BURNT HILLS — Jack Shea got on the field for a few plays late in the football game as Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake was putting the final touches on a 28-0 win over Averill Park.
The one play the Spartans’ reserve made much earlier on helped swing momentum his team’s way.
“It was like a grand slam in baseball,” Burnt Hills coach Matt Shell said.
Shea blocked a punt in the first quarter, scooped the ball up and raced 45 yards for the first of four Burnt Hills touchdowns in Friday night’s Section II Class A league semifinal win over the Warriors at Centennial Field.
“It’s something I’ve been dreaming of,” said Shea, a junior tight end and defensive end. “This is my fifth year playing football, and it’s my first touchdown.”
Burnt Hills’ defense answered the call twice in the first half after fumbles, and Mike Frattarola ran for two touchdowns and Rocco Mareno added another in a win that vaulted the Spartans (6-0) into next week’s Class A title game.
“It was a big deal,” Shea said of his block and scoring return. “We needed something to get us going. We were slow getting off and that was a spark.”
Burnt Hills fumbled the ball away on the game’s first play from scrimmage and also lost it on a punt return to begin the second quarter. Fourth down stops on a fourth-and-goal from the 3 and on fourth-and-4 from the 19 followed those miscues.
“It’s not how we wanted to start, but our defense has been good all year, and they stepped up,” Shell said.
After coming up a yard short on its first series, Averill Park was forced to punt on its second after reaching the Spartans’ 34. That’s when Shea came up big.
“I was two down from the center. I had no one in front of me,” said Shea, who was among several Spartans who stormed in on Averill Park punter James Mooney. “I stuck my hands out — they don’t want us to dive because they don’t want us running into the kicker — and blocked the punt. I couldn’t see where it was, and the ball bounced my way. It found me, and I ran.”
“That’s awesome for him,” Shell said of Shea. “He’s a hard-working kid. We put him on that [special] team because of that, and he’s a good player.”
Frattarola ran 12 times for 89 yards and scored his touchdowns on runs of 3 yards in the second quarter and 8 yards in the fourth.
Mareno took an end-around 11 yards to the end zone earlier in the fourth, and Vincent Vendetti’s interception set up Frattarola’s second TD.
Jaleel Joseph added 69 rushing yards for Burnt Hills on five carries.
“I thought we did a good job of controlling the ball and controlling tempo,” Shell said.
Ben Ferlito was the top yardage maker for Averill Park (4-2) with 39 on four receptions, and Warriors’ fullback Dan McShane was limited to 33 yards on seven carriers.
“You have to be disciplined,” Shell said of his defense going against Averill Park’s Flexbone offense. “If you go the wrong way or go to the wrong guy, they’ll find it. You’ve got to play assignment football.”
Burnt Hills will meet Troy in the Class A title game at a site and date to be determined next week.
“We are super excited with the win,” Shell said. “We get to play next week for a championship.”
Burnt Hills has won four straight games against Averill Park, including a 17-7 victory in the 2019 Section II Class A quarterfinals and a 24-6 triumph in the 2016 Section II Class A title game.
Averill Park 0 0 0 0 — 0
Burnt Hills 7 7 0 14 — 28
BH — Shea 45 punt return (Sbuttoni kick)
BH — Frattarola 3 run (Sbuttoni kick)
BH — Mareno 11 run (Sbuttoni kick)
BH — Frattarola 8 run (Sbuttoni kick)
TROY CRUISES PAST QUEENSBURY
Xavier Leigh and Alex Wolfe led Troy to a 48-0 win against Queensbury in a Class A semifinal.
Wolfe rushed for two scores and passed for two more, while Leigh had two receiving touchdowns and rushed for one.
Wolfe was 6 of 10 passing for 154 yards, plus rushed for 47 yards on seven attempts. Leigh turned nine rushes into 74 yards, and added 79 yards on his two touchdown receptions.
Leigh had a 30-yard touchdown reception and a 49-yard scoring reception in the first quarter. After passing for two touchdowns in the first quarter, Wolfe rushed for one in the second to help give Troy a 20-0 lead at the half.
Avvon Smith added two touchdowns for Troy (6-0), while Queensbury (2-2) was led by Kolby Anderson with 102 yards on 12 carries.
Queensbury 0 0 0 0 — 0
Troy 14 6 22 6 — 48
T — Leigh 30 pass from Wolfe (Penalba pass from Wolfe)
T — Leigh 49 pass from Wolfe (conversion failed)
T — Wolfe 24 run (conversion failed)
T — Wolfe 4 run (Wolfe run)
T — Leigh 5 run (conversion failed)
T — Smith 10 run (Penalba pass from Wolfe)
T — Smith 2 run (conversion failed)