A strong game featuring a quality running back and a massive offensive line powered Schalmont to its best football season in three decades last fall.
This year, that running back — Vince Gallo — will line up at quarterback. And 80 percent of an offensive line that averages better than 250 pounds per man is gone.
But the Sabres are determined to do duplicate last season’s 7-2 record.
“These guys had an incredible season last year,” said coach Joe Whipple, who came over from the Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons program when Mike DiCocco stepped down as Schalmont’s head coach. “Some very good players have graduated, but the goals are the same.”
Critical to the Sabres’ success will be Gallo, a senior who ran for over 1,600 yards and scored 18 touchdowns last year.
He’ll be the focal point of the Sabres’ offense again, though his responsibilities have changed.
“Vince is a great athlete, and he has the ability to make positive yards out of mistakes,” said Whipple.
“Last year, we had a lot of senior leadership,” said Gallo of the team, which dropped a 13-12 decision to Hudson in the Class B sectional quarterfinals. “I need to be more of a leader this year.”
Gallo has not played quarterback in his football career.
“It will be different, but I’ll still be running the ball,” he said. “The biggest thing is I have to make all the reads. But coach Whipple has been helping me with that.”
There are plenty of challengers in Class B.
Both Broadalbin-Perth and Cobleskill-Richmondville are looking to bounce back from tough years in the West Division.
“We’re very optimistic,” said Patriots coach Rick Snyder, who thinks his team’s finish will be closer to 2007’s 7-2 than last year’s 2-7 result.
“We lost a lot at the skill positions, but we’ve got a lot back on the line.”
Three of those linemen — seniors Matt Mueller (right guard), Joe Seney (left guard) and center Luke Phelps — are captains. Seniors Adam Winney (right tackle) and Rudy Breyo (left tackle) round out the front five whose job will be to protect sophomore quarterback R.J. Pingitore and open holes for running backs Aaron Bagwell, Cody Menge, Jeff Hoyt and promising soph Nick Coveney.
“It’s a battle every week, and maybe even more this year,” said Cobleskill-Richmondville coach Ed Hantho, who has four returning starters from last year’s 2-7 team in wideout/safety/kicker Justen Markley, tight end/defensive end Keegan Greene, two-way lineman Ron Sperbeck and running back/linebacker Nate Prezorski. “We’re going to need contributions from both the senior and junior classes, but I think we’ve got potential.”
Junior Cullen Hanna moves into the quarterback spot.
Seniors Adam Biron (quarterback) and Tony Cook (running back) will be the kys for Johnstown, 4-5 a year ago. Cook is in his third varsity season.
Defending ‘B’ champ Hudson Falls is looking to replace outstanding running back Joe McMurry.
The Reinfurt Division also figures to be a battle, with Lansingburgh back after three years in Class A.
“The kids had a lot thrown at them, and they’ve really responded well,” said Al McNall, who moved from defensive coordinator to head coach, succeeding Pete Porcelli, who led the Knights to four Section II titles in eight years.
“T.J. [quarterback T.J. McLaughlin] and Tyrone [running back/linebacker Tyrone Nichols] have been great leaders.”
McNall will keep the double-wing offense, though he may let McLaughlin throw more often.
“We plan on utilizing his talents. He throws pretty well,” said McNall.
Seniors Zaquawn Gordon and Terrance Kemp will also figure prominantly when the Knights unleash their running attack.
Cohoes went 5-0 in the division and finished 8-1, losing to Hudson Falls in the playoff semis, but the Tigers have to replace 13 starters.
“We lost all five offensive linemen, our tight end, quarterback and tailback on offense; and the entire line, three linebackers and half of our secondary on defense,” said coach James Ducharme. “This team has to find its own identity.”
Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk also took a large hit from graduation. “More than usual,” said veteran coach Gary VanDerzee.
Co-captains Mike Garza and Brandon McMullen will be counted on while younger players develop.
“We always want to challenge ourselves,” said VanDerzee, who is waiting for either senior Mike Condon or freshman Tyler Swift to take over at quarterback.
Hunter McCarthy returns at quarterback at Albany Academy, but lost his deep cast of talented receivers. Zay Richardson is the Cadets’ top running back.
Austin Bateman has quarterbacked Schuylerville to the last two Super Bowls, only to see his teams fall agonizinlgy short.
