Shenendehowa’s Van Galen a leader

Shenendehowa's Ryan Van Galen named The Daily Gazette All-Area Offensive Player of the Year
Shen's quarterback Ryan Van Galen (5) passes the football against Colonie defense during a Class AA football game at Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park on Friday, September 12, 2014.
Shen's quarterback Ryan Van Galen (5) passes the football against Colonie defense during a Class AA football game at Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park on Friday, September 12, 2014.

One of the low points in Ryan Van Galen’s high school football career was soon followed by one of his brightest as he engineered the game-winning drive against Christian Brothers Academy in the Section II Class AA championship game.

Just before, his interception near the goal line appeared to doom Shenendehowa’s hopes for a 12th area title.

“That defined his career. Everyone will remember the Super Bowl-winning drive,” said Shenendehowa coach Brian Clawson. “After the interception, he could have gone the other way. Instead, he led us down the field and we won. It was a great moment.”

The Daily Gazette Offensive Player of the Year had a bunch of them this season, but his Super Bowl bounce-back was something extra special, when he hooked up with Jordan Zlogar four times for 62 of the 71 yards the Plainsmen needed to go ahead. His last toss to Zlogar covered 36 yards and took the ball to the four, and Matt Taft followed with a touchdown run with 1:42 left in the pulsating 25-20 victory.

“He didn’t care who got credit. That’s the way a great leader thinks,” said Clawson, who saw his record-breaking senior quarterback complete 18 of 30 passes for 297 yards that night.

“After his throw to Jordan, I called a timeout, and in the huddle he said, ‘Coach, let’s run it in.’ We called a run play, and we scored.”

Van Galen threw one of his school-record 23 touchdown passes in the Super Bowl, and those 297 yards were part of his 2,137 total, which established another Shenendehowa mark and stands sixth on the all-time area list. Just ahead of Van Galen is Clawson, who piled up 2,150 yards for Johns­town in 1990.

“It was all about offseason preparation. We knew he had the physical tools,” said Clawson. “After last season, we met and we talked about things he needed to improve on, and he went right to work. And I’m not talking about the summer. He started right away, in November. You could see him grow.”

Van Galen’s 117 completions, 202 attempts this season and the 337 yards he amassed against Saratoga Springs also set Shenendehowa records.

“I do an evaluation with the juniors after every season. When I met with Ryan, I said, ‘You are going to be our starting quarterback. You are the guy. You are going to lead us to the promised land,’ ” said Clawson, who had Van Galen and then-senior Ben Sibson split time last year. “I think that really solidified his confidence. He took it and ran with it.”

The Class AA Empire Division Player of the Year had five games with three touchdown passes, threw at least one scoring strike in all 12 of Shenendehowa’s games, and was intercepted only five times in his magnificant season.

“He’s the type of kid who does all of the right things, on and off the field,” said Clawson. “The kind of season he had, it couldn’t have happened to a better person.”

Van Galen is joined on the All-Area first team by Zlogar, Taft, the guy who got him the ball in center Dan Busold and the guy who protected his blind side in tackle Theo Slepski.

Zlogar moved to the top of the all-time Section II list for receiving yards with 1,182 on 59 receptions, 10 of those grabs coming against CBA and eight more coming afterward in a 27-20 regional win against John Jay-East Fishkill.

“It was Batman and Robin with those two. It’s a connection that started when they were on the junior varsity,” Clawson said of Van Galen and Zlogar. “Ryan knew where to put the ball, and Jordan knew where he was going to throw it. It was a telepathy thing.”

Zlogar six times surpassed 100 receiving yards, with a high of 192 against Ballston Spa, and totaled 12 touchdowns to go with three interceptions. The Empire Division Offensive Player of the Year caught a pair of TD passes against John Jay, and had two of his interceptions in the Super Bowl.

Taft was a model of consistency, running 163 times for 1,341 yards while scoring in each of Shenendehowa’s 12 games.

“He has a nose for the end zone like no one else,” said Clawson. “An example was the Super Bowl, when he scored the winning touchdown.”

