Experience gained in last season’s semifinal loss may help Sabres today

Schalmont (11-0) has met every challenge presented thus far, putting together its first perfect regu
Schalmont’s Alberto Beltran celebrates a touchdown earlier this season. The Sabres face Croton-Harmon today in the state semifinals.
Schalmont’s Alberto Beltran celebrates a touchdown earlier this season. The Sabres face Croton-Harmon today in the state semifinals.

Schalmont’s football team took a beating on the scoreboard and in a physical sense the last time it played at Dietz Stadium in Kingston.

That 28-7 state semifinal loss to Nanuet ended what had been a breakthrough 2009 season for the Sabres, who had never tasted postseason success before. The final gulp did not go down so well.

“I don’t expect it to be a deer-in-the-headlights thing like last year,” Schalmont coach Joe Whipple said of today’s Class B semifinal matchup with Croton-Harmon. “We’re very eager to play this game. We’re embracing the challenge of fighting the ghosts we had last year.”

Schalmont (11-0) has met every challenge presented thus far, putting together its first perfect regular season before emerging from Section II with wins over Cairo-Durham, Albany Academy and Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk. The Sabres cleared the regional hurdle with a 38-7 triumph over Ogdensburg Free Academy, and Croton-Harmon (Section I, 10-0) defeated New Paltz last week, 27-0, to set up the 4 p.m. game at Dietz Stadium.

“We’re excited about this game,” said Whipple, whose team has moved up two spots to No. 3 in the state rankings. “We’re not just happy to be there, and I mean all of us — the players and the staff. We know it’s going to be a tough game, and we’re ready for it.”

Schalmont rallied from an early deficit last week and pulled away from Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk after the Indians forged a first-quarter tie. The response against Ogdensburg came in the form of five unanswered touchdowns and a field goal, while the Sabres rattled off five unanswered touchdowns in pushing aside Ravena.

“When they face adversity, they know they can bounce back, and bounce back quick,” said Whipple. “They take it on the chin and keep going.”

Schalmont didn’t produce a touchdown in last year’s semifinal until the last quarter, after Nanuet struck for 14 first-half points, and 14 more in the third frame.

“Last year in this game, we didn’t get rolling until the third quarter,” said Whipple.

Schalmont limped into that game and was hurting even more afterward. The Sabres will have their full complement of players today, with standout guard/defensive end Dalton LaTulipe returning to the lineup after missing last week with a broken

hand sustained in the Ravena game.

“Physically, we were not healthy at all [against Nanuet]. This year, we’re a lot more healthy,” said Whipple. “Everyone is OK. We’ll have no excuses.”

Schalmont will be facing an opponent similar to itself in several respects.

“They mirror us on offense in that they have a good, fast running back in [Matt] Tralli, and they run a lot of jet sweep. They also have a good quarterback [Jesse Mainero] who doesn’t throw much, but when he does, he can,” said Whipple. “They also have a stingy defense that runs well and tackles well. They have all of the intangibles you need to get here and beyond.”

Croton-Harmon notched its third shutout last week — it has surrendered seven points or less seven times — and Tralli rambled for 142 yards, with a touchdown rushing and receiving. Mainero and Kevin Soares both added over 100 rushing yards and a touchdown for the state’s No. 2-ranked team.

Jaren Ramundo ran for three touchdowns and 171 yards for Schalmont last week, Alberto Beltran ran for 115 yards, and, like, Devon Willis, delivered a touchdown. J.J. Murphy added a field goal, helped anchor the defense from his linebacker spot and was a key factor on the offensive line.

Hornell (Section V, 11-0) and Chenango Valley (Section IV, 10-1) meet in the other Class B semifinal today in Rochester. The state title game is a week from Sunday at 6 p.m. Hornell is ranked No. 1 in the state and the defending champion after beating Nanuet a year ago at the Carrier Dome, 16-14.

Troy (11-0) makes its first state Class AA semifinal appearance since 2000 tonight at 8 against New Rochelle (Section I, 9-0). New

Rochelle beat Troy in the semi­final round that year, 24-22, ending the Flying Horses’ bid for a fifth straight title-game berth.

Last week, Troy rallied past the state’s then-No. 1-ranked team in Monroe-Woodbury, 32-21, behind Jordan Canzeri’s two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Canzeri also scored on a punt return and rushed for 172 yards in a win that pushed Troy up to No. 2 in the state rankings behind St. Anthony (CHSFL, 10-0).

Categories: High School Sports

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