Thursday, October 28, 2010

High school football: Week Nine, a look ahead

Troy High's Luis Lind (left) puts the pressure on Niskayuna quarterback Kyle Bayly (8) during a Week Six game at Niskayuna. The Flying Horses are going to need pressure like that all game Saturday to keep pace with the Silver Warriors' passing attack. (Photo by J.S. Carras - The Record).

TROY — The close calls have been few and far between for the Troy High School football team in 2010, as the Flying Horses have outscored opponents 333 to 61 through eight weeks.

But Troy’s biggest scare of the season, a 35-28 overtime victory at Niskayuna in Week Six, has given the team confidence this week as it prepares to host the Silver Warriors, the Liberty Division’s No. 3 seed, in a Section II Class AA semifinal contest Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

“Our coaches mention all the time that we’re happy we came that close to them in overtime the first time,” said senior running back and defensive back Jordan Canzeri, at left. “If we just played them for the first time now, we’d say, ‘oh, they’re 5-3 and they lost to La Salle and Columbia in overtime. We wouldn’t think that much of them.

“But we’re really happy they stepped up their game and we both went into overtime. We’re not going to let down at all this week.”

Troy (8-0), the Liberty Division’s No. 1 seed and the No. 7 ranked Class AA team in the latest New York State Sportswriters Association poll, was pushed to the brink by Niskayuna’s passing game in their first meeting between the teams.

Kyle Bayly, Niskayuna’s senior quarterback, completed 20-of-37 passes for 336 yards and one touchdown in Week Six. He threw for 420 yards in an upset victory at Ballston Spa in Week Seven and passed for 221 yards and four touchdowns last week in a Class AA quarterfinal upset at Saratoga Springs.

The leading passer in Section II, Bayly, who plays out of the shotgun set and has a rocket right arm, has completed 109-of-207 passes for 1,631 yards and thrown 12 touchdowns against seven interceptions.

Troy’s defensive secondary, Canzeri and fellow seniors Evan Vadney, Dan Danahy and Ian Blair, pictured at right, know that they’ll have their hands full Saturday afternoon, but they believe they’re ready for the challenge.

“We start off on Monday with a scout look and coach goes through their defense and what they’re going to show us and then their offense, with what they’re going to show us,” Vadney, at left, said. “Then they give us scout sheets a couple of pages thick. Tuesday and Wednesday are all-out. Tuesday is offense and Wednesday is defense. All-out practice. It kind of slows down toward the end of the week, but it’s just getting after it all week.”

Bayly’s main target is senior Nick Schuler, Section II’s leading receiver, who has caught 34 passes for 652 yards and seven touchdowns. Josh Callahan, a junior wide receiver with 26 receptions for 383 yards and two touchdowns, is also a threat for the Silver Warriors.

“The first time we faced them, we weren’t really ready for how much they passed,” said Canzeri. “Every week, once you see a team and see how they play and see what their adjustments are, we just go into practice fix all of what we need to do. We make new plays and all we do is practice, practice, practice.”

Troy’s offense, which has averaged 41.6 points per game, has been potent as well, but the Flying Horses tend to get it done on the ground. Canzeri has rushed for 1,203 yards on 144 attempts this season. Senior Shatiek Lewis, who has been limited by an injured ankle each of the past four weeks, has gained 569 yards on 53 attempts.

Shenendehowa (6-2), the Empire Division’s No. 3 seed, travels to Empire No. 1 Ballston Spa (6-2) in the other Section II Class AA semifinal game. Semifinal winners meet in the Super Bowl on Fri., Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. at South Colonie High School.

Niskayuna has not appeared in a Section II Super Bowl since 1996. Troy won that Class A game, 38-6, en route to a New York State title.

“The bottom line is we have to play Troy football,” Danahy, at right, said. “If we do that, we’ll be fine.”

Bishop Maginn (5-3, No. 3 seed, Southeast) 
at Lansingburgh (7-1, No. 1, Southeast)
Fri., 7 p.m.
Class A semifinals

About Maginn: The Griffins upset Northwest Division No. 2 Amsterdam on the road last week behind 148 rushing yards from Matthias McKinnon.
About ‘Burgh: Last week, the Knights came from behind to defeat Gloversville - for the second time this season – in a Class A quarterfinals. Marcus Little rushed for 78 yards and Anthony Fogarty added a kick return touchdown to spark the Knights. Lansingburgh has won seven straight since losing to Burnt Hills, 25-15, in Week One.
Notable: Lansingburgh defeated Maginn in Troy, 20-14, on Oct. 15 in the regular season finale. The Knights trailed 14-13 in the fourth quarter, but rallied for the victory.

