Mechanicville Red Raiders the ultimate comeback kids

Mechanicville’s football season took a positive shift on the night of the Indian Bowl with Stillwate
Running back Evan Chapman, right, will be one of the Mechanicville players to watch when the Red Raiders face Greenwich in the Section II Class C championship game Friday night.
Running back Evan Chapman, right, will be one of the Mechanicville players to watch when the Red Raiders face Greenwich in the Section II Class C championship game Friday night.

Mechanicville’s football season took a positive shift on the night of the Indian Bowl with Stillwater, and the Red Raiders didn’t even get a win.

“That showed we can bounce back,” Mechanicville senior linebacker and receiver Bill Callahan said after Wednesday’s practice. “No matter how much we’re down by.”

Mechanicville was down by three touchdowns in that Week 6 game against its biggest rival, yet forged a tie before going up 28-21 in overtime. Stillwater eventually won 29-28 on a two-pointer at the end.

“We lost the bowl, but we didn’t lose much, as far as the playoffs go,” first-year Mechanicville coach Erik Smith said. “We knew we were going to be a No. 4, 5 or 6 [seed]. I told my guys after, ‘Now you know how to contend. Now you know how to come back.’ ”

The Red Raiders have done that twice since, rallying to beat Stillwater 22-14 in the Section II Class C quarterfinals, and coming from behind to knock off No. 1 seed Voorheesville 21-13 in the semifinals to earn a long-awaited return trip to the Section II title game.

Voorheesville, the Class C Central Division champion, defeated Mechanicville in the regular season 34-20 the week before the Indian Bowl.

“You just don’t see it,” Smith said of avenging two regular- season defeats. “You can go back, and it’s a rare thing.”

It is. Schalmont was among the few teams to pull off the double in recent years when, in 2009, it beat Albany Academy in the Class B quarterfinals and Lansingburgh in the title game after losing to those opponents to begin that season.

“We came together after the two losses,” Callahan said. “We built off it. We said, ‘We’re not going to let it kill us.’ ”

Mechanicville (No. 5, 7-2) and Greenwich (No. 6, 7-2) are the lone Class C teams still alive after the Witches bumped No. 3 Watervliet 35-8 and No. 2 Hoosic Valley 36-22. Greenwich avanged a 20-13 Week 4 loss to Hoosic Valley to land its spot in Friday’s 7 p.m. final at Lansingburgh.

“The teams in there have earned their spot,” Smith said. “We had to perform when it mattered most.”

Mechanicville has been an improved team, particularly on the defensive side, since it gave up three touchdown passes and fell behind 21-0 at the half in the Indian Bowl.

“It came down to them working together more,” Smith said. “The line, linebackers and secondary were playing as three different groups. They weren’t talking. They weren’t communicating. It took two losses to figure it out.”

Mechanicville trailed Stillwater at the half 14-0 in the rematch before its defense responded with a second-half shutout and Keegan McHale, Dan Hayner and Dan Motta ran for touchdowns. McHale also provided the clinching TD against Voorheesville.

“They [Stillwater] can say they got the Indian Bowl,” Mechanicville senior two-way tackle Mike Gaudette said. “We can say we won the game that mattered.”

“We were in the same spot with Stillwater the first time,” Callahan said. “It was time to wake up, time to get focused.”

Mechanicville spotted Voorheesville a 7-0 lead last Saturday before climbing back as it had the week before and in early-season wins against Holy Trinity and Watervliet.

“Our parents and friends are going, ‘You gotta’ stop coming from behind,’ ” Gaudette said. “ ‘You’re going to give someone a heart attack.’  We’d like to have a game where we don’t have to.”

Greenwich is the defending Class C champion, using its 49-14 win against Hoosic Valley as a springboard to the state final.

“Week 5 was a wake-up call and Week 6, there you go,” Smith said. “We could have tucked our tail.”

Mechanicville topped Taconic Hills 38-6 as a stepping stone to the playoffs.

“We’re confident going in,” Callahan said. “One hundred percent ready to go.”

Super Bowl capsules


Tonight at RPI, 7 p.m.

Shaker (Liberty No. 2, 8-1) vs. Troy (Liberty No., 9-0)

Super Bowl history: Shaker 1-2, last appearance 2015 (lost to Saratoga Springs Class AA); last win 2012 (vs. Shenendehowa Class AA).

Troy 7-4; last appearance 2015 (lost to Amsterdam Class A); last win 2010 (vs. Shenendehowa Class AA).

