Big picture-wise, Schenectady’s 2019 football season was a grand success with six wins, including a last-second thriller against Bethlehem to cap its Class AA schedule and a crossover victory against Averill Park afterward.
That season didn’t start so well, though, with a trip to longtime rival CBA and a subsequent 42-12 loss.
“We got beat up up there,” Schenectady coach Carm DePoalo said. “We got trounced there.”
As if that’s not enough motivation for the Patriots heading into their rematch with the Brothers Friday at 6 p.m. Shenendehowa, there’s more.
CBA was the team that kept Schenectady out of the 2019 playoffs, when both teams pulled off a late-game comeback win to finish the regular season, and the Brothers moved on and the Patriots didn’t after tiebreakers decided things.
DePoalo didn’t mention that playoff miss too much this week as his team, a member of the Empire Division, prepared for the second of its four crossover games against a Liberty Division opponent.
“They know,” DePoalo said.
“That’s a game on our schedule that I circled,” Schenectady senior receiver and cornerback Denzere Woolcock said. “Since I’ve been here, we’ve never beaten them.”
Schenectady beat Colonie last week in its “Fall II” season opener 38-0, but it was a costly victory as Daily Gazette All-Area receiver and cornerback Jeremiah Davis and nose guard/offensive tackle Alejandro Rivera sustained knee injuries that could keep them out for the rest of the campaign. Davis caught the winning touchdown in the final seconds when Schenectady edged Bethlehem 36-29 to close out the 2019 regular season.
“Great teams have to fight through adversity,” DePoalo said. “We’re going to go there and expect to play football and expect to come out on top.”
“We’ve got plenty of guys to get it done,” Woolcock said.
Chris Davis and Moses Grant both ran for two touchdowns in the win over Colonie, and quarterback Nik Sanchez ran for a score and passed to Jahsean Haggray for another.
“We’ve got skill all over the place. We’ve got several wide receivers and several running backs we can plug in there,” DePoalo said. “But we’ve got to win the line of scrimmage on offense, and also on defense. CBA has some big boys and their lines are tough.”
CBA opened its season with a 40-0 win at Saratoga Springs. The Brothers took advantage of four fumble recoveries in the first half in building a 33-0 lead.
“CBA is a good program. CBA does a lot of good things,” DePoalo said. “[CBA coach Joe] Burke will have them ready.”
Brendan Simek ran for two touchdowns and caught a scoring pass from Jack Gregory in the win over Saratoga. Dylan Jones set up Simek’s TD runs with receptions, caught a scoring pass and recovered a fumble in the end zone for another TD.
“We need energy. We can’t come out soft,” Woolcock, a team captain, said. “I feel we’ve got to come out fast like we did last week. In a lot of games last season we came out slow.”
For this season’s alignment, Schenectady is in the Empire Division with Shenendehowa, Guilderland and Saratoga. CBA and Colonie are coupled with Shaker and Bethlehem in the Liberty Division
Following the first four crossover weeks of the season, the Class AA playoffs will begin in Week 5 with each division pitting its No. 1 against its No. 4 team, and its No. 2 against its No. 3 team. Each of those winners will meet in the Week 6 division final. The division winners will play for the overall title in Week 7.
Schenectady is looking to continue the momentum it has built with a four-game win streak that began in Week 7 of the 2019 season with a triumph over Saratoga.
“This game will tell us a lot about ourselves and where we sit in the standings,” DePoalo said.
Guilderland goes to Shaker Friday for another Class AA game pitting 1-0 teams.