Albany Academy (6-2, No. 2, Reinfurt) 
at Schalmont (8-0, No. 1 seed, West)
Fri., 7 p.m.
Class B semifinals
About Academy: The Cadets rallied for a 21-17 victory over Schuylerville in the quarterfinals last week. Senior running back Zay Richardson ran for 152 yards on 27 attempts, scoring twice in the second half.
About Schalmont: The Sabres, who have outscored opponents 311 to 38 this season, posted a humongous 53-6 victory over Cairo-Durham in the quarterfinals last week. Schalmont, which won its first Section II Super Bowl in school history in 2009 thanks to the running of quarterback Vince Gallo, have turned to the passing skills of quarterback Joe Paskevich (44-of-74 for 804 yds., 12 TD, 2 INT) in 2010.
Notable: These teams did not meet this season. In 2009, Academy won the first meeting, 35-18, but Schalmont posted a 32-12 victory over the Cadets in the Class B quarterfinal round.

 Hoosick Falls (8-0, No. 1 seed North Division) vs. Fonda
(6-2, No. 2 seed, South Division) 
at Stillwater High School
Sat., 7 p.m.
Class C semifinals

About Fonda: The Braves have leaned on workhorse running back Wally Kowlaski this season. Kowalski has rushed for 994 yards on 170 attempts, an average of 5.8 yards per carry.
About Hoosick Falls: The Panthers have relied on a number of offensive weapons this season, including sophomore running back Brad Burns (65 atts., 608 yds., eight TDs) and junior Tanner Williams, who has gained 712 all-purpose offensive yards and scored 14 touchdowns as a runner or receiver. Hoosick Falls went 3-0 on the artificial turf at Stillwater in postseason games in 2009.
Notable: The Panthers won a non-division game in Fonda on Oct. 9, 21-6.

Rensselaer (5-2, No. 2 seed) vs. Whitehall (5-2, No. 2 seed)
at Schuylerville High School
Sat., 1 p.m.
Class D semifinals

About Whitehall: Running back Josh Hoagland has rushed 137 times for 1,172 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. Hoagland is also a threat to throw the football, as he has completed five-of-20 passes for 139 yards and three touchdowns.
About Rensselaer: Rensselaer clinched the No. 2 seed with an 18-6 victory over the Railroaders on Oct. 15 and played Canajoharie, a non-playoff Class C team, in a bye game last week. Canajoharie won, 16-0. Rensselaer has won two straight Section II Class D Super Bowl titles and has lost to Moriah (Section VII) in the regional round two years running as well.
Notable: Whitehall topped No. 6 Warrensburg in Class D quarterfinal action last week, 40-20.

Of the 10 semifinal football games on the schedule in Section II this weekend, eight are rematches of regular season games. The Record takes a look at what happened the first time and what fans can expect to see the second time around with Super Bowl berths on the line.

Class AA semifinals

Liberty Div. No. 3 Niskayuna (5-3) 
at Liberty Div. No. 1 Troy (8-0)
Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

First game: Troy outlasted Nisky, 35-28, in overtime on Oct. 8. Jordan Canzeri returned the game's opening kickoff for a touchdown, scored the go-ahead touchdown in overtime and finished with 145 rushing yards on 23 attempts.
Niskayuna quarterback Kyle Bayly completed 20-of-37 passes for 336 yards. He passed for 420 in Week Seven and leads all of Section II with 1,631 passing yards.
Semifinal outlook: Troy, which posted four straight shutouts to open the season, has faced been challenged in three of the past four weeks but found a way to win its games.
Niskayuna, which won on the road Friday night, upsetting Saratoga Springs, is one of the hottest teams in Section II and will play with the confidence that it knows it can hang in a competitive game with Troy.

Empire Div. No. 3 Shenendehowa (6-2) 
at Empire Div. No. 1 Ballston Spa (6-2)
Friday, 7 p.m.

First game: The Plainsmen posted a 7-0 victory on Sept. 17, Shen's only victory at Steuerwald Stadium this season.
Semifinal outlook: Shen, 5-0 on the road this season, heads across Saratoga County to take on a Scotties team that lost to Nisky in the final week of the regular season but rebounded with a 27-21 victory over Schenectady Friday night.
The Plainsmen will rely on senior running back Bronson Greene, while the Scotties count on a number of weapons in their traditional option-based rushing attack.

