Perfect Patriots division champs, 34-7

Schenectady pounced on LaSalle Institute right from the start, and rolled to a title — its first in
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Schenectady pounced on LaSalle Institute right from the start, and rolled to a title — its first in 21 years of playing varsity football.

Nick Ottati scored on three quarterback sneaks in the first quarter, threw a touchdown pass to Anthony Cooper in the second and the Pat­riots played their finest defensive game in a 34-7 Class AA Liberty

Division victory Friday night at Larry Mulvaney Field.

Schenectady improved to 4-0 in wrapping up the division, and reached six victories for the first time in program history while ending a five-game slide against the reigning Section II champion Cadets (3-1, 4-2).

“This feels great. This is the happiest day of my life,” said Patriots two-way tackle Kwami Hilts, who twice sacked LaSalle quarterback Mike Murray. “Our attitude was to stay positive. We had the will to come out on top. We wanted this so badly.”

“This is unexplainable,” said Schenectady guard/linebacker Dan Desbiens. “We expected to win, but we didn’t expect it to be like this. We played our game and dominated.”

LaSalle helped, with star tailback Marquis Terrell fumbling the ball away on the Cadets’ first two plays of the game, and also on a second-and-goal play late in the opening quarter. Schenectady, ranked No. 11 in the state, produced touchdowns after all three turnovers.

“Our defense played heads-up,” said Schenectady coach Carm

DePoalo, whose Patriots led, 28-0, before the battle for the division banner was 15 minutes old. “We knew he [Terrell] was going to get the football a number of times, and we turned it over on them.”

“We worked all week on tackling the kid [Terrell],” said Desbiens. “We knew we had to hit him, and he coughed it up a couple of times.”

Terrell set school records with seven touchdowns and 365 yards in LaSalle’s 61-37 win over Schenectady last season. The senior ran for 189 yards Friday on 23 carries, including a 76-yard touchdown burst with 5:30 left in the third quarter.

“We knew he was good, but we were not scared of him,” said Schen­ectady center/nose guard Billy Rios. “We weren’t going to let him run all over us like last year.”

“Our defense played THE game of the season,” Ottati said. “In the first half, they played a perfect game.”

The combination of defense and quick-strike offense enabled the Pat­riots to gain not only the division title, but also the No. 1 seed for the Section II playoffs and homefield advantage throughout.

“I can’t even take it all in,” said Rios, a 6-foot-2, 290-pound senior. “We’re Liberty Division champ­ions, and we’re the first seed, which means the other teams have to come to us. It’s mind blowing. I have no other words for it.”

“We’re 6-0, and that’s great,” said DePoalo. “We made history with our first championship, but there are bigger ones out there.”

“Are we done? Absolutely not,” said Ottati, a senior. “We believe we have a team that can do some damage in the playoffs.”

Schenectady running back Marc Thompson turned in his fifth straight 100-yard game with 169 on 22 carries, and 5-foot-5, 140-pound Herman Seise darted for a career-high 109 yards on 13 attempts. Seise zipped 44 yards through the LaSalle defense for a touchdown to cap off the Patriots’ opening drive of the third quarter.

Ottati took shorter routes to the end zone, scoring all three of his touchdowns from one yard out. His first TD finished off an eight-play, 40-yard drive, his second put the final touch on a five-play, 23-yard sequence, and his third ended a four play, 86-yard effort that featured a 53-yard reception by Cooper.

“We’ve been successful with that,” DePoalo said of the quarterback sneaks. “We get behind Rios, Desbiens and [guard David] Doty and go. Those guys do a great job up front.”

COSTLY MISTAKE

LaSalle’s best opportunity to score in the first half came after Ottati’s third touchdown. Vinny Planz returned the ensuing kickoff 67 yards to the Patriots’ 12, and

after a personal foul moved the ball to the six, Tyler Washington ran to the one. Terrell lost the ball while diving toward the end zone line, Cooper fell on it at the four, and eight plays later, the junior wide out hauled in a 13-yard pass from Ottati.

Thompson began the drive with a 45-yard run, and Schenectady kept it alive when punter Isaiah Earing passed 12 yards to Thompson on a fourth-and-six fake, pushing the ball to the LaSalle 20.

Ottati was 8-for-12 passing for 129 yards with two interceptions, both by Terrell. Schenectady ended up with three turnovers, all in the second half, while LaSalle had four.

“Our coaches emphasized in the locker room that we had to win the turnover battle,” said Ottati. “They said, ‘Do it, and we’ll win the game.’ ”

Aside from Terrell’s 189 rushing yards, Schenectady held the rest of the Cadets to 72 yards of offense.

“I didn’t do a good job of preparing these guys,” said a dejected LaSalle coach Al Rapp, whose last loss to a Section II team came midway through the 2006 season. “I should have done a better job.”

LaSalle  0 0 7 0 —  7

Schenectady 21 7 6 0 — 34

S — Ottati 1 run (Best kick).

S — Ottati 1 run (Best kick).

S — Ottati 1 run (Best kick).

S — Cooper 13 pass from Ottati (Best kick).

S — Seise 44 run (kick failed).

L — Terrell 76 run (Terry kick).

Categories: High School Sports

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