Saturday, September 4, 2010

High school football: Week One in review

Week One gets blown out
First week of the Section II schedule features 22 games decided by 20 points or more

TROY —
Excitement for the 2010 high school football season had been brewing in weight rooms and on practice fields around the Capital Region ever since the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Spartans fell short in the New York State Class A championship game last November.

Week One of the Section II schedule, however, was a dud.

Only six of the 30 games played were decided by 10 points or fewer. Niskayuna edged county rival Schenectady by four points, Averill Park won a nail-biter over Gloversville and Ravena came from behind to beat Cobleskill-Richmondville, 21-20.

Nearly every other game was all but over at the half.

An astounding 22 games – 73.3% of the Week One schedule - featured a margin of victory of at least 20 points for the winning team.

Blowouts are an intrinsic and awkward part of the game. It was also understandable that every team was shaking off the rust, adjusting to a new coaching staff or running a brand-new offense for the first time in Week One, reasons that may explain a few of the lopsided scores.

Does Section II have a crisis of blowout games?

On one hand, the section took a big step in shifting to a classification-based system in 2004 that has prevented schools with a giant base student population from beating up on teams with many fewer student-athletes to choose from in the hallways. (All of the private schools in Section II appear to be responsibly placed in a classification that also keeps the spirit of competitive balance alive).

Another factor must be the cyclical nature of high school football teams. Many players arrive on the varsity as juniors, play for two years, don a cap and gown and head for greener pastures beyond high school. It’s hard to build any sort of consistency on a team when coaches have to replace approximately half their teams each season and are allowed just 16 practices to prepare for the first game.

Yet, in Troy High’s 55-0 victory over La Salle Friday night on Sutton Field, Flying Horses head coach Jack Burger played it by the book and used his starters for one series in the third quarter before playing second-string players exclusively. The game officials used a running clock throughout most of the fourth quarter.

While blowout games provide an opportunity to get in the game for the second-team players who work just as hard in practice as their starting teammates, they also increase the risk of injury for players that do not have a solid grasp on form tackling or awareness of their surroundings.

Some states have imposed a rule that enforces a running clock if a team is leading by 35 or 40 points at the beginning of the second half. The rule, of course, essentially prevents the already slim chance that the trailing team could mount the comeback of the century, which is why it has its detractors.

Connecticut’s Interscholastic Athletic Conference drafted a score management rule in 2006 that led to the suspension of any coach whose team won a game by 50 points or more. In the first two years the rule was in place, 50-point blowouts, of which there was an average of 27 per year in Connecticut, dropped to a rate of 1.5 per season.

Section II featured three such 50-point blowouts in Week One alone. There was no evidence of coaches running up the score in any of those instances. Rather, the schedule featured an unusually high number of games where one team was seriously overmatched.

The New York State Public High School Athletic Association or Section II need not impose any drastic regulations, but if coaches and officials can come to classy and sensible solutions like those at last week’s Troy-La Salle game, it will lessen the dread felt by our local players and fans on both sides in those awkward situations.

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The Record's Week One power polls
Class AA
Team, League, Overall
1, Troy High, 1-0, 1-0
The Flying Horses ran wild on La Salle in Week One – 55-0 - and return to action Saturday afternoon at home against Colonie, which dropped a 34-0 decision to Shaker in Week One.
2, Shaker, 1-0, 1-0
The Blue Bison defeated Colonie to give first-year head coach Greg Sheeler his first Section II victory. Athletic Director Ed Dopp presented Sheeler with the game ball, which was signed by all members of the team.
3, Saratoga Springs, 1-0, 1-0
The Blue Streaks opened their Section II Class AA title defense with a 28-12 victory over Guilderland. Look for the Blue Streaks to be in the mix in 2010 as well.
4, Ballston Spa, 1-0, 1-0
The Scotties, playing for the first time since losing to Saratoga Springs in the 2009 Class AA Super Bowl, routed Albany High, 50-7. Ballston Spa hosts Saratoga this week in a big-time rivalry game.
5, Shenendehowa, 1-0, 1-0
The Plainsmen defeated Bethlehem on Saturday and will play Albany High in Week Two, all of which leads up to a Week Three matchup in Steuerwald Stadium against Ballston Spa.

