A lasting impression? How about the 5-yard touchdown run in the state Class B final, when Joseph Girard III dashed far right and then way back to his left before finding the corner of the end zone with Batavia defenders in hot pursuit.
The Glens Falls senior quarterback had to have covered over 50 yards to get the 5 he needed on a play that kick-started a comeback victory and a second championship in three years.
“A lot of no, no, no, yes-type of plays,” Glens Falls coach Pat Lilac said.
That was Girard III, the super-exciting and ultra-productive Indians’ leader who quarterbacked them to a 16-1 playoff record over three years. In that last win, 55-32 against Batavia, The Daily Gazette 2018 Offensive Player of the Year ran for two scores, threw for two and 314 yards, and picked off a pass from his safety spot.
“That’s incredible. I never added it up,” Lilac said of the Girard III-led 17-game playoff run that included a trio of Section II and regional titles. “In the big games, he had the ability to take things over. He’s got a knack for knowing when we need stuff.”
Girard III provided Glens Falls with a ton of good stuff in an 11-2 season, including a Section II-record 3,166 passing yards (173 of 282) and 37 touchdown tosses, which were two shy of the all-time Section II high set by Joe Tortello last year when Holy Trinity reached the state Class C final. Girard III also dashed, dipped and faked his way to 13 touchdowns and 399 rushing yards.
“He made everything look like anyone could do it. That’s the highest compliment I can give him,” Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake coach Matt Shell said. “When you’re that good, you make it look easy. He’s an elite basketball player, but also an elite football player.”
Girard III is the state’s all-time basketball points leader with well over 3,000, and he will pursue that sport at Syracuse. His football career, like his basketball career, featured a slew of scoring binges. He threw for multiple touchdowns 10 times this year with a pair of five-TD games. He ran for multiple touchdowns four times. In a win over Johnstown, he returned two punts to the end zone.
“He’d find a way to wiggle free and throw a touchdown pass,” Shell said of the Gazette 2016 and 2017 first-team selection.
Glens Falls averaged 42 points per game with Girard III calling the shots this season, and won its last seven games after a 55-27 loss to Burnt Hills, a state Class A semifinalist.
“The underrated thing is he always protected the football,” Lilac said. “He took some chances and, doing those crazy things, he protected it. He fumbled once, on a quarterback sneak. And one of his [six] interceptions was actually a good play for us. We were third and 12 against Marlboro and he threw it like 50 yards. We got field position. It was better than a punt.”
Girard III fired two scoring passes and returned a fumble for a touchdown when Glens Falls beat Marlboro 48-28 in the state semifinals. He was named the game’s most valuable player after the Indians’ next win, when they rallied from a 14-0 deficit against Batavia to become the best in New York.
Girard III capped his superb season by passing for over 300 yards for the fourth time.
“He is so athletic, but the overriding thing is his competitiveness,” Lilac said. “That is what separates him. He’s got the ‘It’ factor. You see it. It definitely rubs off on the other kids and helps us in terms of having a winning culture.”
Tortello has helped Holy Trinity turn its fortunes with his cool presence in the pocket and accurate arm, this year throwing for 1,955 yards (95 of 144) and 27 touchdowns while earning an All-Area first team nod. The Central Division Offensive Player of the Year tied a state record with eight TD passes and completed 17 of 18 passes for 377 yards in a 56-20 win against Canajoharie/Fort Plain.
Holy Trinity is 21-5 in three years with Tortello at quarterback, and with his sidekick Nacier Hundley making plays all over the field. This year’s Central Division Player of the Year and Gazette first-team repeater caught 33 passes for 755 yards and 15 touchdowns. The junior end and outside linebacker also ran for a touchdown, recorded 89 tackles and averaged 36 yards punting for the Pride.
Niskayuna senior Richie Quinn set school records with 59 receptions and 918 yards as part of the Silver Warriors’ first winning season since 2011. The Gazette and Class AA first-team pick caught three of his eight touchdown passes from Gazette second-team honoree Dan Brownell and had a season-high 198 yards in a 35-0 win against Schenectady.
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake senior running back Vincent Daviero led Section II in rushing with 1,549 yards on 144 attempts and scored 22 of his 23 touchdowns on the ground. The Gazette first-team selection and Class A Player of the Year scored in every game for the 9-2 state semifinalists, and had nine games with over 100 yards, topped by 221 against Mohonasen.
“Last year, he wasn’t totally healthy,” Shell said of his standout running back and linebacker. “He came back strong. He was healthy, and it showed in his play. His level of play, week in and week out, was a big reason for our success.”
Burnt Hills beat Queensbury 21-16 for the Section II Class A title after an earlier loss (42-21) to its rival, when Gazette first-team running back and Class A Offensive Player of the Year Liam O’Mara ran wild for six of his 28 touchdowns. The powerful senior piled up 21 of those TDs and 1,247 yards on the ground on 126 attempts.
