Hildebrand helps Sabres finish 7-0 (with photo gallery)

Schalmont is once again the best in the West.

Alex Hildebrand scored four touchdowns three d


Schalmont is once again the best in the West.

Alex Hildebrand scored four touchdowns three different ways, and the resilient Sabres locked up their fourth straight Class B West Division championship with a 26-14 homecoming win over Schuylerville Saturday night.

“We had some scares at times, but we stepped up,” said Hildebrand. “We got the job done, and I’ll tell you, it feels great.”

Hildebrand ran for two touchdowns, caught a Niko Nicoletti pass for another and returned a blocked punt into the end zone as part of Schalmont’s 25th consecutive victory against area competition. The senior also intercepted a pass, and four of his teammates recovered fumbles.

The Sabres (5-0, 7-0) had their share of turnovers, too, losing a pair of fumbles while Nic­oletti was picked off twice.

“Those things happen,” said Schalmont coach Joe Whipple. “Whoever faces that adversity and looks it in the eye and responds, that team is going to have the best chance to win. That was us.”

Devon Willis had his sixth 100-plus yard rushing game for the state’s No. 5-ranked team, with the sophomore gaining 146 on 23 attempts, and Hildebrand produced his third and fourth touchdowns on drives immediately after Schuylerville (3-2, 5-2) scored.

His first two touchdowns staked Schalmont to a 12-0 halftime advantage in the game that not only settled the division title, but also its No. 1 playoff seed.

“He does it in different ways. He’s a playmaker. That’s the bottom line,” Whipple said of Hildebrand, one of the key holdovers from last year’s 12-1 state runner-up team. “He’s probably one of the best players in the B’s.”

Hildebrand gave Schalmont a 26-14 lead with 6:03 left in the game when he took a screen pass and raced 30 yards for his final touchdown to cap a 10-play, 70-yard march. Schuylerville quarterback Ryan Mulligan fumbled the ball and Jamie Zalewski recovered to end the Black Horses’ ensuing possession, and the Sabres ran out the clock.

“Turnovers. The same thing happened last year,” Mulligan said in reference to Schuylerville’s 13-0 Week 7 loss to the Sabres. “We had six turnovers last year, and they killed us again. You can’t win a game with turnovers.”

Both teams fumbled the ball away twice in the opening quarter, with Hildebrand’s 23-yard touchdown run coming on the third play after a Pete Kalil recovery.

Jean Gomes blocked a punt and Hildebrand returned the ball 21 yards for his second touchdown late in the second period.

“I saw it bounce around,” said Hildebrand. “The thing going in my mind was, ‘Stay on your feet and take it in.’ They might have thought the ball was be dead. Coach [Mike] DiCocco always says to try to score on every play.”

Schuylerville players hesitated when Hildebrand picked up the football after Gomez’ block, and Hildebrand ran free his touchdown.

“He’s one of the smartest football players we’ve got,” said Whipple. “That didn’t surprise us that he picked the ball up and continued to go until the whistle.”

James Perry returned the second-half kickoff 80 yards for a Schuylerille touchdown, and Schalmont quickly answered on a seven-yard run by Hildebrand, a 54-yard dash by Willis, and Hildebrand’s 12-yard burst to the end zone. Willis followed with a two-point run.

An interception by Schuylerville’s Dan Waldron and 22 yard return put the ball at the Schalmont two, and Mulligan ran for one yard and then another for the touchdown with seconds left in the third quarter. Ray Rodriguez’ second PAT made it 20-14.

“This was good for us heading into the playoffs,” said Whipple. “They’re a good team and they gave us a test. We faced some adversity and overcame it.”

Schalmont used last year’s win over Schuylerville as a springboard toward its second straight Section II Class B championship. Schalmont’s last sectional defeat came in the 2008 quarterfinals when Hudson upset the then

No. 1-seeded Sabres, 13-12. Those teams will meet against next week.

Schuylerville 0 0 14 0 — 14

Schalmont 6 6  8 6 — 26

Schal — Hildebrand 23 run (kick blocked).

Schal — Hildebrand 21 blocked put return (pass failed).

Schuy — Perry 80 kickoff return (Rodriguez kick).

Schal — Hildebrand 12 run (Willis run).

Schuy — Mulligan 1 run (Rodriguez kick).

Schal — Hildebrand 30 pass from Nicoletti (run failed).

Categories: High School Sports

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