Here are five things to know from Week 5 of the Section II football season.
HUMAN BATTERING RAM
Senior fullback Jaysiah Woodrow is a fan favorite of the Shenendehowa football faithful, and also of the guys he plays the game with.
“He is going to run the ball, and he is going to run people over,” Shenendehowa senior receiver and cornerback Dyvante Terrelonge said of his teammate after Friday’s 42-8 Class AA Empire Division semifinal playoff win against Schenectady. “When he’s blocking, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen him lay people out.”
The 5-foot-11, 265-pound Woodrow, who is both powerful and nimble afoot, did both of those things Friday in what was the Plainsmen’s fourth straight win.
“On the plays I don’t get the ball I want to create a hole for my teammate to get through,” Woodrow said. “When I get the ball, run through someone.”
Woodrow ran the ball eight times for 33 yards against Schenectady. He scored on a 1-yard run and gained first downs on lugs of five and four yards.
“He is a tough runner and a tough blocker,” Shenendehowa coach Brian Clawson said. “He is a team-first player who will sacrifice his body for the good of the team.”
Woodrow provided one of the highlights in Shenendehowa’s 35-7 Section II Class AA title-game win over Guilderland in 2019 when he broke several tackles and rumbled 27 yards for a touchdown in a put-away fourth quarter.
CLASS AA, A SEMIFINAL GAMES SET
Week 5 results set up pairings for the Week 6 Class AA and Class A league playoff semifinals.
The Class AA semifinals — or division title games — will have Shenendehowa (4-1) traveling to Guilderland (3-1) for an Empire Division showdown, and CBA (2-3) going to Shaker (5-0) for a Liberty Division clash. Friday’s 7 p.m. Shenendehowa at Guilderland game will be a rematch from the 2019 Section II large-school final that the Plainsmen won 35-7 as a stepping stone toward the state semifinals.
Shenendehowa defeated Schenectady 42-8, and Shaker beat Bethlehem 40-0, to start the Class AA playoffs Friday. Guilderland had the weekend off and CBA played a non-classification game with Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake because their scheduled playoff opponents, Saratoga Springs and Colonie, were on COVID-19 pauses.
The Class A semifinals will have Averill Park (4-1) going to the Grasso Division’s top team, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (5-0), and Queensbury (2-1) going to the Capital Division’s top team, Troy (5-0). Queensbury edged Troy in the 2019 Section II Class A title game 17-13.
Averill Park beat La Salle 20-13, and Queensbury beat Niskayuna 33-21, to secure their playoff spots.
With the inequity of games in Class C and Class D, as of Sunday Section II football was working out upcoming matchups for Week 6 that may or may not include playoff games. Class B is scheduled to complete its regular season in Week 6 before a one-week crossover in Week 7.
SCOTTIES’ IMMACULATE RECEPTION
With just three seconds left in the game Friday night Ballston Spa quarterback Andrew Kramer found Owen Walsh in the middle of the end zone for the wide receiver’s biggest catch of the year, completing a wild 34-31 comeback win against Amsterdam.
“He just ran a great route,” Kramer said. “We have a lot of weapons out there. He ran a great route, found a sweet spot in the zone so I gave it to him.”
With the ball on the 25-yard line it was more of a backyard route than something out of the Ballston Spa playbook.
“He just told everybody to run around and try to get open and that’s what happened,” Walsh said.
Pressure was on both the Scotties quarterback and his receiving corps.
“You get nervous when you see him and he’s open,” Kramer said. “You don’t really think about anything. I escaped the pocket, found him wide open, it happened naturally.”
Walsh slid to his knees and cradled the football as time expired and waited anxiously for the referees to signal the catch.
“I’m just trying to get open,” Walsh said. “I kind of found a spot in the end zone just to stay there, we locked eye contact and hit me on the route.”
In that moment, the football looked a lot different to Walsh as it headed towards him.
“It looked small, you don’t want to drop it, so you just have got to make sure you get under it and catch it,” Walsh said. “It was a little low through, I got down to my knees and I just caught it.”
BEEN A LONG TIME
The unpredictable nature of the “Fall II” football season has created some matchups that haven’t been seen in quite some time. CBA’s non-classification game Friday at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake was among them.
Before the Class A Spartans topped the Class AA Brothers 28-20 at Centennial Field, the teams last squared off in Week 8 of the 1994 campaign with CBA prevailing 26-21 in a Metroland Conference Division II game at Burnt Hills.
Current Burnt Hills head coach Matt Shell was an assistant with the Spartans back then, and current assistant Jason LaPietro was starting on the Spartans offensive line.
“Class As don’t get many opportunities to play AAs. A pause allowed us to do it, and it worked out well for both of us,” Shell said. “Of all the years this was the year to make it happen.”
CBA was left without a Week 5 game when its Class AA division playoff opponent, Colonie, went on a COVID-19 pause. Burnt Hills was originally slated to play a Class A league game at Scotia-Glenville Friday, and Scotia-Glenville instead played at Class B Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk. Ravena had an open date because its original Week 5 opponent, Holy Trinity, called off its season early last week due to a lack of players.
“Our guys played their tails off. So did CBA,” Shell said. “It was a great game. We needed that type of game and that caliber late in the year.”
LaPietro’s son, Burnt Hills quarterback Caeden LaPietro, scored on a two-yard run late in the game as Burnt Hills extended a 21-20 lead, and Michael Sbuttoni added the extra point.
Rather than give CBA a chance at a big kickoff return, Shell called for a Sbuttoni pooch kick that was recovered by teammate Vincent Venditti, and the Spartans ran out the clock.
“It was a huge team win because everyone had to do something,” Shell said.
A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING
Like many small-school teams with limited rosters, Broadalbin-Perth often asks its quarterbacks to take on a two-way role. Jackson Sassanella is no exception.
Like Vincenzo DiCaterino, Brodryk Benton and Dante Calderone before him, Sassanella does a lot more than run the Broadalbin-Perth offense. He also uses his size and athleticism to play a vital role on defense as an outside linebacker in head coach Jim Pelneau’s 4-3 scheme.
And that’s not all. Sassanella also handles punting and kicking duties for the Patriots (2-0).
Given the short season, Sassanella — one of the team’s four seniors — is glad to take on a bit of extra work.
“Get it all in while I can, I guess,” Sassanella said. “I can’t complain.”
In Saturday’s win, Sassanella completed 12 of 19 passes for 221 yards and a pair of touchdowns, with one of his key passes coming on a fake punt to Alex DiCaterino and extended a drive that led to Broadalbin-Perth’s first touchdown of the game. He also played an integral part on defense, made a downfield tackle on one of his own kickoffs and successfully made all four of his extra point attempts.
“Having such a small window of practice for him, he’s been doing a great job,” Broadalbin-Perth coach Jim Pelneau said. “We only had a very limited amount of time with him going into the spring. We’re proud of him. He’s a gamer.”