Class A semifinals
Southeast Div. No. 3 Bishop Maginn (5-3) 
at Southeast Div. No. 1 Lansingburgh (7-1)
Friday, 7 p.m.

First game: Lansingburgh defeated Maginn in Troy, 20-14, on Oct. 15 in the regular season finale. The Knights trailed 14-13 in the fourth quarter, but rallied for the victory.
Semifinal outlook: The Knights have been red-hot – winning seven straight - since losing to Burnt Hills, 25-15, in Week One. Marcus Little, Anthony Fogarty and Jake Luce form a three-headed rushing threat and junior quarterback Carlos Grillo can also throw the ball when asked.
Maginn upset Northwest Division No. 2 Amsterdam on the road last week. Matthias McKinnon is a threat out of the backfield and Isaiah Phillips is a big-play option at wide receiver.

Northwest Div. No. 3 Queensbury (6-2) at Northwest Div. No. 1 Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (8-0)
Friday, 7 p.m.

First game: Burnt Hills blanked a previously undefeated Queensbury team, 48-0, on Sept. 18.
Semifinal outlook: Burnt Hills will be the heavy favorite in this showdown of the Spartans. BH-BL has won 28 straight games against Section II opponents.

Class C semifinals

North Div. No. 2 Greenwich (6-2) vs. South Div. No. 1 Chatham (8-0) 
at Stillwater High School
Sat., 2 p.m.

First game: Chatham won a non-division game in Greenwich, 48-28, on Oct. 15.
Semifinal outlook: Chatham features senior running back and safety Josh Keyes, who is always a threat for a long run or a punishing tackle.
Greenwich, which appeared in the Class D Super Bowl in 2009, squeaked past Voorheesville in a quarterfinal game, 14-8.

South Div. No. 2 Fonda-Fultonville (6-2) vs. North Div. No. 1 Hoosick Falls (8-0) 
at Stillwater High School
Sat., 7 p.m.

First game: The Panthers won a non-division game in Fonda on Oct. 9, 21-6.
Semifinal outlook: Both Hoosick Falls and Fonda have been renowned for their passing games in recent years, and given dry conditions on Stillwater's artificial turf, these teams could turn to the skies in the semis as well. Hoosick Falls won semifinal, Super Bowl and regional round games at Stillwater last season en route to an appearance in the New York State Class C semifinals.

Class D semifinals
No. 3 Whitehall (5-2) 
vs. No. 2 Rensselaer (5-2) 
at Schuylerville High School, Sat., 1 p.m.

First game: Rensselaer clinched the No. 2 seed with an 18-6 victory over the Railroaders on Oct. 15.
Semifinal outlook: The Rams, two-time defending Section II Class D champions, lost a crossover game to Canajoharie last week, 16-0. Whitehall trounced Warrensburg, 40-20, in a Class D quarterfinal game. Can Rensselaer get back on the winning track in the semifinals or will Whitehall advance to a Section II Super Bowl game for the first time since 1989?

No. 4 Fort Edward (4-3) 
vs. No. 1 Cambridge (7-0) 
at Schuylerville High School
Sat., 7 p.m.

First game: Cambridge won a regular season game on Sept. 25, 49-8.
Semifinal outlook: Cambridge's Matt Best ran for 262 yards in the first meeting between these teams and he's been practically unstoppable for the Indians this season. Quarterback Billy Pine threw for 184 yards and three touchdowns in last week's 41-0 crossover victory over Granville, so Cambridge can also get it done through the air.

Class B semifinals
(R2) Albany Academy (6-2) at (W1) Schalmont (8-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
(W2) Hudson Falls (4-4) at (R1) Ravena (7-1) , Friday, 7 p.m.

