From the long-awaited Week 1 of the Section II football season, here are five things to know.
HOW THEY FARED
Only three of the 2019 area champions were in action this weekend. Here is how they fared in Week 1.
CLASS AA – Shenendehowa: Lost to Shaker 20-0 at home, committing five turnovers, committed nine penalties, and produced 117 yards of total offense. The Plainsmen are using a running back-by-committee formula but had little success. Next game: vs. Colonie. at Shaker. Saturday.
CLASS A – Queensbury: Did not play due to COVID-19 related issues. There is no determination if the game will be made up. Next game: at Mohonasen, Friday.
CLASS B – Schuylerville: Now playing in Class C, shut out Mechanicville, 38-0 on the road. The Black Horses also limited Mechanicville to 38 yards on offense, while rolling on the Red Raider turf for 311 of their own. NOTE: Class B used the opening weekend as “Week 0” games – scrimmages. Next game: vs. Johnstown, Saturday.
CLASS C – Stillwater: The biggest news of the weekend was Lake George/Hadley Luzerne defeating Stillwater on the road, 12-8. Both teams are playing in Class D this season. Next game: vs. Greenwich. Saturday.
CLASS D – Warrensburg: No game scheduled. Next game: vs. Cambridge-Salem. at Stillwater. Saturday.
RUMBLE, YOUNG MAN
A highlight in the Schenectady defense’s 38-0 shutout of Colonie Saturday afternoon included a spectacular play by defensive lineman J.J. Reyes.
With Colonie quarterback Cameron Aery under pressure and rolling out towards the sidelines, his pass attempt ended up in the big hands of Reyes, who took off.
He rumbled down the sideline for a 33-yard return, surrounded by his teammates protecting Reyes and the prize. He was eventually pushed out of bounds and the turnover led to another Patriots score.
“My boy Jaheim [Hernandez], best outside linebacker I could have on my team came out, lit him up. I grabbed that ball, it was just a special feeling,” Reyes said.
“I was like give me that ball.”
When the hero returned to the sidelines there were several friendly barbs about his fitness.
“I wanted to go to the house,” Reyes said. “I need to start working on my speed, but I’ll get there.”
Schenectady limited the Garnet Raiders to 24 yards passing and just 29 yards on 27 attempts, including a 33-yard loss on an errant lateral that became a fumble drill in front of the Colonie sideline.
The Patriots will face Christian Brothers Academy at Shenendehowa on Friday.
Covering kickoffs had been a bit of a struggle for Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake throughout Friday’s win over Ballston Spa, but in the fourth quarter, the Spartans took advantage of some extreme accuracy from junior kicker Michael Sbuttoni to circumvent kickoff coverage entirely.
After Caeden LaPietro’s touchdown run gave Burnt Hills a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter, Sbuttoni placed a perfect pooch kick between two lines of Ballston Spa upbacks. The ball checked up with backspin worthy of a lob wedge from an ace golfer, and Burnt Hills’ Vincent Venditti slid in to cleanly recover the ball.
“Michael Sbuttoni is a very good kicker,” Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake coach Matt Shell said. “He can put the ball in different places.”
The pooch kick was part of a furious final stretch to what had mostly been a plodding game. The teams combined for three touchdowns in 39 seconds late in the game — a 1-yard run by Burnt Hills’ Jake Pausley, then an interception return by the Spartan’s Michael Puglisi on Ballston Spa’s next offensive snap, then an 85-yard kickoff return by the Scotties’ CJ Guarino.
“For sure, we want our kids to stay aggressive,” Shell said. “That’s all part of it. They really executed and did a nice job.”
Dan Quinn had seen Tyler Borwhat make fabulous catches before, but not until this season was he the quarterback passing to the gifted Niskayuna senior.
“He’s one of those great playmakers,” Quinn said after Niskayuna’s 14-0 Class A win at Mohonasen Saturday.
Borwhat scored the first touchdown midway through the first quarter when the 6-foot-3 wide receiver beat a defender and leaped high in the end zone to snag a 29-yard, high-arcing pass from Quinn.
“I saw Tyler with a step on their corner. He had a size advantage,” Quinn, a junior who is starting in place of injured Brock Behrman, said of the play. “I knew he could come down with it. He did.”
“When we beat Hudson [in the 2019 season finale] we started the scoring the same way, with a fade to Borwhat,” Niskayuna coach Brian Grastorf said.
“He put it right where it needed to be,” Borwhat said of Quinn, who was part of the receiving group as a sophomore.
Borwhat helped set up Quinn’s second touchdown pass Saturday, to Aaden Woodward in the fourth quarter, with a 21-yard reception. He also laid out for an 11-yard sideline catch on a fourth-and-9 play to keep an earlier drive alive.
“He is a great route runner. Excellent hands,” Grastorf said. “He’s definitely a threat.”
Competitive games were not a common feature of Week 1.
In the 16 games The Daily Gazette was able to obtain results from in Week 1, the winning team’s average margin of victory was 25.9 points.
Only three of those 16 games ended with the final score within a single-possession margin, while a dozen of the week’s games ended with a three-possessions-or-more scoring margin.
Nine of the week’s winning teams recorded shutout victories.
Sports editor Michael Kelly contributed to this story.