Section II champion Shaker got a huge boost from senior running back Logan Souza, the Class AA Player of the Year, whose production increased after a Week 4 injury to backfield mate Jovani Wiggs. The quick and elusive Souza ran for 893 yards, and averaged 10 per carry and scored 14 touchdowns. The special-teams standout returned two kickoffs for TDs, led Shaker in return tackles, and handled the long snap chores.
When Shaker beat Saratoga for the Section II title 28-14, Souza ran for 142 yards and broke a 14-14 tie with his second TD.
— Daily Gazette Sports (@dgazettesports) December 7, 2018
Donovan Pacatte handled a variety of responsibilities for Section II Class B runner-up Cobleskill-Richmondville as a quarterback, linebacker and defensive back, punter and kicker. The Gazette all-purpose pick and Reinfurt Division Most Valuable Player passed for 1,656 yards (119 of 197) and 19 TDs, ran for 373 yards and six TDs, and kicked 31 PATs and four field goals, including a game-winner against Schalmont.
“We had a lot of pieces there and would have won some of those games, but I don’t think we’d go as far as we did without him,” Bulldogs coach Ed Hantho.
Pacatte threw for three TDs, ran for one, returned a fumble for another and kicked a field goal when the Bulldogs beat Schuylerville 36-30 in the Class B semifinals.
Holy Trinity plucked Wil Lawson from the Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons soccer team, and the first-year kicker excelled with four field goals in five attempts and 36 PATs on 37 attempts. The Gazette and Central Division first-team selection was perfect after missing his first career PAT try.
Lilac said Gazette first-team center Thompson Collins was near-perfect with his snaps in Glens Falls’ shotgun look, an impressive feat for the converted offensive guard and, now, a Gazette first-teamer. The senior also excelled as a nose guard, and with schoolmate Nick Danahy shared the North Division Defensive Player of the Year award.
“I don’t remember him botching a snap,” Lilac said of Collins. “He anchored both sides for us. Smart kid. Tough kid.”
The Gazette first-team line also features the decorated tandem of guard Brandon Camaj and tackle Ryan McPadden, who helped Saratoga Springs reach back-to-back Super Bowls, three-year starting guard Brody Peacock of Class C semifinalist Stillwater, and three-year starting tackle Dylan Blowers of Class AA semifinalst Shenendehowa.
QB — Joseph Girard III, 12, 6-2, 185, Glens Falls
QB — Joe Tortello,11, 5-11, 185, Holy Trinity
RB — Vincent Daviero, 12, 5-11, 185, Burnt Hills
RB — Liam O’Mara, 12, 6-1, 180, Queensbury
RB — Logan Souza, 12, 5-6, 150, Shaker
AP — Donovan Pacatte, 12, 6-3, 200, Cobleskill-Richmondville
E — Nacier Hundley, 11, 5-7, 165, Holy Trinity
E — Richie Quinn, 12, 6-2, 175, Niskayuna
OL — Thompson Collins, 12, 6-3, 235, Glens Falls
OL — Brody Peacock, 12, 6-5, 280, Stillwater
OL — Brandon Camaj, 12, 6-1, 305, Saratoga
OL — Ryan McPadden, 12, 6-3, 240, Saratoga
OL — Dylan Blowers, 12, 6-4, 265, Shenendehowa
K — Wil Lawson, 12, 6-0, 170, Holy Trinity
QB — Dan Brownell, 12, Niskayuna
QB — Brendan Belott, 12, Shenendehowa
RB — Tommy English, 12, Cambridge/Salem
RB — Hunter Edwards, 11, Cobleskill-Richmondville
RB — Ashton Capone, 12, Saratoga
AP — DJ Lashley, 12, Burnt Hills
E — James Altenburger, 12, Shenendehowa
E — Trent Girard, 12, Glens Falls
OL — Victor Little, 9, Burnt Hills
OL — Tyler Marini, 12, CBA
OL — Noah Stachewicz, 12, Shenendehowa
OL — Devin Hunt, 12, Queensbury
OL — Jake Lucier, 12, Averill Park
QB — Darien LaPietro, 12, Burnt Hills
QB — Shane O’Dell, 11, Schalmont
RB — Mason Seymour, 11, Stillwater
RB — Aalijah Sampson, 10, Glens Falls
RB — Jason McCarthy, 12, Ballston Spa
AP — Carter Steingraber, 12, Saratoga
E — Dante Calderone, 11, Broadalbin-Perth
E — Noah Foster, 11, Holy Trinity
OL — Spencer Lindstead, 12, Cobleskill-Richmondville
OL — Mike Mannato, 11, Scotia-Glenville
OL — Nick Billert, 12, Mechanicville
OL — Russell Welch, 12, Mohonasen
OL — Jake Stangle, 12, Ballston Spa