Crossover games
(Dates, times and sites are TBD for many of these games as of now)
Broadalbin-Perth at Cohoes, Weds., 3:30 p.m.
Shaker at Saratoga Springs, Thurs., 6 p.m.
La Salle at CBA
Schenectady at Guilderland
Bethlehem at Colonie
Columbia at Albany
Scotia-Glenville at Amsterdam
South Glens Falls at Schuylerville
Cobleskill-Richmondville vs. Hudson
Coxsackie-Athens vs. Cairo-Durham
Corinth at Ichabod Crane
Lake George at Warrensburg
Granville at Mechanicville
Tamarac at Voorheesville
Catholic Central at Stillwater

Section II stat pack
Player, School, Att., Yds., Avg., TD
Zay Richardson, Albany Academy, 157, 1718, 10.9, 26
Duane Todman, Corinth, 169, 1457, 8.6, 16
Josh Keyes, Chatham, 115, 1336, 11.6, 18
Jordan Canzeri, Troy, 144, 1203, 8.4, 18
Dakota Drake, Hudson Falls, 190, 1190, 6.3, 14
Bronson Greene, Shenendehowa, 168, 1188, 7.1, 15
Josh Hoagland, Whitehall, 137, 1172, 8.6, 18
Troy Garguilo, Ballston Spa, 141, 1041, 7.4, 10
Matt Best, Cambridge, 91, 1033, 11.4, 12
Codi Scribner, 178, 1000, 5.6, 11
Justin White, Fort Edward, 116, 1000, 8.6, 14

Player, School, Comp., Att., Yds., TD, INT
Kyle Bayly, Niskayuna, 109, 207, 1631, 12, 7
Ryan Smith, Guilderland, 107, 212, 1488, 18, 4
Nick Casale, Tamarac, 58, 125, 1154, 9, 9
Tony Giroux, Greenwich, 45, 88, 1104, 10, 3
Tanner Niles, Chatham, 45, 79, 994, 18, 2
John Stanley, Columbia, 74, 146, 962, 9, 11
Brandon Legault, Watervliet, 76, 168, 960, 7, 12
Mike Brewster, Hoosick Falls, 59, 92, 955, 12, 2
Ryan Duncan, Voorheesville, 75, 130, 953, 7, 1
Jake Guislane, Ichabod Crane, 48, 112, 888, 8, 7

Player, School, Rec., Yds., TD
Nick Schuler, Niskayuna, 34, 652, 19.2, 7
Ian McGrath, Chatham, 26, 648, 24.9, 11
Tyler Larvie, Tamarac, 25, 623, 24.9, 8
Ryan McFee, Greenwich, 22, 489, 22.2, 6
Ricky Pallozzi, Ichabod Crane, 26, 447, 17.2, 4
Dylan August, Guilderland, 26, 405, 15.6, 5
Alex Grayson, Mechanicville, 24, 398, 16.6, 1
Dom Litz, Guilderland, 22, 392, 17.8, 4
Adrian Valentino, Shaker, 14, 391, 27.9, 5
Josh Callahan, Niskayuna, 26, 383, 14.7, 2

Player, School, PAT, FG, Tot.
Evan Nusbaum, Burnt Hills, 45, 0, 45
Ryan Behrens, Chatham, 39, 0, 39
Joel Agnes, Niskayuna, 25, 3, 34
Matt Best, Cambridge, 32, 0, 32
Matt Beighey, Ballston Spa, 28, 1, 31
J.J. Murphy, Schalmont, 31, 0, 31
Harlan Hoose, Ravena, 20, 3, 29
Jake Shaw, Lansingburgh, 22, 2, 28
Bardo Talbi, Troy, 28, 0, 28
Joshua Sommers, Guilderland, 18, 3, 27

Total scoring
Player, School, TD, PAT, FG, 2-pt., Tot.
Zay Richardson, Albany Academy, 29, 0, 0, 5, 184
Josh Keyes, Chatham, 23, 0, 0, 0, 138
Josh Hoagland, Whitehall, 20, 0, 0, 4, 128
Evan Nusbaum, Burnt Hills, 13, 45, 0, 0, 123
Brandon Beatty, Burnt Hills, 20, 0, 0, 0, 120
Jordan Canzeri, Troy, 20, 0, 0, 0, 120
Duane Todman, Corinth, 20, 0, 0, 0, 120
Justin White, Fort Edward, 16, 2, 0, 11, 120
Tyler Pruiksma, Greenwich, 15, 0, 0, 12, 114
Matt Best, Cambridge, 13, 32, 0, 0, 110

The Record’s Power Polls
Class AA
Team, League, Overall, Last Week
1, Troy High, 8-0, 1
The Flying Horses pulled away in the second half of Saturday's quarterfinal game against CBA. Can they pull away from Niskayuna in the rematch or are they destined for another overtime classic?
2, Niskayuna, 5-3, 2
The Silver Warriors remained red hot as the defense held off a late Saratoga Springs rally in last week's quarterfinal showdown in the Spa City. How will the Nisky passing attack operate on Troy's often slippery and muddy field?
3, Ballston Spa, 5-1, 6-2, 3
The Scotties lost in the final week of the regular season and held on for a 27-21 victory over Schenectady in the Class AA quarterfinals. Will it be another close game against Shen?
4, Shenendehowa, 6-2, NR
Bronson Greene scored five touchdowns in a big 48-6 win at Shaker on Friday night. Will the Plainsmen be able to find any other targets on offense? Ballston Spa will surely be targeting Greene from the get-go.
5, Shaker, 6-2, 4
The Blue Bison enjoyed their finest season in recent memory, but a first round blowout at the hands of Shenendehowa will leave a bitter taste until next year.

