BURNT HILLS — After so many good quarters of football, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake needed one more last November to get back to the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, where it had been several times before for state championship games.
That good quarter didn’t happen, and the Spartans’ season ended under an avalanche of Somers touchdowns in a 48-24 Class A semifinal setback in Kingston.
“We were in it in the third quarter last year and fell apart,” Burnt Hills coach Matt Shell said. “It was tough. You have one bad quarter and you’re done.”
Forty eight minutes, consistency and a will to succeed were the Spartans’ themes this week as they prepared for another state semifinal go. They’ll take on Yorktown Friday’ at 8 p.m. at Middletown High School after receiving a quarterfinal bye. The Huskers advanced with last week’s 38-14 win over Cornwall.
“At the end of the day it’s going to come down to outworking them,” Burnt Hills junior quarterback Darien LaPietro said.
Messiah Horne did plenty of work for Somers in that 2016 state semi when he ran for four touchdowns and 220 of his 247 yards in the last quarter. Burnt Hills trailed 21-17 heading into that last frame, which included a pair of interceptions by Somers’ Vincent DiFilippo.
“This kid that they have can do that,” Shell said in reference to Horne and Yorktown running back Brett Makar. “He’s a good player. Good speed. Powerful kid. Their quarterback [Tommy Weaver] is a good runner, too. They have other guys who are good.”
Containing the Yorktown (Section I, 11-0) weapons will be paramount for a Burnt Hills (10-0) team striving for its fifth semifinal win since 2008. Its last Week 12 victory came back in 2012 against Cornwall, and the Spartans followed that up with their lone state championship-game win, against Sweet Home.
“It would mean a lot to a lot of guys,” BH-BL senior middle linebacker John Shaw said. “For me, it’s the last chance to get there. For all of the seniors, it’s the last chance.”
Burnt Hills has that opportunity after winning its eighth Section II title against Queensbury 27-20 when Jake Stanko scored on a two-yard run inside the final minute. LaPietro ran for a touchdown and Vincent Daviero ran for two earlier in the contest
“I want them to get to the next game,” Shell said. “It’s a great group to coach, and I want to see them advance. I’d like to see them take it to the end. As coaches we know how fun it is. I want them to experience it.”
LaPietro said Burnt Hills must up its performance to beat the state’s No. 2 team that knocked off Somers 21-7 in the Section I final before eliminating Cornwall. Burnt Hills is No. 4 in the state.
“You always want to be better in the next game,” LaPietro said. “You look back and see what you did. Realize you did a good job, and then pick out a little flaw you want to get better at. Be quicker off the ball. Little things like that. That’s been a huge thing for us, continually trying to be better.”
Burnt Hills hasn’t faced a running back better than Makar, who blasted for 212 yards and 3 touchdowns against Cornwall, and had 219 yards and a TD against Somers when Yorktown claimed its first Section I crown since 1998.
“They want to give it to No. 1 [Makar],” Shaw said of the senior who ran the ball 66 times in Yorktown’s last two games. “They want to feed him and feed him and they’ll work off that. Our defense has to be really focused. We can’t bite on fakes. We’ve got to follow our assignments. Stay on our toes.”
Whitesboro (Section III, 8-3) and West Seneca West (Section VI, 11-0) play Friday at Union-Endicott High School in the other state Class A semifinal. The New York title game is Nov. 24 at the Carrier Dome.
“We need to play four good quarters to move on,” Shell said. “The guys have given nothing but their best effort, and I would expect nothing less. They realize how big a game it is.”
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518-395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.
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Categories: High School Sports, Sports