Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake quarterback John Clayton was hoping to lead the North to a comeback victory in Thursday night’s Section II Exceptional Seniors football game.
The three-year varsity starter had two opportunities to do that, but with the rain pouring down at Shenendehowa’s Steuerwald Stadium, Clayton tossed a pair of passes that were intercepted.
The second pick, by Dillon Maxwell of Tamarac, sealed the South’s 14-11 victory.
“It was coming down so hard. The conditions weren’t right,” said Clayton, one of the few North and South seniors who played their last football game. “Everybody lost a little focus, but I don’t want to make excuses.
“I was brought up that way at Burnt Hills.”
Clayton said he enjoyed the experience nonetheless.
“I had fun,” said Clayton, who in the future will be pitching for the University at Albany baseball team. “I was with a good group of guys for five days, and that was fun. As for tonight, it was a close game. That’s what you want.”
Clayton said while a win would have been nice, it would not have taken away from the sting of his last outing with the Spartans. That was a 37-7 loss to Amsterdam in the Section II Class A semifinals.
Clayton had guided the Spartans to Super Bowl appearances the previous two years, and Burnt Hills had made it there nine straight times before Amsterdam’s victory.
“Having to walk around and people saying they’re sorry for the loss, people don’t get it,” Clayton said. “You build a bond with everybody. It’s something special. When it gets taken away, it’s like a piece of you is ripped out.”
The South got a pair of touchdowns from Colonie running back Dan Kehrer and then held off the North to end an eight-game slide in the all-senior contest.
“It’s not the same,” Clayton said of the sectionals and Thursday’s game. “You want to win and you try to win, but it doesn’t mean anything. You’re not going to go on.”
The North made it a 14-11 game late in the third quarter when Pete Wilson of Johnstown ran one yard for a touchdown, and Dalton Hogan of Hudson Falls found a diving Kevin Mooney of Holy Trinity with a two-point conversion pass.
Turnovers plagued the North the rest of the way as the rain hammered the turf field.
“I know my team,” Kehrer said. “I knew we’d be able to pull it off.”
Kehrer was a one-man show on the South’s first scoring drive. He carried the ball eight consecutive times for all 49 yards, and scored from the one on his last chug.
“It was an intense experience,” Kehrer said. “It was fun getting the ball on every play.”
Shaker’s Kyle Kessler set up the scoring drive with an interception.
“I didn’t get a pick last week,” Kessler said of Shaker’s 19-14 Class AA Super Bowl loss to Saratoga Springs. “I got a pick here. I’ll remember it forever.”
Jacob Henes of Mechanicville drilled a 30-yard field goal for the North in the second quarter and Kehrer capped the South’s ensuing drive with a three-yard touchown run.
Kehrer had a 21-yard run during the drive, Raki Johnson of Green Tech had
25-yard gain on a reverse, and Paul Kessler of Shaker snared a 21-yard pass to set the stage for Kehrer’s TD.
The North reached the South 2 on its follow-up drive, but lost the ball on a fumble which Jake Smith of Bethlehem recovered.
“It was a great experience,” said Kehrer, who carried the ball 23 times for 124 yards. “So different. You spend a few days with guys you don’t know, and you become a family.”
Troy wideout Dajuan Hudson caught a 68-yard pass from Hogan to set up Wilson’s third-quarter touchdown run.
Kehrer and North fullback Kyle Bacon of Schenectady were honored as the game’s top skill position players. South defensive lineman
Stevon Graham of Bishop Maginn and North offensive lineman Tyler Depas of Troy were honored for their performances on the interior.
The North won last year’s game 31-0, and leads the series 14-13. No game was played in 1996 due to an ice storm.
North 0 3 8 0 — 11
South 7 7 0 0 — 14
S — Kehrer 1 run (Wheeler kick).
N —FG Henes 30.
S — Kehrer 3 run (Savona kick).
N — Wilson 1 run (Mooney pass from Hogan).
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Categories: High School Sports