BURNT HILLS — It’s starting months later than usual, the preseason is a quick one and the regular season will be abbreviated.
But there is a football season — and that means veteran Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake football coach Matt Shell is grateful.
“With everything that has gone on, it was a tough summer and tough fall, but it’s nice to just have the opportunity to play,” Shell said after Tuesday’s practice at the school’s Centennial Field. “I’m glad the section has put together a schedule for us and allowed all the kids in Section II to play.”
The fall football season was postponed and moved to the newly created “Fall II” season after a lengthy wait for “high” risk sports, including football and volleyball, to be authorized by the state Department of Health and local health authorities. There will not be any regional or state championship competitions in any sport this year.
As different sport seasons suffered various postponements before final decisions were announced, it kept football seniors like defensive end Holden Comley in a constant state of worry.
“When I started to see everything get backed up and pushed back, that was terrifying for me,” Comley said. “To get the opportunity finally to actually get on the field again, it means the world to me.”
The Spartans return 15 players from last year’s squad that lost to Queensbury in the Section II Class A semifinal and suffered a defeat at the hands of Ballston Spa during the regular season – the same team they face in their home opener on Friday.
“They have a really good option that’s hard to read sometimes,” Comley said. “That’s the main focus for my position and our linebackers; we have to really watch that to make sure that it doesn’t get out of control.”
A major change this season for Burnt Hills will see Caeden LaPietro under center, as he converts from running back.
“It’s a new position for him,” Shell said. “[I am looking for] day to day improvement and I’ve seen that.”
Part of Shell’s coaching plan includes preparing his team for last-minute changes. Schedule changes, Shell said, need to be expected as the area’s teams navigate a season played amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m hoping that every school in the area gets their seven games,” Shell said. “I hope there’s no hitches at all, but realistically we have to believe that it may not happen.”