The senior ran for 21 touchdowns, caught two scoring passes, and his lone interception and end-zone return resulted in the decisive points when the Plainemen held off John Jay in the state quarterfinals.

Taft had eight games with over 100 rushing yards and two other games with over 90.

“He’s that rare combination of power and speed,” said Clawson. “He can pound it between the tackles, and when he breaks into the second level, he’s outstanding.”

2,000-yard CLUB

Running backs Chase

DeLosSantos of Mechanicville and Bryan Stanavich joined Van Galen in the 2,000-yard club, though the Gazette first-team stars went about it in different ways.

DeLosSantos willed his way to 2,109 rushing yards on 215 carries for the seventh-highest total in Section II history. The senior ran for over 300 yards twice, including 328 against Stillwater, and had four other outings with over 200.

“He’s a pretty severe asthmatic. We’d spell him here and there, but he plugged away on both sides of the ball,” Mech­anicville coach Kevin Collins said of the Class C Central Division Player of the Year.

DeLosSantos piled up 21 rushing touchdowns, scored on a reception and returned one of his three interceptions for another touchdown. He delivered six touchhdowns against Stillwater, and he put up five against Tamarac.

“Teams were putting eight, nine in the box, and he didn’t have a game under 100 [yards],” said Collins. “He had almost 300 receiving yards. He was one of our leading tacklers. The kid had a great season.”

DeLosSantos scored two touchdowns in the Section II all-senior game.

Stanavich set school records with 1,531 rushing yards on 161 carries and 29 total touchdowns. The junior also hauled in 20 passes for 562 yards and led the Rugged Rams with five interceptions and seven pass breakups from his free safety spot.

“I’d put him up there with anyone in Class AA for his all-purpose performance,” said Amsterdam coach Doug Edick. “He’s a real deal, and the nice thing is I get him for another year.”

Stanavich was held to six rushing yards in a season-opening loss to Cornwall and followed with eight straight triple-digit efforts topped by a 305-yarder against Averill Park.

Stanavich ran for 18 touchdowns, caught seven scoring passes and took back one of his interceptions to the end zone. His special teams work included three touchdowns, two on kickoff returns and another on a punt return.

Senior Hunter Gac of Schalmont completes the All-Area backfield. The Class B Reinfurt Division Offensive Player of Year has rushed for 1,376 yards with a near 12-yard-per-carry average, and has scored 26 of his 28 touchdowns on the ground.

Gac has used his track speed to produce eight 100-plus-yard rushing games, with 144 in a regional win over Peru and 130 in a state semifinal win over Marlboro. Of his 28 TDs, 10 have come in five postseason games.

A season full of acrobatic catches that resulted in an 18-yard average gave Schenectady senior Jayquan Beckford the nod for the Gazette’s second receiver position.

“Jayquan was our go-to guy on offense,” Schenectady coach Mark Cerrone said of the Liberty Division first-team selection. “When we needed a catch, he made it.”

Known as a tremendous route runner with glue-like hands, Beckford caught 31 passes from record-setting quarterback Brandon Gwinner and covered 585 yards with them. He snagged six touchdown passes.

Justin Rohrwasser of Holy Trinity kicked his way onto the All-Area team with a Section II-leading six field goals, including the 37-yard game-winner as time expired in a 23-20 upset of Whitehall.

Five of Rohrwasser’s field goals sailed over 30 yards, and the senior added 14 extra points to go with his quarterback play that netted just over 1,000 passing yards and eight scoring tosses. His only two touchdown runs and one of those scoring strikes came in the Whitehall game.

Rohrwasser delivered his last field goal in the Section II senior game. He was tabbed the Class C Central Division first-team place kicker and punter.

Guards Matt Capovani of Schalmont and Stevon Graham of Bishop Maginn, and University at Albany-bound tackle Griffin Clancy of Saratoga Springs, round out the All-Area offensive line.

Clancy was selected a Class AA Empire Division first-teamer for the second time, while Capovani earned a spot on the Class B Reinfurt Division first-team offense and defense this fall.

Categories: High School Sports

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