Class A
Team, League, Overall, Last Week
1, Burnt Hills, 8-0, 1
The Spartans have won 28 straight games against Section II opponents. They get Queensbury in the semis, a team BH-BL defeated 48-0 in the regular season.
2, Lansingburgh, 7-1, 2
The Knights have won seven straight since losing to BH-BL in Week One, but they've had their share of close games. Expect another Friday night when 'Burgh plays host to Bishop Maginn.
3, Queensbury, 6-2, 5
The Spartans upset Averill Park on the road last week, earning a semifinal date at Burnt Hills, the No. 3 ranked Class A team in New York State.
4, Bishop Maginn, 5-3, NR
The Griffins shocked Amsterdam on the road last week, but beside Burnt Hills' dominance, it has been an unpredictable year in Class A. Can Maginn earn a 2008 Super Bowl rematch against Burnt Hills?
5, Averill Park, 5-3, 4
The Warriors improved by leaps and bounds in 2010 under second-year head coach Zach Gobel and they'll certainly miss a big group of talented seniors in 2011.

Class B
Team, League, Overall, Last Week
1, Schalmont, 8-0, 1
The Sabres cruised to a 59-6 quarterfinal victory over Cairo-Durham Friday night. Can Joe Paskevich carry Schalmont to where Vince Gallo took them in 2009 – a Section II Class B Super Bowl title?
2, Ravena, 7-1, 2
The Indians have won every game against Class B competition in 2010. Their one loss came in a non-division game at Averill Park.
3, Albany Academy, 6-2, 3
The Cadets held off a tough Schuylerville team in the quarterfinals, but does Zay Richardson and the rest of the Academy team have what it takes to upset Schalmont on the road?
4, Hudson Falls, 4-4, 4
The Tigers rolled to an easy home quarterfinal victory over Hudson High. Don't expect the ball to be thrown too many times when Hudson Falls plays at Ravena in a semifinal game this week.
5, Schuylerville, 5-3, 5
The Black Horses successfully made the leap from Class C to Class B this year, even though their Super Bowl dreams came up short.

Class C
Team, League, Overall, Last Week
1, Hoosick Falls, 8-0, 1
The Panthers blanked Watervliet at home in the quarterfinals, 42-0. Hoosick Falls' starting defense has allowed just two touchdowns through eight games.
2, Chatham, 8-0, 2
The Panthers crushed Tamarac in a quarterfinal game, 48-20. Josh Keyes rushed for 162 yards on just 12 attempts and Ian McGrath snared four touchdown passes from quarterback Tanner Niles.
3, Fonda-Fultonville, 6-2, 3
The Braves are one win away from their first Section II Super Bowl appearance since 1999, but Hoosick Falls, which defeated Fonda two weeks ago in a regular season game, will have something to say about that in Saturday's semifinal.
4, Greenwich, 6-2, 4
The Witches barely held on against Voorheesville in a quarterfinal game and saw star running back Tyler Pruiksma banged up in the process. Will Greenwich be ready to go against Chatham?
5, Mechanicville, 4-4, 5
The Red Raiders squeaked into the playoffs as the North Division's No. 4 seed, making something out of a season that looked dismal after a 1-3 start.

Class D
Team, League, Overall, Last Week
1, Cambridge, 7-0, 1
Just how good are the Indians? In a crossover game against Class C Granville last week, Cambridge won 41-0. Cambridge will play Fort Edward in the semis as its quest for its first Section II title since 2007 continues.
2, Rensselaer, 5-2, 2
The Rams take to the turf Saturday against Whitehall in a Class D semifinal a week after losing 16-0 to Canajoharie in a crossover bye game.
3, Whitehall, 5-2, 3
Running back Josh Hoagland, who has rushed for 18 touchdowns and 1,172 yards this season, is averaging 8.6 yards per carry.

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