Which Schenectady football team is going to show up tonight at Christian Brothers Academy?
Will it be the one that knocked off Shaker and Niskayuna in consecutive weeks to give the program its record fifth straight Section II Class AA playoff berth?
Or will it be the one that lost to LaSalle Saturday in a costly defeat that sent the Patriots on the road for the quarterfinals?
“Our word is consistency. We preach consistency, consistency, consistency all the time,” said Schenectacy coach Jim Kramer. “When we play four quarters, we’re a good football team. We know if we do that, we’ll be in the game.
“Sometimes, inconsistency has come back and haunted us.”
It’s been an up-and-down season for the young Patriots, who opened with a win over Colonie before dropping three in a row to Ballston Spa in overtime, three-time defending Section II Class A champ Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake and Liberty Division titlist Columbia.
“We know we’re one of eight teams in the playoffs, and we know the challenge ahead of us,” said Kramer. “We’ve worked hard this week to make sure we have a good, competitive showing.”
Schenectady and CBA have never met in a sectional football game. The Brothers won the last time the teams played midway through the 2006 season, 49-16, and went on to claim the Class AA championship.
“We’re young, and we’ve got a ton of kids who are brand new to the playoffs, but they’re excited about this game, and ready for this game,” said Kramer. “Our division has prepared us to play in a big environment. Our division is tough. Everyone is battle tested. Each of us had to grind it out.”
Schenectady’s last division game started well. The Patriots made a defensive stop with their backs to the end zone and quickly scored on a touchdown run by Felix Rodriguez, but lost steam afterward in Saturday’s 39-13 homefield loss to LaSalle.
“Their defense is a lot better than they showed against LaSalle,” said CBA coach Joe Burke. “I’ve seen them on film. They’ve got a pretty good defense.”
While LaSalle quarterback Garrett Delory passed for three touchdowns and Mitch Connolly booted a pair of field goals for LaSalle, Schenectady managed only scoring runs by Rodriguez and Hassan Rainey.
“We didn’t play our best football,” Kramer said. “We are capable of playing a lot better. We had too many offensive penalties that put us in second-and-long and third-and-long and put us in predictable situations. We have to finish drives.”
CBA (6-1) did that well, and sewed up the Empire Division’s No. 2 seed, with a 33-7 triumph at Ballston Spa last Friday. Cody Zappone rushed for 182 yards and two touchdowns, both coming in the first half on bursts of 72 and 46 yards, as the Brothers raced to a 27-0 lead.
“That was a huge win. We were reeling, and I told the guys we’ve got to get it together and get ready for another big game,” said Burke. “The kids went out and played great, and got a nice win going into the playoffs.”
CBA suffered its only loss the week before at Shenendehowa, 42-0.
“It meant so much to our program to bounce back and win in convincing fashion,” said Burke. “Our guys are going into the playoffs feeling good about themselves.”
“You’re looking at a one-loss Ballston Spa team, and they [CBA] handled them pretty well,” said Kramer. “CBA is a very good football team. There’s a reason we’re on the road and there’s a reason they’re at home. We know we have to play good football. We have to limit our mistakes and cause them to make mistakes.”
Kramer is hoping for the kind of start his team enjoyed against LaSalle, but wants the big plays to keep on coming like they did in a dramatic 35-34 Week 6 overtime win against Niskayuna. Schenectady (3-4), the Liberty Division No. 3 seed, edged Shaker before that, 21-19.
“Any time you go on the road and take an early lead and get momentum going, the kids automatically know they’re in a ball game,” said Kramer. “We talk all the time about momentum. When you have it, you want to ride it. When they have it, you have to shut it down quickly.”
With running backs Cameron Wynn, Earl Rickets and Zappone, quarterback Teddy Cillis and receivers Peter Luizzi, Torey Williams and Pete Rustowicz, CBA has numerous offensive options.
“CBA has a lot of weapons. They’ve got multiple running backs, a good combintation on the line with big guys who can move, good receivers and a good lefty quarterback,” said Kramer.
“In order to beat Schenectady, we’re going to have to throw the ball,” said Burke. “They like to put eight in the box, and we’ve got to loosen them up to make it easier to run the ball.”
Guilderland (No. 4, 4-3) goes to Columbia (No. 1, 6-1) tonight, with that winner taking on either CBA or Schenectady in the semifinals. Shenendehowa (No. 1, 7-0) hosts Shaker (No. 4, 3-4) and LaSalle
(No. 2, 4-3) entertains Ballston Spa (No. 3, 5-2) in other Class AA quarters.
“It doesn’t matter what side you’re on,” said Burke. “If you get through to the semifinals, you’re in for a tough game.”
In Class A quarters tonight, Queensbury (No. 3, 4-3) plays Bishop Maginn (No. 2, 5-2) at Schenectady’s Larry Mulvaney Field, Lansingburgh (No. 4, 4-3) goes to Amsterdam (No. 1, 7-0), Mohonasen (No. 3, 4-3) travels to three-time defending champ Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (No. 2, 6-1), and Glens Falls (No. 4, 3-4) goes to Troy (No. 1, 7-0). Troy won the Class AA crown last year.
Schalmont (No. 1, 7-0) opens defense of the Class B title it won last year and in 2009 at home against Hudson (No. 4, 2-5). Elsewhere tonight, Schuylerville (No. 3, 5-2) goes to Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk (No. 2, 5-2) ,and Cohoes (No. 3, 3-4) goes to Cobleskill-Richmonville (No. 2, 4-3). Albany Academy (No. 1, 5-2) hosts Hudson Falls (No. 4, 3-4) Saturday.
Two-time defending Class C champ Hoosick Falls (No. 1, 7-0) hosts Taconic Hills (No. 4, 3-4) tonight, and Chatham (No. 3, 4-2) plays at Tamarac (No. 2, 6-1). Saturday’s Class C games will pit Stillwater (No. 4, 4-3) and Fonda-Fultonville (No. 1, 6-0) at Amsterdam, and send Greenwich (No. 3, 5-2) to Watervliet (No. 2, 5-1).
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Categories: High School Sports