Class A
Team, League, Overall
1, Burnt Hills, 0-0, 1-0
The Spartans won their 21st consecutive Section II game Friday, beating Lansingburgh, 25-15. Burnt Hills plays host to Averill Park this Friday.
2, Queensbury, 0-0, 1-0
Posting a shutout (23-0) over Scotia-Glenville, the Spartans will certainly factor in the tight Northwest Division race with Burnt Hills, Amsterdam and Glens Falls.
3, Averill Park, 0-0, 1-0
The Warriors opened the 2010 season with a high-scoring victory over Gloversville. Averill Park has now won its first game of the season three years in a row.
4, Bishop Maginn, 0-0, 1-0
The Griffins handled South Glens Falls in Week One and the Griffins’ multi-faceted running attack will fare them well in 2010.
5, Lansingburgh, 0-0, 0-1
The Knights lost a tough game to Burnt Hills in Week One, but showed that they can compete in Class A after having spent a season in Class B.

Class B
Team, League, Overall
1, Albany Academy, 0-0, 1-0
The Cadets posted a huge 67-12 victory at Broadalbin-Perth behind 297 rushing yards and five touchdowns from Zay Richardson.
2 ,Schalmont, 0-0, 1-0
The Sabres, reining Section II Class B champions, lost star quarterback Vince Gallo to graduation but started the 2010 campaign at Union College with a 47-6 victory over Cohoes.
3, Schuylerville, 0-0, 1-0
The Black Horses made a statement in Week One with a 42-6 victory over Cairo-Durham. Can Schuylerville hang with the best of the best in Class B?
4, Hudson, 0-0, 1-0
The Bluehawks’ defense shone in Week One, holding Johnstown to two points in a 35-2 victory.
5, Hudson Falls, 0-0, 0-1
The Tigers faced Class A rival Glens Falls in Week One, losing 26-7. Look for Hudson Falls to rebound once the team resumes its Class B schedule.

Class C
Team, League, Overall
1, Hoosick Falls, 1-0, 1-0
The Panthers are still putting points on the board and year after advancing to the New York State Class C semifinals, beating Corinth 48-20 in Week One.
2, Chatham, 1-0, 1-0
Senior running back Josh Keyes ran wild in a 42-20 victory over Catholic Central in Week One, but he may be most dangerous for his physical skills on defense.
3, Voorheesville, 0-0, 1-0
The Blackbirds blanked Mechanicville, 21-0, on Saturday afternoon in a non-division game. Voorheesville travels to Fonda-Fultonville for another test this Saturday.
4, Watervliet, 1-0, 1-0
The Cannoneers opened yet another season with a bang, topping Taconic Hills, 45-6. A long-time grudge match happen Friday night when Watervliet travels to Lansingburgh to take on Catholic Central.
5, Granville, 1-0, 1-0
Codi Scribner ran for 112 yards in Granville’s 43-13 victory over Stillwater in Week One. The Golden Horde host Wasaren League rival Greenwich Saturday afternoon in a matchup of early-season unbeatens.

Class D
Team, League, Overall
1, Rensselaer, 0-0, 0-0
The Rams received a bye week thanks to Saratoga Central Catholic’s decision to drop its program this summer. Rensselaer kicks off the 2010 season Friday night at home against Fort Edward.
2, Cambridge, 1-0, 1-0
The Indians are back in Class D after spending 2009 as a Class C team and wasted no time climbing the standings. Cambridge used 168 rushing yards from Matt Best to defeat Bishop Gibbons 20-7.
3, Fort Edward, 1-0, 1-0
The Flying Forts scored 54 points in a come-from-behind rout of Warrensburg in Week One.

