Spartans expect first real test against Huskies

Scotia-Glenville and Niskayuna didn’t give the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake football team much of a tes
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Scotia-Glenville and Niskayuna didn’t give the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake football team much of a test in the opening weeks of the season. Spartans coach Matt Shell expects that to change tonight in a Class A home meeting with Gloversville.

“They’ve got a good group of kids, good athletes, good leadership. They’re definitely a quality football team,” said Shell, who’ll match strategic wits with Gloversville coach Tom Ciaccio, his longtime friend and former teammate with the Huskies. “We’ll find out just where we’re at, what we’re made of.”

Gloversville defeated Mohonasen in its season debut, 40-12, and took out 2008 Section II Class A runner-up Bishop Maginn last week, 51-6, to set up tonight’s Northwest Div­ision opener with the state’s No-2 ranked team.

Gloversville is ranked No. 15 on the state sportswriters’ first poll of the season, and is eyeing its first 3-0 start since 2000.

“All division games are big, but being the opener, it’s important because you want to get off on the right foot,” Shell said.

Burnt Hills began its season that way with a 46-14 victory over Scotia-Glenville before the reigning Section II champs spotted Niskayuna an early touchdown last week in a 46-7 triumph. Those results extended Burnt Hills’ winning streak against Section II teams to 12.

Burnt Hills also has a seven-game winning streak against Gloversville since Shell took over the program from Ed Ronca in 2002, including last year’s 45-0 rout, and boasts a 13-game division winning streak, as well.

“Both of our offenses have been scoring. Both of our defenses have been limiting scores,” Shell said. “You have to limit big plays, and when you get opportunitues, you have to take advantage of them. In every game, opportunities present themselves.”

Burnt Hills cashed in aplenty the last two weeks, with first-year starting quarterback Phil Neumann firing five touchdown passes and running for a pair. Keaton Flint caught three of those scoring passes, Tyler Paluba hauled in two, and Brandon Beatty twice rushed for over 100 yards with a touchdown in each contest.

On the flip side, Burnt Hills’ starting defense, anchored by 6-foot-5 ends Jacob Meyers and Zach Morton, has surrendered just one touchdown.

“Our defense is going to have to play at a high level. They’ve got to play a quality game,” said Shell. “We can’t have too many guys thinking one thing. They’ve got to trust what they see, react and play hard.”

Gloversville will attack with several form­ations and with a large cast of capable athletes, led by three-year starting quarterback Chad McCloskey, who has thrown two of his three touchdowns to Aaron Hill. His running backs include Connor Burns, Nick DiPasquale and Mike Johnson, who have accounted for eight touchdowns, and they’ll operate behind a line centered by Zach Handy.

“They have veteran leadership in key spots, starting with McCloskey,” Shell said. “He’s smart and he has a good arm. He does a real good job for them.”

Scotia-Glenville will host Troy (2-0) in tonight’s other Class A game, a Southeast Division opener for both.

Among five Class C games tonight is the Indian Bowl matching Mechanicville (1-1) and host Stillwater (0-2) on the Warriors’ new turf field. Mechanicville won last year’s contest, 17-0.

Categories: High School Sports

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