Troy High vs. Monroe-Woodbury: regional football preview
TROY — The members of the Troy High School football team spend all week in class listening to their teachers. At the end of the school day, they’re subject to the coaching staff watching their every move.
After a long week, the last thing the players probably wanted was to hear Friday evening was another lecture. Yet, a few dozen football players silently kneeled on the artificial turf on Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Ned Harkness Field, giving every once of their attention to Bob Reed.
Reed, a Saratoga Springs resident who played for the Minnesota Vikings and Winnipeg of the Canadian Football League in the 1960s, has grown attached to the Troy team after first becoming involved through the NFL’s Play it Smart program in which Troy High is a member.
“I’m interested in young people because they’re the future,” Reed told The Saratogian in August after his induction to the Vallejo Sports Hall of Fame in his native California. “If they get the proper guidance and footing, they’ll make the proper choices. Athletics help shape their character. We must support our youth.”
“He is somebody that had a great college career and played in the NFL and Canada for 10 years. That’s a great deal of credibility,” said Troy head coach Jack Burger. “When he speaks, the kids realize you have to get it done in the classroom as well. It’s different when you hear it from your coach or your parents, but when it’s coming from somebody that’s been there…”
Burger also hopes his players have their homework done on tonight’s regional playoff opponent Monroe-Woodbury, the winners of seven consecutive Section IX titles.
Unlike Troy’s conservative run-first approach on offense, the Crusaders rely on a spread option offense that mixes in short passing plays with a balanced running game.
Monroe-Woodbury junior quarterback Ryan Spelman has gained 872 rushing yards and has passed for 1,193 yards. Running back Trevor Officer has rushed for 1,290 yards and 17 touchdowns. Like Troy, which has outscored opponents 434-68, the Crusaders have been dominant in 10 wins this season, outscoring their opponents 448-69.
“They do it a certain way and we do it a certain way,” Burger said. “They do it out of the spread and give you a lot of different looks and spread you out and try to hit the home run. We’re pretty patient. We’ll take six and seven (yards per play) and hope that seven becomes 70.”
Troy has a pair of home-run hitters of its own in senior running backs Jordan Canzeri (169 atts., 1,471 yds., 25 TD) and Shatiek Lewis (73, 846, 11) but the Flying Horses haven’t quite yet faced a defense like Monroe-Woodbury’s.
Another challenge? Monroe-Woodbury’s average starting offensive lineman – 6-foot-1, 250 pounds – outweighs the average Troy offensive lineman by 16 pounds.
The first game after the Super Bowl has been the end of the road for the Section II Class AA champion each year since 2002, when Shenendehowa had advanced to the New York State championship game. Downstate teams from Section I and IX – Monroe-Woodbury and New Rochelle have won six of the seven playoff games against Section II teams since 2002 – have dominated the mid-November meetings this decade.
Troy was Section II’s most recent large-school super power, having advanced to regional competition in 1993 and every season from 1996-2000. The Flying Horses appeared in the New York State championship game four times over that span, winning it all in 1996 and 1998.
Although recent history may not be on their side tonight, the Flying Horses, thanks to a little help from friends like Reed and a series of tough Liberty Division games late in the regular season, are looking to put Troy High football back on the map at the state level.
“I think we played a pretty challenging schedule and did very well with the competition that we had,” Burger said. “If this was a very young team, I would be concerned with confidence, but I know we’re confident in what we’ve done.”
Pos., Name, Hgt., Wgt.
LT, James Copp, 6-4, 270
LG, Brian Hernandez, 6-0, 265
C, Josh Skowporski, 5-11, 265
RG, Ryan Jacobsen, 6-0, 230
RT, Brendan Taguer, 6-3, 220
Average: 6-1, 250
Pos., Name, Hgt., Wgt.
T, Shane Ross, 6-4, 192
G, Tim Ryan, 5-9, 240
C, Kyle Czarnick, 6-0, 220
G, Carlos Hill, 6-1, 280
T, Jay Yaskanich, 6-1, 240
Average: 6-1, 234.4
Regional tickets: Tickets for regional round football games will cost $8 at the gate. Money raised from ticket sales helps defray costs for officials and team transportation in regional and state-level play.
Directions to Dietz Stadium: To get to Dietz Stadium, which is located at 170 North Front Street in Kingston, follow I-87 south to Exit 19. In the traffic circle after the toll booth, take the second exit to Washington Ave. After 0.6 miles, bear right on Front Street. The stadium is on the right.
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