BALLSTON SPA — Blaine Zoller saw it coming.
All week in practice, the Ballston Spa outside linebacker was drilled by defensive coordinator Jason Ohnsman to scope out Colonie’s bubble screens. Late in the first quarter of Friday’s Section II non-classification football game, Zoller sniffed a screen out.
“All week,” Zoller said, “coach Ohnsman was telling me, ‘You jump on that ball if it comes your way.’”
Zoller broke on the pass from Colonie quarterback John Kemp, picked it off cleanly and raced 25 yards for the touchdown. That came less than 60 seconds after Zoller’s work at running back set up Ballston Spa’s first touchdown of the game, and helped the Scotties on the way to a 38-22 win.
A 6-foot-3, 190-pound sophomore, Zoller starred all over the field for Ballston Spa (2-0) on Friday night.
On offense, he ran for a game-high 98 yards on nine carries, leading a balanced offense that made things comfortable for junior quarterback Aidan Davis, who got the start with senior Andrew Kramer held out — save for a cameo as the Scotties’ punter — due to an ankle injury. On defense, Zoller was a constant menace on the perimeter, shutting down Colonie’s outside run game.
“He was outstanding on both sides of the ball tonight,” Ballston Spa head coach Greg O’Connor said.
With Kramer out, Ballston Spa relied on a consistent ground game to help Davis manage things in his first career start.
The Scotties controlled the line of scrimmage, rushing for 257 yards with a balanced attack behind an undersized offensive line that spent much of the night dwarfed by the duo of Zoller and 6-foot-3, 215-pound fullback Darrien Insogna (seven carries, 77 yards, 2 TDs) toting the ball behind them.
“We’re not big,” O’Connor said, “but we play with great effort.”
Zoller summed up Ballston Spa’s physicality a bit more colorfully.
“The line are dogs,” he said. “They fight for every yard, and that’s the reason we win.”
Up 14-0 after Zoller’s pick-six, Ballston Spa was in control until Colonie (0-2) found a spark in its passing game late in the first half as John Kemp found Thomas Davis three times for 78 yards on a last-minute drive, capped off by a 20-yard touchdown that made it 14-6 at the half.
Ballston Spa quickly regained momentum to start the second half, with Isaiah Hannah collecting a bouncing kickoff and finding a seam to race 83 yards untouched for the score to restore a two-touchdown lead.
“It was a big turn of events,” Colonie coach Greg Bearup said. “Great kick in a great position, the ball’s on the ground and all of a sudden the coverage got a little too deep and ran by it. . . . That’s difficult to overcome right at the start of the second half.”
Insogna rumbled for a pair of third-quarter touchdowns, helping the Scotties stem any momentum that Colonie got from a kickoff return touchdown of its own by Thomas Davis.
For Ballston Spa, which opens its Class A Capital Division slate next week at La Salle, the victory over Colonie was the second straight over a Class AA foe, following the team’s 24-8 Week 0 win over Bethlehem.
“We’re making progress,” O’Connor said. “We’re a young club, and we just try to improve every day. One game at a time, one day at a time, one practice, one drill at a time.”
Colonie 0 6 8 8 — 22
Ballston Spa 14 0 24 0 — 38
BSpa — A. Davis 2 run (run fail)
BSpa — Zoller 25 interception return (Zoller run)
Colo — T. Davis 20 pass from Kemp (Run fail)
BSpa — Hannah 83 kickoff return (Leahey run)
BSpa — Insogna 9 run (Insogna run)
Colo — T. Davis 79 kickoff return (Kemp run)
BSpa — Insogna 43 run (A. Davis run)
Colo — Lewis 1 run (Lewis run)