Stillwater among playoff football teams looking to bounce back

Warriors' first loss sends them on the road
Stillwater travels to Chatham Friday for a Section II Class C quarterfinal game.
Stillwater travels to Chatham Friday for a Section II Class C quarterfinal game.

STILLWATER — The Class C Central Division title and a top-three seed for the Section II football tournament were two good quarters away, but Stillwater was just OK during that deciding stretch last Friday against Holy Trinity.

OK wasn’t enough.

“All season, we didn’t play good in the second half,” Stillwater senior guard and defensive end Jake Richardson said. “This is the one that got us. We know what level we have to play at.”

The Warriors let a touchdown lead get away in the second half, battled back to tie, and gave up two more scores afterward in a 35-21 loss that not only ended their perfect regular season, but sent them on the road as the No. 6 seed to No. 3 Chatham for a sectional quarterfinal Friday.

Considering the Warriors (6-1) ran for over 400 yards, it was a difficult defeat to swallow.

“Saturday morning we did our film and I sensed our guys were a little down,” Stillwater coach Ian Godfrey said. “After film I told the guys, ‘Let’s all let out a deep breath,’ and it was, ‘What do we do from here?'”

It will be interesting to find out. Chatham (6-1) is in a similar spot, having lost its first game last weekend, too, to non-league Class D opponent Greene. Section II Class A quarterfinalists Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (6-1) and Averill Park (6-1) are also coming off their first losses of the season in games against Queensbury (7-0) and Troy (6-1), respectively, that decided division championships and top playoff seeds.

“We believe in ourselves,” Stillwater senior Brody Peacock, a guard and defensive tackle, said. “We want to turn a minor setback into a major comeback. We’re just going to get back at it.”

Stillwater’s veteran cast has bounced back before following a loss to Holy Trinity. That 49-6 setback came in Week 5 last season and was followed by four straight wins that propelled Stillwater into the Section II title game. Holy Trinity won that one, as well, 34-12.

“We’ve got a lot of character,” Richardson said. “We dealt with this last year with Holy Trinity in the regular season. It lights a fire in us.”

Godfrey said Stillwater will have standout running back Mason Seymour for its playoff push after the junior missed the Holy Trinity game for disciplinary reasons, and that junior quarterback James Galarneau’s sore ankle is feeling much better.

Galarneau was still able to run the ball 38 times for 217 yards and three touchdowns against Holy Trinity. Seymour’s backup, 11th-grader Luc Lescault, ran 23 times for 202 yards. Stillwater rattled off 75 plays to Holy Trinity’s 35.

“We definitely left some stuff out on the field,” Godfrey said. “We moved the ball, but we had some breakdowns. We missed some tackles. We had a couple of alignment mistakes. Credit Holy Trinty. Their players made a few more plays.”

“We were moving and let it slip away,” Richardson said. “We weren’t finishing drives.”

Holy Trinity (6-1) got the No. 2 Class C seed and a home game Saturday with No. 7 Voorheesville (5-2). That winner will meet the Stillwater-Chatham winner in the semifinals. Chatham swept through the South Division before its 21-14 loss to Greene.

“Mechanicville went to Chatham last year [for a quarterfinal] and Chatham put it on them,” Godfrey said. “We’ve got to be all in for Chatham. That’s been our message all week. They’ve got a few athletes we’ll need to keep an eye on. They’re well-coached.

“When you have as many guys back as we do, expectations are going to be high, but we are focused only on Chatham at this time,” Godfrey said. “We’ve got to get back to basics and get after it.”

After their losses in Week 7, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake and Averill Park will both be eyeing bounce-back wins at home Friday as No. 2 seeds. Burnt Hills will host Columbia (4-3) and Averill Park will entertain Ballston Spa (4-3).

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518-395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.

Categories: High School Sports, Sports

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