Sabres hope to turn tables on Knights

Schalmont did some positive things on both sides of the ball the last time it squared off with Lansi
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Schalmont did some positive things on both sides of the ball the last time it squared off with Lansingburgh. The Knights did a little more.

“We’re a much different team right now,” Sabres first-year coach Joe Whipple said. “We’re no longer rookies. The kids have progressed a great deal.”

How much so will be seen in today’s Section II Class B championship at 2 p.m. at Schenectady High School. Schalmont will bring a seven-game winning streak into its first Super Bowl against a Lansingburgh team that’s making its seventh title-game appearance in eight years.

Three other sectional finals are scheduled for today and tonight, including the much-anticipated 7 p.m. Class A showdown between unbeatens Troy and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake at Shenendehowa.

“Lansingburgh has been one of the premier programs in the area the last several years,” Whipple said of the four-time champions, who won their last title at the Class A level in 2007, against Burnt Hills. “We want to establish Schalmont as a football program. To get to the Super Bowl and win it, that would help us do that.”

Lansingburgh (8-1) won the first meeting at Schalmont in the second week of the season, 42-29, after using a three-touchdown spurt to break away from a 7-6, first-half lead. Schalmont also dropped a 35-18 decision against Albany Academy to open its season, and avenged that loss with a 32-12 quarterfinal win.

Schalmont (7-2) had never won a playoff game before that, and added another milestone with a 55-14 semifinal rout of Cohoes in which running back-turned-quarterback Vince Gallo rambled for 300 yards and four touchdowns, and Shawn Schellenger made nine tackles.

“I think our chances are pretty good,” Whipple said. “We have to play close to a perfect game to beat them, but I think we’ll be able to compete at a different level than in Week 2. The kids believe in each other. They really do.”

Lansingburgh is coming off a 52-35 semifinal win over Hudson Falls in which quarterback T.J. McLaughlin ran for two touchdowns and passed for two. The Knights got a payback win against Broadalbin-Perth before that, 35-0, in the quarterfinals.

“Everyone knows about their running game and their double-wing offense, but they can throw the ball, too,” said Whipple. “That’s what’s scary about them. They make it difficult to defend.”

McLaughlin had three touchdown passes in Lansingburgh’s win at Schalmont, to Tyrone Nichols, Kynan Vandenburgh and Terrance Kemp, and Nichols also ran for a score and 172 yards.

“We’ll do what we can to contain them,” Whipple said of the state’s No. 10-ranked team. “Shutting them out is not a realistic goal.”

Beating the Knights, however, is. Broadalbin-Perth proved it’s possible when it stunned the Knights in Week 6, 23-20, to knock them from the No. 1 state ranking.

“Our kids are excited and confident,” said Whipple, whose team comes in with a No. 17 state ranking and a chance to set a program record for wins. “We’ve been executing better on offense every week, and our defense has been great during our seven-game win streak.”

Unbeatens collide

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (9-0) will go after its third championship in four years against Section II’s stingiest defensive team in Troy (9-0). The Flying Horses have surrendered 34 points, and more than one touchdown only once, in last week’s 28-13 victory over Gloversville.

“They’ve obviously got a first-class defense,” said BH-BL coach Matt Shell. “You don’t get many opportunities against a defense like that. When you get your chances, you have to cap­italize.”

Gloversville, like so many teams before, was unable to do so. Troy made three defensive stops inside its own 10-yard line, and Jordan Canzeri rushed for three touchdowns and 274 yards as the Flying Horses reached their first final since 2003.

“That’s a big thing in every game. You can’t turn it over, and you’ve got to capitalize on opportunities,” said Burnt Hills quarterback Phil Neumann.

The Spartans have been awfully good at that, and have produced 40 points or more in eight games. Neumann threw for 116 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s 49-20 win over Niskayuna, Brandon Beatty ran for 124 yards and Evan Nusbaum ran for 100. Beatty, Nusbaum and Tyler Paluba acconted for two touchdowns apiece as the Spartans advanced to their fourth consecutive final.

“They know what’s at stake,” said Shell. “They know they have to play their best game or it could be a long night. All three phases have to be working.”

“We’ve got to play our game,” said Neumann, who has excelled since taking over for three-year starter Paul Layton. “We’ve got to execute. We’ve got to put a solid game together.”

Troy has been solid on both sides, with its offense generating 30 points or more in every game before last week’s semifinal battle. Troy will oppose a BH-BL defense that has surrendered more than two touchdowns only twice.

“They’ve got a physical line, a good quarterback, good running backs,” Shell said. “We’ve got to tackle. We’ve got to play well defensively.”

Troy steamrolled Glens Falls in its quarterfinal game, 40-7, while Burnt Hills beat Averill Park, 49-0, after racing to a 28-0 first-quarter lead. Burnt Hills is ranked No. 2 in the state, and Troy is No. 6.

“Troy is a deserving team,” Shell said. “They did a lot of good things to be in this position.”

Troy is making its ninth title-game appearance. It has won six times under coach Jack Burger at the Class AA and A levels, including five straight from 1996-2000.

Chatham (9-0) goes after its first Section II title-game victory in tonight’s Class C matchup at 7 with Hoosick Falls (9-0) at Stillwater. Rensselaer (8-1) goes after its second straight Class D championship and eighth title in all when the Rams take on Greenwich (7-2) at 2 at Shenendehowa.

Categories: High School Sports

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