credit them for every catch."

"It’s huge and they know it," said head coach Erick Roadcap. "That’s where it all starts. We've gone over 100 yards rushing all three weeks. We have the receivers to do it through the air and we have the O-line to push the rushing yards."

Tyler Larvie corrals a pass during Thursday's practice behind Tamarac High School. (Photo by J.S. Carras - The Record).

Larvie, a 5-foot-8, 140-pound receiver and defensive back, had an historic game one week ago Saturday at Granville, hauling in eight catches for 213 yards and two touchdowns. It was only the 20th time in Section II history that a single receiver had gained at least 200 yards in one game. He tied former Averill Park standout Mike Fil, who went on to play at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and caught seven passes for 213 yards in a 2004 game against Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, for 12th place on Section II’s single-game list.

Larvie’s friendship with Casale has also explained his breakout season.

"He’s been my quarterback since probably third grade, so it’s just chemistry," Larvie said. "That’s pretty much all it is between me and him."

Tamarac has started 3-0, just as it did in 2008. The Bengals played a key game in Week Four that year at Fonda-Fultonville, mustering a dramatic fourth quarter comeback but losing a wild one, 41-39.

"It’s the same thing that happened that year," said senior lineman Wade Hansen. "It comes down to a big game that decides our fate."

Later in that 2008 season, the Bengals lost another heartbreaker, 26-21, at Watervliet. The Cannoneers went on to win the Section II Class C Super Bowl and Fonda played in the semifinals, facts that head coach Erick Roadcap has used as motivation for his 2010 squad.

"Like the ‘08 group - except for being deeper - they’re just like the ‘08 group in the fact that they’re a team," Rodacap said. "They really are a team and they back each other up. They’re behind each other, they’re helping each other. They’re talking on defense. They’re talking on offense. They’re talking in the hallways."

Watervliet is led by senior running back Ryan Manning, who has gained 312 rushing yards on 49 attempts. He’s also a kick and punt return threat. His 56 points scored (nine touchdowns, one two-point conversion) are second in Section II behind only Albany Academy’s Zay Richardson, who has scored 94 points.

Tamarac's offensive line gets ready before a play in practice Thursday afternoon. The Bengals play host to Watervliet Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. (Carras photo - The Record).

The Cannoneers, a South Division team, are the group with a long legacy of winning seasons and Section II and state championship plaques. The Bengals, from the North Division, are the team that nearly lost their program in 2002 due to a lack of numbers. Saturday’s game will not factor in either team’s playoff seeding, but it will certainly go a long way in how both state their case for Section II postseason legitimacy.

"We’re both undefeated, so the team that wins makes a statement for themselves," Hansen said. "We’re both second or third place in the North or the South and you’ll just make a name for yourself in your division."

"They’re excited," Roadcap said. "They’re up for it. It’s a non-league game, but it will matter for sectional seeding. It might not matter for getting there, but it matters for sectionals. It matters to be one of the last three undefeated teams in the Cs. Eventually you have to play each other whether you're in the North or the South. If you make it, you’re going to see one of those southern teams. It does matter. It matters a lot."

Tamarac senior lineman Wade Hansen (left) and junior wide receiver Tyler Larvie (right) were all smiles after practice Thursday afternoon. (Montgomery photo).

Watervliet vs. Tamarac: recent history
Oct. 18, 2008 – 'Vliet 26, Tamarac 21
Aug. 31, 2007 – 'Vliet 26, Tamarac 6
Sept. 21, 2006 – 'Vliet 28, Tamarac 26
Sept. 25, 2004 – 'Vliet 39, Tamarac 0

For Wednesday's post with Week Four game capsules, standings and the schedule, click here.

Be sure to check out The Record on Friday for the full story on Tamarac as well as our staff picks for the big games in Week Four.

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