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Section II high school football standings, 2010

Class AA, League, Overall
Empire Division, W-L, W-L, PF, PA, QP
Ballston Spa, 1-0, 1-0, 50, 7, 7
Saratoga Springs, 1-0, 1-0, 28, 12, 7
Shenendehowa, 1-0, 1-0, 38, 10, 7
Christian Bros. Acad., 0-0, 1-0, 37, 14, 0
Albany, 0-1, 0-1, 7, 50, 0
Bethlehem, 0-1, 0-1, 10, 38, 0
Guilderland, 0-1, 0-1, 12, 28, 0
Liberty Division
Niskayuna, 1-0, 1-0, 32, 28, 6
Shaker, 1-0, 1-0, 34, 0, 7
Troy, 1-0, 1-0, 55, 0, 7
Columbia, 0-0, 0-1, 14, 37, 0
Colonie, 0-1, 0-1, 14, 37, 0
La Salle, 0-1, 0-1, 0, 55, 0
Schenectady, 0-1, 0-1, 28, 32, 1

Class A
Northwest Division
Amsterdam, 0-0, 1-0, 35, 12, 0
Burnt Hills, 0-0, 1-0, 25, 15, 0
Glens Falls, 0-0, 1-0, 27, 6, 0
Queensbury, 0-0, 1-0, 23, 0, 0
Gloversville, 0-0, 0-1, 33, 38, 0
South Glens Falls, 0-0, 0-1, 20, 41, 0
Southeast Division
Averill Park, 0-0, 1-0, 38, 33, 0
Bishop Maginn, 0-0, 1-0, 41, 20, 0
Lansingburgh, 0-0, 0-1, 15, 25, 0
Mohonasen, 0-0, 0-1, 12, 35, 0
Scotia-Glenville, 0-0, 0-1, 0, 23, 0

Class B
Reinfurt Division
Albany Academy, 0-0, 1-0, 67, 12, 0
Hudson, 0-0, 1-0, 35, 2, 0
Ravena, 0-0, 1-0, 21, 20, 0
Cairo-Durham, 0-0, 0-1, 6, 42, 0
Cohoes, 0-0, 0-1, 6, 47, 0
West Division
Schalmont, 0-0, 1-0, 47, 6, 0
Schuylerville, 0-0, 1-0, 42, 6, 0
Broadalbin-Perth, 0-0, 0-1, 12, 67, 0
Cobleskill, 0-0, 0-1, 20, 21, 0
Hudson Falls, 0-0, 0-1, 6, 27, 0
Johnstown, 0-0, 0-1, 2, 35, 0
Independent
Ichabod Crane, 0-0, 0-1, 2, 35, 0

Class C
North Division
Granville, 1-0, 1-0, 43, 13, 7
Greenwich, 1-0, 1-0, 54, 0, 7
Hoosick Falls, 1-0, 1-0, 48, 20, 7
Tamarac, 1-0, 1-0, 28, 18 7
Mechanicville, 0-0, 0-1, 0, 21, 0
Corinth, 0-1, 0-1, 20, 48, 0
Hoosic Valley, 0-1, 0-1, 0, 54, 0
Lake George, 0-1, 0-1, 18, 28, 0
Stillwater, 0-1, 0-1, 13, 43, 0
South Division
Chatham, 1-0, 1-0, 42, 20, 7
Fonda-Fultonville, 1-0, 1-0, 39, 22, 7
Watervliet, 1-0, 1-0, 45, 6, 7
Canajoharie, 0-0, 1-0, 42, 18, 0
Voorheesville, 0-0, 1-0, 21, 0, 0
Catholic Central, 0-1, 0-1, 20, 42, 0
Coxsackie-Athens, 0-1, 0-1, 22, 39, 0
Taconic Hills, 0-1, 0-1, 6, 45, 0

Class D
Cambridge, 1-0, 1-0, 20, 7, 5.5
Fort Edward, 1-0, 1-0, 54, 15, 6
Whitehall, 1-0, 1-0, 35, 8, 7
Rensselaer, 0-0, 0-0, 0, 0, 0
Bishop Gibbons, 0-1, 0-1, 7, 20, 1.5
Salem, 0-1, 0-1, 8, 35, 0
Warrensburg, 0-1, 0-1, 15, 54, 1

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