BROADALBIN — The Broadalbin-Perth football team hadn’t played since March 26 and had spent the entire week of practice — until Thursday — preparing for a game against Green Tech.
A late change due to Fulton County’s guidelines for “high” risk sports in the facing of increasing COVID-19 positivity rates in the county forced the Patriots to scramble and turn their attention to a meeting with rival Johnstown instead, but in a season of chaos, one more last-minute alteration didn’t faze seniors Jackson Sassanella and Ryan Visco.
“We just wanted to play and give it our all,” Sassanella said Saturday after the Patriots’ 36-28 non-classification win. “After all, this could be our last game.”
“We’re just happy to play,” Visco said.
Visco totaled three touchdowns — two rushing, one receiving — and Sassanella threw a pair of touchdown passes for Broadalbin-Perth, which led 36-12 after Visco’s 13-yard touchdown run with 9:43 left in the fourth quarter, then needed to hold off a rally as Johnstown quarterback Caden Mureness led the Sir Bills on a pair of late touchdown drives to make it a one-possession game with 59 seconds to play.
However, Johnstown’s onsides kick attempt ended up out of bounds, and three running plays later Broadalbin-Perth picked up the first down it needed to be able to kneel out the clock.
“When you have low numbers, you wear out a little bit at the end,” Broadalbin-Perth coach Jim Pelneau said. “But, they kept battling, so I’m proud of them.”
Broadalbin-Perth (2-0) was playing for the first time since its season-opening 50-16 victory on March 26 against Gloversville. The Patriots then had back-to-back games against Hudson Falls and South Glens Falls wiped out by a COVID-19 pause within the program.
Pelneau’s team was back at practice this week preparing for a Class B North Division game against Green Tech, but by late in the week, Fulton County’s rolling seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate went above 4.0%.
That triggered the enforcement of county guidance that prohibits teams in “high” risk sports to compete against out-of-county opponents, scrapping Broadalbin-Perth’s game against Green Tech and Johnstown’s Class C game against Granville.
The two longtime rivals cobbled together a matchup on 48 hours notice, with Gloversville, the third team in the county, as the odd team out after its game against South Glens Falls was called off.
“From Sunday to about Thursday morning, we were play Green Tech — and then it switched,” Pelneau said. “That’s the name of the game. You’ve got to line up and play this spring.”
“We told these guys, ‘We have two days to install what we’ve got to install, but so do they [Broadalbin-Perth],’
Broadalbin-Perth led from Sassanella’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Sean Helfrich midway through the first quarter and stayed in front the rest of the way.
It was a back-and-forth contest for most of the first half, but a 24-yard interception return for a touchdown by the Patriots’ Alex DiCaterino with 1:50 left in the first half have Broadalbin-Perth a 22-12 halftime lead.
“We were blowing a few coverages,” Pelneau said. “We made a quick couple adjustments, and Alex made a great play on the ball and finished it off.”
Visco added touchdown runs of 41 and 13 yards in the second half as a B-P running game that struggled early against a much larger Johnstown defensive front began to find some rhythm.
Mureness, who threw three touchdown passes and ran for another score, marshaled Johnstown (1-3) to a late rally, but the Sir Bills never got the ball back with a chance to tie.
“We’ve had rough starts,” Hall said, “and we just keep battling back. .
B-P — Helfrich 20 pass from Sassanella (Visco run)
J — Betts 34 pass from Mureness (kick failed)
B-P — Visco 54 pass from Sassanella (Sassanella kick)
J — Krempa 34 pass from Mureness (kick failed)
B-P — DiCaterino 24 interception return (Sassanella kick)
B-P — Visco 41 run (Sassanella kick)
B-P — Visco 13 run (Sassanella kick)
J — Mureness 2 run (Betts pass from Mureness)
J — Krempa 6 pass from Mureness (Mureness run)