Five things to know as the school football season begins

John Furey, who stepped down as Niskayuna's head varsity football coach in 2016, is serving as a defensive assistant with the team.
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John Furey, who stepped down as Niskayuna's head varsity football coach in 2016, is serving as a defensive assistant with the team.

Here are five things to know heading into Week 1 of the Section II’s “Fall II” football season. Games will be played Friday, Saturday and Sunday to begin what will be a seven-week season for the teams that were not allowed by state authorities to compete in the traditional fall season due to COVID-19 concerns.

LIMITED FANS AT GAME SITES

Fans will be embracing their screens to see area football games via the Internet this season as limited numbers will be allowed at playing sites. Most schools have committed to live streaming their football games either on their own school channels or signed up with the National Federation of State High School Associations network (NFHSnetwork.com).

The traditional Suburban Council schools -– mostly in Class AA -– will limit attendance to two people per athlete that have a school-issued spectator badge. Some schools are also asking for attendees to fill out a self-certification form prior to entry for contact tracing, so have your cell phone handy.

At Johnstown, athletic director Mike Satterlee said the Sir Bills will also use a two-person per athlete guideline for games, but just for the Sir Bills. No opposing fans will be admitted.

NEW QB AT BH-BL

There will be a different LaPietro under center for Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake as Caeden LaPietro moves from running back to quarterback this year.

“It’s a lot on your shoulders,” LaPietro said. “You have to understand what you’re doing, what you’re there for, run the offense, lead the offense.”

He had help with the transition, working out with older brother, Darien, who led the Spartans at quarterback for three seasons earlier.

LaPietro said the change has its own set of challenges.

“Running back, half back that’s what I’ve been doing my whole life,” LaPietro said. “Everything is new to me, but I’m getting used to it.

“I’m not used to throwing the ball, that was the first thing. Then it was three-step drops, other things you’re not used to when you were a half back or running back.”

LaPietro said he should have been more understanding of his former quarterbacks on failed running plays.

“If they mess up a handoff as a halfback, you’re getting upset, but it happens,” LaPietro said. “It’s part of the game, you have to understand that.”

SHORT-HANDED

Ballston Spa will be short-handed for its game at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Friday night.

The Scotties have 10 players unavailable due to COVID-19 quarantine protocol guidelines by the school district. As a result, Ballston Spa is expected to dress 24 players.

The COVID-19 issue also led to the postponement of Saturday’s opening junior varsity game between Burnt Hills and Ballston Spa. No make-up date for the junior varsity game has been announced.

FUREY STILL AT IT

When John Furey stepped down as Niskayuna’s head varsity football coach after the 2016 season, he didn’t go away. He just changed his role with the program.

“I love the game, and I love working with kids,” Furey said after Wednesday’s practice on the Schenectady High School turf. “And, I get the opportunity to work with two guys I coached.”

That would be Brian Grastorf, who took over for Furey as Niskayuna’s lead coach, and his son Peter, the Silver Warriors defensive coordinator. John Furey is in his second year as a defensive assistant coach at the school.

“We spend a lot of time together, and we’re on the phone a lot,” John Furey said of working with his son, a 2009 Niskayuna graduate. “He teaches me. I teach him. It’s reciprocal.”

John Furey coached freshman football at Niskayuna in 2017, and worked with the junior varsity in 2018.

“The group of seniors we have is my freshman team,” said the 63-year-old Furey, who is a retired physical education teacher. “It’s a great group with a lot of skilled athletes and a lot of multi-sport kids. They’re fun to work with.”

Furey was an assistant football coach at Bethlehem for 13 years before moving to Niskayuna where he spent 22 years in charge of the Silver Warriors.

“I’ve never missed a season,” he said. “This is my 53rd year playing or coaching.”

Furey coached varsity baseball at Niskayuna for 21 years and also left that post after the 2016 season.

“I bring energy and experience to the table,” Furey said.

IMPRESSIVE STREAK

Queensbury senior running back Jason Rodriguez has a streak of 10 consecutive 100-plus-yard rushing games heading into Friday’s Class A season-starting matchup at Scotia-Glenville. The streak is a school record, and includes a 124-yard effort when Queensbury defeated Scotia-Glenville 56-13 in Week 3 of the 2019 season in what was the Tartans first game on its new turf field.

Rodriguez was selected a Daily Gazette All-Area first-team star in 2019 after leading Queensbury to the Section II Class A championship. With 2,108 career rushing yards, he needs six more to pass Will Groff (2,113 yards, 2000-02) for the No. 2 position on the Spartans’ all-time list.

Categories: -The Daily Gazette, High School Sports, Sports

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