Knowing that a matchup with their biggest rival awaits them at the end of two arduous weeks of preseason camp is more than enough motivation for the Gloversville and Johnstown football teams to embrace the grind of two-a-day practices.
“Every day,” Gloversville tight end and defensive end Gio Glionna said Monday, “from here on out until then, we’ll be building up to face our rivals.”
The first-ever “Week 0” for Section II football brings with it the renewal of one of the area’s most storied rivalries, as Gloversville and Johnstown will kick off the season against each other on Sept. 3 at Knox Field.
It’ll be the 92nd meeting in a series that dates back to the 1920s, and the first renewal of the battle for the Gloversville Lions Football Trophy since 2018.
“It’s definitely a reason to keep pushing,” Johnstown quarterback Bryce Mureness said. “We’ve got that game, and it’s going to be fun. Hopefully, we can go out there and get the win.”
Practices for fall high school sports opened across Section II on Monday under the specter of rising numbers of cases of the novel coronavirus.
During the 2020-21 academic year, “high” risk fall sports — including football — were not permitted to take place during their regular position in the calendar, moving instead to an abbreviated “Fall II” season held during March and April. This school year, sports are currently moving forward without such restrictions in place at a state- or section-wide level, though individual districts are putting forth their own requirements for COVID-19 testing, masking and vaccination.
New Johnstown football coach Paul Furman opened his first football practice Monday morning eager to move forward.
For Furman, an Amsterdam graduate and former long-time assistant with the Rugged Rams, there’s no better way to start his tenure than by facing the Sir Bills’ biggest rival.
“That’s a great opportunity for me, as a first-time head coach here, it’s a great opportunity for our kids, and for the community,” Furman said. “It’s an old-school rivalry, something that was stopped because of classification play. This Week 0 game gives us an opportunity to bring this back, and I look forward to opening the season every year with it.”
The “Week 0” format allows teams to schedule what amounts to a preseason game during the weekend that would traditionally be allotted for scrimmages. Some teams are still opting to hold scrimmages during the weekend, and though the Gloversville-Johnstown matchup won’t factor into standings or area playoff seedings, there are serious bragging rights at stake.
“It’s an opportunity to play more football,” Gloversville coach James Robare said. “Instead of going out on a Saturday and scrimmaging, let’s have a game and see what happens.”
Gloversville leads the all-time series 44-40-7, but Johnstown holds the most recent victory in the rivalry, beating the Huskies 35-28 in 2018. The teams didn’t meet in 2019, and were scheduled to wrap up their “Fall II” slates against each other this past April, but that game ended up being canceled due to coronavirus protocols and quarantines at Gloversville.
“There’s no better way to start the season than by playing Gloversville,” Johnstown linebacker Ethan Petrie said. “There’s no better way to excite the team than by saying, ‘Hey, you’re going to play Gloversville the first week.’”
“Everyone’s excited for that game,” Gloversville quarterback Garrett Dooling said. “It’s been three years since we played Johnstown, and they won last time, so they’ve had the trophy. Everyone really wants to get that back.”
GLOVERSVILLE TO TEST ATHLETES
The Gloversville Enlarged School District announced Monday that it will conduct surveillance testing on 10% of its athletes from “high” risk sports — football and volleyball during the fall season — from the modified through varsity levels for COVID-19 on a weekly basis starting Monday, Aug. 30.
The testing will be done on a random basis, and student-athletes who are vaccinated against COVID-19 do not have to participate in the testing, but must provide proof of vaccination.
The rapid tests will provide results in 15 minutes. If negative, a student will be given a letter to take home stating that they were negative for COVID-19. If a student is positive, their parent/caregiver will be contacted and the student will stay isolated from others until picked up. The student must then follow a 10-day isolation protocol and contact tracing will begin.