“We’re going to put a lot on his shoulders again,”said coach Greg O’Connor. “But, he’d take the ball every time if we asked him to.”
Fortunately for Bateman, he can hand off to powerful Brad Lyon and speedy Stave Backus.
“We can run it, catch it,” said O’Connor, who is replacing all but center Colton Barber on the line. “The question is, can we block?”
There’s no shortage of challengers looking to unseat the reigning North Division champions, led by Stillwater, Mechanicville, Hoosick Falls and Cambridge.
“It’s an exciting time for our kids,” said Stillwater coach Vince Barber, whose team will open tomorrow night against Cambridge on its new turf field. “They’re excited about the facilty, but I’m excited about our players.”
Dan Palmieri moves into the quarterback spot, and will be complemented by Kyle Brennan, Ryan Fuller and Aaron Tanner.
“We’ve got to be more physical to compete in our division,” said Barber, who saw his team fall to 0-6 against the North in 2008.
Mechanicville coach Kevin Collins can’t wait for the season to start.
“We had a great preseason, a really good scrimmage,” he said.
“Everything’s been so upbeat and positive. I haven’t been this excited about a season since my first.”
A key for the Red Raiders, who missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker last fall, will be an experienced, athletic line. Seniors Sam Chase, Tim Fensterer, Adam Fensterer and David Kohls will be joined by soph Chris Hatalsky up front.
Quarterback Nick Gaetano and running backs John Abele and David Guynup stand to benefit.
Cambridge was an uncharacteristic 4-5 a year ago, and will look to a backfield of Kyle Parmenter, Alex Bell and Matt Best to bounce back.
Hoosick Falls quarterback Mike Brewster will have a variety of options in receivers Greg Stifter, Logan O’Brien and Kevin McMahon, as well as returning running back Alex Hansen.
Jordan Charbonneau, Clint Dumoulin and Zach Bourdeau are the top returners at Corinth.
Fonda-Fultonville went 6-1 in the South and 7-2 overall, reaching the semifinals, led by the graduated throw-and-catch combo of Josh Nethaway and Kevin Hanson.
Seth Hidde takes over at quarterback on a senior-laden team that will feature wideout Tyler Hall (14 TD catches in ’08), tight end Luke Nethaway and running back Blake Hart. Co-captain Cody Headwell anchors the line.
“We still want to be 50-50,” said Carpenter of the Braves’ offense which, like the defense, returns six starters. “We want to spread it around, and not let other teams key on any one player.”
Watervliet finished third in the South, but knocked off Hoosick Falls and division champ Chatham en route to the Class C title last season. Repeating might be out of the question.
“We have one starter — one — back,” said Cannoneers coach Erick Bernard. “And he [Ian Kelly] could miss the first two games. We also had 18 fewer players come out this year.”
Voorheesville coach Joe Sapienza is confident his Blackbirds can turn around a disappointing 1-6, 2-7 season.
Quarterback Ryan Duncan is one of nine returning offensive starters, which includes the entire line. Six starters are back on offense.
“We were very disappointed last year,” said Sapienza. “But we won our last game, and we want to build on that.”
Canajoharie moves up from Class D to play in the South. Quarterback Peyton Stahler, wideout Dane O’Neil and running back Dylan Slater return for the Cougars, who were a playoff semifinalist in 2008.
League MVP Derrtick Pitts led Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons to a 6-3 record fall, the school’s best season since 1972. Tom Pallas, the Golden Griffins’ new coach, isn’t about to tinker with that success.
“He’s our catalyst, obviously,” said Pallas of Pitts, who ran for over 1,700 yards and scored 202 points as a junior. “Other teams are aware of that, too.”
Pitts will be under center, and move to a back when senior Joe Sise comes in.
“We want to get Joe some time,” said Pallas. “That also gives us more options with Derrick.”
Pallas is also looking for big seasons from soph Johnny Villaneuva, senior Robert Redman and returning interior linemen Josh Flynn and Matt Butrym.
Saratoga Central Catholic will be in its second varsity season since reviving the program. Coach Phonsey Lambert wants his returning players to learn from last year, and continue to improve.
Dylan Anderson is back under center for the Saints, with Dale Long, Jeremy Furey and Dave Mulcahy in the backfield.
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Categories: High School Sports, Sports