Sabres can’t help peeking around corner

Schalmont and Marlboro played for a spot in the state Class B championship game last November, and t

Schalmont and Marlboro played for a spot in the state Class B championship game last November, and the Sabres won in a big way.

A record-setting big way.

“I think Nick [Gallo] said it best after we beat Peru,” Schalmont coach Joe Whipple said following his team’s workout Tuesday. “We look at Maine-Endwell. They look at us.”

Maine-Endwell ended Schalmont’s fabulous 2013 season with a 22-21 comeback win at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, and the Sabres would enjoy nothing more than a return engagement. Schalmont ended Marlboro’s season the week before in Kingston with a 66-0 triumph, those 66 points the most for a Section II state participant and No. 2 on the all-time tournament record list.

Marlboro (Section IX, 9-2) gets its East Region rematch today at 3 at Dietz Stadium.

“By no means are we looking past them. They have enough,” said Whipple. “We watched them, and we know they’re good. We’ve got a lot of respect for them. They’ve been to the semifinals a few times, obviously for a reason. It should be a good game.”

Marlboro has taken a different path to today’s game, starting 1-2 against Class A competition before bouncing back with a new cast of lead characters including quarterback Ray Pacella and running back Rino Tamburri.

“They definitely have changed personnel. Last year, they leaned on their quarterback [Ryan Cary] and running back [Marcus Faircloth]. This year, they’ve got a lot of people contributing offensively. That makes it scary,” said Whipple. “On defense, they fly around. They’re not overly big, but they’re very athletic and very fast. Definitely dangerous.”

Tamburri ran for 185 yards and three touchdowns, and Pacella ran and passed for scores in Marlboro’s 38-21 regional win against Our Lady of Lourdes. That game featured 31 unanswered points by the Iron Dukes, two touchdowns within 47 seconds starting the run.

The Iron Dukes beat John S. Burke for their fourth straight Section IX title, 25-13, and thumped Dover in their semifinal, 61-7.

“They’re good. We’ve seen enough film to know,” said Whipple. “They’re better than last year.”

Schalmont took last year’s unbeaten Marlboro team by storm with three touchdowns in quick succession followed by a 40-point second quarter that included Hunter Gac’s blocked punt and scoring return, and three TD runs and a TD pass by Gallo.

“Momentum is big. We have to have momentum on our side,” said Whipple. “The biggest thing is defense and special teams.”

Devin Higgins’ returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown last week, and Schalmont stiffened defensively with the game tied at 14-14 in a 60-20 regional win over Peru. Gac and Gallo both ran for three touchdowns, and Gallo surpased the 1,000-yard rushing and 1,000-yard passing marks. The senior quarterback has been on a scoring roll, with four touchdowns in Schalmont’s 40-8 Section II title-game win over Schuylerville, and five TDs in the Sabres’ 49-0 semifininal win over Broadalbin-Perth.

Schalmont’s will be bolstered with the return of sophomore runner/linebacker Cameron Brooks (back), who this week, along with two-way lineman Matt Capovani, was named a two-way first-team Class B Reinfurt Division all-star.

“As dynamic as he [Brooks] is on offense, his main asset to us will be his defense,” said Whipple. “He has shown dramatic improvement on defense.”

Glens Falls beat Marlboro in a 2012 state semifinal, 28-17, giving the Iron Dukes even more incentive to advance.

Maine-Endwell (Section IV, 11-0) and Cheektowaga (Section VI, 9-2) meet Sunday at 3 in the Class B West Region game at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester. Maine-Endwell beat Homer last week, 27-10, for its 49th consecutive win. That streak includes state title-game wins over Glens Falls (Class B) in 2012 and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in 2011 (Class A).

The state Class B final is Sunday, Nov. 30, at the Carrier Dome at noon.

Categories: High School Sports

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