Terry Jones took a trip to Dietz Stadium in Kingston last week and watched New Rochelle upend nationally ranked Monroe-Woodbury in a state Class AA regional game.
The Saratoga Springs football coach was impressed with what he saw from the Huguenots, who rallied from an early deficit with three touchdowns and held on late to deal the Crusaders their first defeat.
“They’re the No. 1 team in the state. They’re big, fast, strong and physical,” Jones said of the Blue Streaks’ state semifinal opponent tonight at 8 at Dietz Stadium. “They’re going to be, by far, the best team we’ve seen all year.”
Hoosick Falls and Schalmont will represent Section II in semifinal games before the Saratoga Springs-New Rochelle clash.
Saratoga Springs (9-1) received a state quarterfinal bye after extending its win skein to nine games with a 31-7 thumping of Ballston Spa in the Section II final. The Blue Streaks’ only loss came against LaSalle, 21-16, to open the season.
“There’s advantages and disadvantages,” Jones said of the week off. “The advantage is some kids dealing with injuries were able to heal up some. On the other hand, we were playing pretty well, and you don’t want to go that long without playing.
“It is what it is. We won’t know the impact until we get out there.”
Saratoga will be striving to reach the Carrier Dome in Syracuse for the state championship game a week from Sunday. The Blue Streaks will be battling New Rochelle as well as history, having never tasted victory at the state level in four appearances. Their last, in 2004, ended in a 42-7 quarterfinal loss to Monroe-Woodbury.
“They know what’s at stake. We’re one win from the Carrier Dome, but we’ve got a big hurdle in front of us,” Jones said. “We’re not concerned about anything but New Rochelle. Let’s go out and play our best football against New Rochelle.”
New Rochelle (Section I, 10-0) was elevated to the No. 1 state ranking with its 21-14 win over Monroe-Woodbury, which was No. 1 in New York coming into that contest, and was No. 5 on the USA Today East Region poll.
Monroe-Woodbury appeared in the last four state Class AA title games, and had used victories over New Rochelle the last three years as a steppingstone.
“New Rochelle is good, but I think we’re a pretty good football team, too,” said Jones, whose Blue Streaks, ranked No. 10 in the state, blanked Schenectady (32-0) and beat Colonie (34-6) in their other playoff games. “We’ve played some good teams. If we go out and play well, we can pose some problems.”
Saratoga maintained field position and took advantage of its red-zone opportunities in each of its three Section II postseason wins. Luke Fauler threw touchdown passes to Joey Moore and Jon Noonan and ran for a score, Tony DeLoatch ran for a touchdown, Nick Daley kicked a field goal and the Blue Streaks posted a second-half shutout in beating Ballston Spa.
“We’ve got to try to create field position early. Maybe get some turnovers on them,” said Jones. “We’ve got to make things happen and try to get some momentum going.”
New Rochelle has surrendered more than eight points only twice, in a 21-14 win over John Jay of Hopewell Junction, and in its triumph over Monroe-Woodbury. Charles Larrier and Anthony Sappleton capped that victory with quarterback sacks after Monroe-Woodbury reached the New Rochelle 20 in the final minute.
“They’ve got a phenomenal defense. That’s their strong point,” said Jones. “They’re big up front, physical and they have great team speed.”
Lewis Edney threw a touchdown pass to Larrier, and Xavier Walker and Capri Corn ran for touchdowns out of New Rochelle’s wing-T offense, as the Huguenots erased a 7-0 deficit against Monroe-Woodbury and earned a third state tourney game against a Section II foe. New Rochelle beat Troy in a 2000 state semifinal and Shenendehowa 2003 state semifinal.
Hoosick Falls (11-0) and Bronxville (Section I, 10-0) play today at noon in a Class C semifinal. Schalmont (9-2) and Nanuet (Section I, 10-0) meet at 4 in a Class B semifinal.
Categories: High School Sports