CLIFTON PARK — The Shenendehowa football team’s defense had no answer Friday night for quarterback Joey Mirabile operating out of Shaker’s Wing-T offense on the first night of the Section II “Fall II” football season.
In a 20-0 Shaker win, Mirabile ran the ball six times for 108 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown late in the second quarter, and passed for 121 yards in the Class AA Empire Division matchup.
“Joey is a reliable player and he’s a poised player,” Shaker coach Greg Sheeler said. “If you saw him play basketball this winter, I don’t know how many times he put teams away with foul shots. He had that kind of composure tonight at quarterback for us and led us to the win.”
Mirabile made his presence felt with a 61-yard run on the second offensive play for the Blue Bison, setting up Connor Strand’s 1-yard touchdown run two plays later.
“We knew they would be keying our guards, so we did a naked bootleg with him and, sure enough, they chased it, he made a great fake and a great play,” Sheeler said.
That gave Mirabile the boost he needed.
“I’ve really had to work on my fakes the last few years and to just know that I sold the fake, it was just a great play,” Mirabile said. “It set the tone for the game because they weren’t expecting us to do a play like that, and it got us a big play, a lot of momentum and got them down a little bit.”
Mirabile scored the second touchdown of the night for Shaker, scampering 21 yards into the end zone to close out the first half.
For the Plainsmen, the reigning Section II Class AA champion, the unusual March opener was similar in style to their 28-14 loss in Week 2 in 2019 against Shaker. That night, Shenendehowa turned the ball over five times, committed nine penalties and produced just 117 yards of total offense.
Shaker defensive back John Graney was another nemesis for the Plainsmen, picking off quarterback Brody Vincenzi twice and recovering a fourth-quarter fumble in the Shenendehowa end zone with five minutes left in the contest following a costly Plainsmen penalty on the previous play from scrimmage that had negated a long gain.
“I saw the ball squirt out and I was just lucky enough to hop on it before some of my boys,” Graney said of the play, which saw several Shaker players contribute to forcing the fumble.
The football season got off to a late start after a lengthy wait for “high-risk” sports competition to be authorized by the state Department of Health and the local health authorities.
“I was dreaming about this night for 18 months,” Graney said. “Our defense is just so happy to get out here and play some ball.
“That goose egg [20-0 shutout] up there just makes us all feel so fantastic.”
Shaker will host Guilderland next Friday, while Shenendehowa will face Colonie, at Shaker, the next day.
Shaker 7 7 0 7 – 21
Shenendehowa 0 0 0 0 – 0
Shak – Strand 1 run (Robinson kick)
Shak – Mirabile 21 run (Robinson kick)
Shak – Graney fumble recovery in end zone (Kick failed)