How they got here: Joey Ward ran for his second touchdown to break a fourth-quarter tie, and the Flying Horses beat CBA 22-15 in one semi­final. Troy also rallied in the last quarter to upend Shaker in Week 4 20-13. Mike Stiso scored Shaker’s first two touchdowns on a catch and run, and the Blue Bison stuffed Guilderland in a 35-6 semifinal win that made them a four-time Super Bowl representative in five years.

State rank: Troy No. 8; Shaker No. 11.

Did you know?: Troy won five straight titles from 1996-2000, the last four at the Class AA level.


Saturday at Shenendehowa, 7 p.m.

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (Southeast No. 2, 8-1) vs. Averill Park (Southeast No. 1, 8-1)

Super Bowl History: Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 6-4; last appearance 2014 (lost to Queensbury); last win 2012 (vs. Amsterdam Class A).

Averill Park 0-1; last appearance 2005 (lost to Amsterdam Class A).

How they got here: Mike LeVan set up three touchdowns with interceptions in the second half, and the Spartans blanked Queensbury in that span to log a comeback 42-24 semifinal win. Averill Park ended its long title-game drought when Dennis Fisher recovered a fumble late in the fourth quarter and eventually scored the go-ahead touchdown in a 21-14 semifinal win over 2015 champ Amsterdam. Averill Park owns a 19-16 Week 4 win against Burnt Hills, and has won eight in a row since a loss to Queensbury.

State rank: Averill Park No. 14; Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake No. 15.

Did you know?: Burnt Hills will be making its 10th Super Bowl appearance in 11 years.


Friday at Shenendehowa, 7 p.m.

Hudson (Reinfurt No. 1, 9-0) vs. Glens Falls (North No. 1, 9-0)

Super Bowl history: Hudson 4-10; last appearance 2006 (lost to Albany Academy Class B); last win 2001 (vs. Glens Falls Class B).

Glens Falls 4-6; last appearance 2015 (lost to Schuylerville Class B); last win 2012 (vs. Schalmont Class B).

How they got here: Willie Walker scored two touchdowns as part of the Bluehawks’ track-speed attack, and they ousted 2015 champ Schuylerville 34-14. Joe Girard III scored on punt and interception returns, Glens Falls beat Schalmont for the second time this fall 44-14.

State rank: Glens Falls No. 5; Hudson No. 10.

Did you know?: Hudson has won sectional championships at the Class B, C and D levels; Glens Falls is 2-1 in Super Bowls against Hudson.


Friday at Lansingburgh, 7 p.m.

Mechanicville (No. 5, 7-2) vs. Greenwich (No. 6, 7-2)

Super Bowl history: Mechanicville 5-4; last appearance 2004 (lost to Schuylerville Class C); last win 2000 (vs. Cambridge Class C).

Greenwich 3-4; last appearance/win 2015 (vs. Hoosic Valley Class C).

How they got here: Keegan McHale ran for a fourth-quarter touchdown to extend a one-point Mechanicville lead, and the Red Raiders avenged a 34-20 regular season loss to Voorheesville with a 21-13 semifinal win. Cole Burgesss and Reece Cristaldi both ran for two touchdowns, and Greenwich made it back to the title game with a 36-22 win over Hoosic Valley. Greenwich lost to Hoosic Valley 20-13 in Week 4.

State rank: Greenwich No. 6; Mechanicville No. 10.

Did you know?: Greenwich is trying give the Class C tournament a repeat (two or more) champion for the ninth time. Mechanicville (1999, 2000) is among the group. No other class has had as many repeat champions.


Saturday at Schuylerville, 1 p.m.

Whitehall (No. 2, 7-2) vs. Cambridge (No. 1, 9-0)

Super Bowl History: Whitehall 3-5; last appearance/win 2015 (vs. Cambridge Class D).

Cambridge 14-5; last appearance 2015 (lost to Whitehall Class D); last win 2014 (vs. Whitehall).

How they got here: David Camara and Daryl Hillman scored touchdowns, and Whitehall held off Cambridge 13-6 with a pair of late interceptions. Zack Rowland threw three touchdown passes, and Cambridge scored three defensive touchdowns in a 68-14 semifinal win over Warrensburg.

State rank: Cambridge No. 3; Whitehall No. 13.

Did you know?: Cambridge and Whitehall had never met in a Super Bowl until 2014 when the Indians prevailed for their all-time Section II-best 14th championship.

Categories: High School Sports

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