Schalmont to play for state title

Schalmont crushes Marlboro, 49-14, in state semifinal football game

Marlboro got the rematch it wanted with Schalmont, and got thumped again.

Zac O’Dell intercepted a pass two snaps into Saturday’s state Class B semifinal game, Nick Gallo ran for a touchdown three plays after that to begin a scoring burst and the Sabres rolled to a 49-14 victory over the Iron Dukes at Dietz Stadium.

Dalton Cooke and Hunter Gac hauled in touchdown passes soon after Gallo’s run, and Devin Higgins put an exclamation point on Schalmont’s 24th win in 25 games with a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown early in the third quarter.

“We were talking about it, how they wanted revenge. We heard some things,” said O’Dell, who had two picks and was selected Schalmont’s standout defensive player. “They were embarrassed last year. We knew they’d come out fired up. We were prepared.”

Schalmont’s defense shined like it did a year ago in this same East Region game, when it blanked Marlboro, 66-0, for the most lopsided result in the history of the state tournament.

“Short field and a pick. That’s all they had. Our defense was phenomenal,” said Schalmont defensive coordinator Mike DiCocco. “They studied film and came out and ran to the ball.

“Everyone wants to make a play on this team. You can’t put a price on that.”

Schalmont will play for the state championship next Sunday (noon) at the Syracuse Carrier Dome against today’s West Region Maine-Endwell (Section IV, 11-0)-Cheektowaga (Section VI, 9-2) winner.

Section II nemesis Maine-Endwell has won 49 straight games, including state Class B title-game victories over Schalmont last year and Glens Falls in 2012, and a state Class A title-game triumph against Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in 2011.

“We’ve been thinking about this since the ride home last year,” said Schalmont head coach Joe Whipple. “I knew if we stayed focused, worked hard in the weight room and continued to study the game, we had a shot.”

Schalmont has been building steam for a potential rematch with Maine-Endwell since last year’s 22-21 setback, when the Spartans scored a late touchdown and then converted a two-point pass. Schalmont lost in its other state final in 2010, against Hornell, 50-20.

“We’ve been looking at that game [state final] since Week 1,” said Gac, who accounted for two touchdowns and ran for 130 yards on 14 carries. “Hopefully, there will be a different outcome … It’s going to be a different outcome.”

The beginning of Saturday’s game looked awfully similar to last year, when Schalmont put up 20 first-quarter points and slammed the door with 40 more before that half.

Schalmont put up 21 in the first quarter of the rematch, starting with Gallo’s 13-yard touchdown run that was set up by O’Dell’s first interception.

“I think that set the tone,” said O’Dell, a 6-foot-5 receiver and defensive back. “Their quarterback underthrew it, and it came right to me.”

Marlboro (Section IX, 9-3) gambled on its second series, going for it on fourth-and-one from its own 33, but quarterback Ray Pacella mishandled a snap and recovered at the 30. On Schalmont’s first play, Gallo hit a streaking Cooke for a touchdown.

Anthony Yezzo’s fired a 43-yard touchdown pass to Gac on Schalmont’s next drive, and a Gac extra point had Schalmont (12-0) on top, 21-0, with 4:27 left in the opening frame. The Sabres scored again in the second quarter on a two-yard burst by Gallo, who had been sidelined for several plays with neck and shoulder pain after taking a sideline hit.

“We got kind of flatter after we built the lead. We weren’t getting it done up front,” said Whipple. “Devin’s return gave us a nice lift.”

That long return came after Marlboro scored twice, first on Rino Tamburri’s one-yard run in the second quarter, which came on the second play after a blocked punt. The Iron Dukes got another touchdown on Tamburri’s 27-yard interception return six plays into the third quarter.

“Our guys bounced back after that pick,” said DiCocco. “Devin’s return was big, and our defense stepped up.”

O’Dell leaped high and snagged another pass by Pacella to end Marlboro’s drive after Higgins’ burst up the middle and down the left sideline.

Cameron Brooks recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter that set up Gac’s eight-yard touchdown run, and Brooks zipped 45 yards for a another score, after missing last week’s win over Peru with a back problem.

“We’re happy to be there again. For us to make it for a third time, it means everything to our school and our community,” said Whipple of the upcoming state title game. “Whether it’s Maine-Endwell or not, it’s going to be a tough, tough game for us.”

Gallo ran for 104 yards on 22 carries.

Marlboro managed 134 yards of offense, and trailed, 21-0, before gaining its first first down.

Schalmont 21 7 7 14 — 49

Marlboro 0 7  7  0 — 14

S — Gallo 13 run (Gac kick).

S — Cooke 30 pass from Gallo (Gac kick).

S — Gac 43 pass from Yezzo (Gac kick).

S — Gallo 2 run (Gac kick).

M — Tamburri 1 run (Mongelli kick).

M — Tamburri 27 interception return (Mongelli kick).

S — iggins 97 kickoff return (Gac kick).

S — Gac 8 run (Gac kick).

S — Brooks 45 run (Patel kick).

Categories: High School Sports

Leave a Reply