Schenectady football visits Colonie in must-win game

'It’s such an unforgiving schedule'
O'Dell Smith will be playing at both running back and defensive back for Schenectady on Friday night.
O'Dell Smith will be playing at both running back and defensive back for Schenectady on Friday night.

SCHENECTADY — It’s only Week 2.

Yet, Schenectady — like a number of other Section II football teams — finds itself readying to play what amounts to a borderline must-win game this Friday.

That’s the reality of the situation. Schenectady head coach Mark Cerrone isn’t hiding from it.

“It’s such an unforgiving schedule,” Cerrone said earlier this week before one of his team’s practices. “After Week 1, win or lose, you do think about those things, about what scenarios need to play out. I started thinking about it right after last Friday night’s game.”

High school football teams in Section II only play seven or eight regular season games depending on their classification. That doesn’t provide much time to slip up and recover.

In Schenectady’s case, the Patriots are 0-1 after dropping a Liberty Division game to LaSalle Institute last Friday. Next up for Schenectady is a divisional game at Colonie, a matchup the Patriots need to win to avoid needing to spring a major upset later in the season to qualify for their first postseason since 2012.

“I know it, my coaching staff knows it — but I don’t talk to the kids about it,” Cerrone said of the importance of Friday’s game. “Every game is a new week and all that matters for them is the next game we’re playing.”

In Class AA, four teams from both the Empire and Liberty divisions qualify for the playoffs. In Schenectady’s Liberty Division, the regular season is even more of a sprint than usual because it’s difficult to envision a scenario where Shaker and Troy — last year’s Super Bowl participants — miss out on securing playoff spots. If that holds true, that means there are five teams essentially battling for the two remaining postseason berths in the Liberty Division.

Schenectady and Colonie are two of those teams, and they meet 7 p.m. Friday at Colonie. While the Garnet Raiders are coming off a 14-0 win against Bethlehem, Schenectady is looking to rebound from a 27-14 defeat against LSI that stung the Patriots.

“We definitely had our chances to win that one, but we didn’t capitalize on our opportunities,” said O’Dell Smith, a junior running back/defensive back for Schenectady. “That’s what we need to do this Friday.”

“We really showed our age. We’re a young team,” Cerrone said. “When the lights came on, we didn’t adapt at the speed we needed to.”

Against Colonie, the Patriots will need to show they learned the lessons of their Week 1 defeat.

“They’re explosive,” Cerrone said of the Garnet Raiders. “What they lack in size, they make up for in discipline and athleticism.”

With another win Friday, Colonie puts itself in strong position to secure a playoff spot. Meanwhile, Schenectady needs to do anything it can to avoid an 0-2 start in the Liberty Division.

A little much for a Week 2 game? Sure, but that’s how the system works.

“That’s part of the divisional makeup,” Cerrone said. “That’s playing Class AA football.”

Besides Schenectady’s trip to Colonie, here are four other games of note in Week 2 of the Section II football season.

Shenendehowa at Saratoga Springs, Friday, 7 p.m.

Each side of this rivalry won last week. The winner of this matchup nets itself the chance to become the early favorite in the Empire Division in Class AA.

Amsterdam at Mohonasen, Friday, 7 p.m.

Each at 1-0, Amsterdam and Mohonasen are looking to build on strong Week 1 performances. With tough games for both schools looming in Week 3 — Burnt Hills visits Mohonasen, Queensbury heads to Amsterdam — this one is extra important.

Holy Trinity at Mechanicville, Friday, 7 p.m.

After taking on Chatham last week, nothing gets easier for Holy Trinity in Week 2. The Red Raiders and the Pride could easily meet again once the postseason rolls around.

Schalmont at Glens Falls, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

Glens Falls dominated Hudson in its opener, while Schalmont struggled against Schuylerville. Against the reigning Class B state champion, the Sabres will look to avoid an 0-2 start.

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Michael Kelly at 518-395-3109, [email protected] or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter.

Categories: High School Sports, Sports

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