The Schenectady football team is moving forward, rather than dwelling on the past.
Following a difficult one-point loss at Shenendehowa last week, the Patriots open defense of their Class AA Liberty Division championship tonight at Shaker.
“After the game, we were very clear with the kids,” first-year Schenectady coach Jim Kramer said of the 28-27 crossover defeat Friday, the first game contested on the new turf at Steuerwald Stadium. “We told them, ‘We came to prove that we could play at the upper echelon of AA football,’ and we proved that to ourselves. ‘Now, we’re zero and zero in division play, and the first game is very important to get off on the right foot.’”
Shenendehowa won Friday’s game in the closing seconds when Cody Case-Therrien scored a touchdown and then ran for a two-point conversion. Television replays of the conversion showed that Case-Therrien’s knee touched the turf before the ball in his outstretched hand crossed the goal line.
“I think the most important thing, as upsetting as it was, is the class our kids showed afterward,” Kramer said. “We didn’t necessarily like what happened, but we went through the line [to shake hands] with no problems and came to an agreement that we’ll take it in course.
“We’ll learn from this and try to put ourselves in positions where we control what happens.”
After Kramer gave his Patriots Saturday off, work toward that end continued at an upbeat level.
“The kids were upset after the game, but they came back Sunday and had a great practice,” said Kramer. “We’ve had a great week of practice getting ready for Shaker.”
Shaker is the only team that was able to beat Schenectady in the 2008 regular season, though the Patriots had the Liberty Division title wrapped up before that 17-7 setback.
“The kids are excited to go out and play them,” Kramer said. “We think Shaker is a very good football team.”
The Patriots believe they are, too. They opened their season by forcing five fumbles in a 47-20 victory over Albany. Shaker edged Albany last week, 7-0, in a successful bounce-back after bowing to Shenendehowa to begin the season, 27-14.
“Our goal is simple: win the division,” said Kramer. “Step one is Shaker. We want to show up and perform to the best of our abilities. If we do that, good things will happen.”
Many good things happened last week for Schenectady, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, where quarterback Tim Cox ran for two touchdowns, including a seven-yard sprint which broke a 20-20 tie in the final quarter. Herman Seise and D’Metri Gilbert also ran for touchdowns, and Seise led the Pats’ ground effort with 103 yards.
“Our focus, and we emphasized it to the line, was to improve our running game,” said Kramer. “We did that, and we’ll look to carry that over. What we showed is we have a diverse running game, and each guy contributes in different ways.”
Jaquell Chandler provided Shaker with its lone touchdown last week, and Anthony Pascarella ran for a pair of key first downs late as the Blue Bison sealed their victory. Pascarella ran for 112 yards and a touchdown in the loss to Shenendehowa.
“They’ll run and pass. They’ll line up in different formations and attack what they perceive as your weakness,” Kramer said of Shaker. “Defensively, they’re quick, and they tackled well against Albany. They’ll present a challenge.”
More games tonight
Shenendehowa travels to streaking Ballston Spa tonight to open Class AA Empire Division play. The Scotties blanked Columbia, 42-0, and steamrolled Bethlehem, 61-13, in crossover games. Quarterback Mark Seager ran for three touchdowns in the Scotties’ opener, and passed for two last week.
“They’re not just a quarterback. They have a talented, experienced football team. They have seven offensive starters back and six defensive starters back,” said Shenendehowa coach Brent Steuerwald. “We’ll have our hands full. We have a major challenge.”
Steuerwald said his star tailback, Suhayb Banks, is questionable for the game after sustaining a knee injury against Schenectady. Banks scored the first touchdown on Shenendehowa’s new field on an 18-yard reception, and had 51 rushing yards in the opening quarter before going down.
“He’s an impact player on offense and defense, and he’s a leader out there,” said Steuerwald. “If he cannot go, we’ll miss him terribly.”
Case-Therrien saw increased time with Banks out last week, and rushed for 114 yards.
Guilderland (1-1) goes to Christian Brothers Academy (0-2) for another Empire Division opener tonight, while LaSalle (2-0) hosts Colonie (1-1) and Columbia (0-2) plays at Bethlehem (1-1) in Liberty Division openers.
In Class A Southeast Division openers, Averill Park (1-1) is at Bishop Maginn (1-1), and Niskayuna (1-1) is at Mohonasen (0-2). Albany Academy (2-0) goes to Ravena- Coeymans-Selkirk (1-1) for a Class B Reinfurt Division opener.