Ballston Spa football hoping to sustain early momentum

Ballston Spa’s Blaine Zoller with the ball against Colonie’s Jose D’Allessandri during their high school football game at Ballston Spa High School in Ballston Spa on Friday, Sept. 10.
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Ballston Spa’s Blaine Zoller with the ball against Colonie’s Jose D’Allessandri during their high school football game at Ballston Spa High School in Ballston Spa on Friday, Sept. 10.

Head coach Greg O’Connor’s team already has two wins to its credit.

The Ballston Spa football team, though, still has plenty of room to grow and improve.

“We’re a young team, so we’ve been talking about making great effort every day because we have so much room to grow,” said O’Connor, whose 30-player team is made up of a majority of juniors. “The kids have responded to that. We talk a lot about being better tomorrow than we are today, and being better at the end of a practice than at its beginning.

“They’ve bought into that, they learn from their mistakes and they build on the correct things that we do.”

Ballston Spa (2-0) travels Friday to play La Salle Institute (0-1) at 7 p.m. in one of the top games of Week 2 of the Section II football season. The Scotties earned wins against Class AA opponents in Week 0 and Week 1, while La Salle didn’t play in Week 1 after losing 20-0 against CBA. The Brothers are considered one of the top teams in Class AA, and La Salle was down 7-0 at halftime of that game.

“They looked very good, just watching them on film,” O’Connor said. “They’ve got athletes all over the field. They’re quick. They’re big. You know they’re well-coached. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

Ballston Spa is coming off a strong effort. Blaine Zoller — a sophomore — scored two touchdowns, one on a rush and another on an interception, and led the Scotties with 98 yards on nine carries. Meanwhile, Darrien Insogna turned seven carries into 77 yards and two touchdowns, and Isaiah Hannah added a big play in returning a kickoff 83 yards for a score.

A win at La Salle could send a statement to the rest of the Section II Class A scene that Ballston Spa projects as a serious postseason threat. O’Connor, though, said his team is only concerned with the present.

“We’re just focusing on La Salle and this Friday night,” O’Connor said.

In another highlight of the Week 2 Class A schedule, Burnt Hills plays a home game against Troy, which defeated the Spartans in last season’s Class A championship game.

SCHEDULE CHANGES

COVID-19 protocols continue to force adjustments to the Section II football schedule.

While Fonda-Fultonville’s home game against Corinth/Hadley-Luzerne was moved to Monday to accommodate the Braves’ return to the field after being unable to play in Week 1, several teams are unable to play in Week 2. At least Albany, Helderberg Valley and Johnstown were unable to play their scheduled games this week.

Johnstown had hoped to rebound in Week 2 after losing its Week 0 and 1 games without scoring a point. Instead, Johnstown needed to call off its game against Schuylerville, which will instead play a non-league game against Chatham.

“Unfortunately, it won’t be rescheduled,” Johnstown athletic director Shane Jones said of his school’s game against Schuylerville. “The quarantine is 10 days. It wasn’t feasible for us to play this week.”

Jones said the Sir Bills are planning to compete in Week 3.

“As of now, we’re planning to play next week. We’re hoping things calm down a little bit and we can resume our season,” Jones said. “We’ll see what happens.”

BACK HOME, FINALLY

Two years, 11 months and five days after the team last played on its home field, Canajoharie/Fort Plain will finally host a football game Friday night.

Head coach Shannon Hyney’s team last played on home soil at Canajoharie High School on Oct. 12, 2018 in an 18-6 loss to Tamarac. Since that date, Canajoharie/Fort Plain has been on a bit of a barnstorming tour.

Construction on the track around the football field made the facility unavailable in 2019, with Canajoharie/Fort Plain playing its “home” games about 12 miles east at Fonda-Fultonville High School. When the fall 2020 season was pushed into the “Fall II” period this past March and April, that necessitated another change of venues due to concerns over field conditions, with Canajoharie/Fort Plain instead hosting games on turf fields at both Fonda-Fultonville and Amsterdam.

Friday at 7 p.m. against Warrensburg/North Warren/Bolton, the team finally returns home.

“The kids are pretty excited,” Hyney said. “We’re trying to hash out everything now — our entrances, what we want to do, how we want to change things up a little bit — and the kids are excited. Just to be back home and to have that excitement on a Friday night, instead of playing on a Saturday, the kids are extremely excited.”

Friday’s game represents a second-straight difficult test to start the season for a Canajoharie/Fort Plain (0-1) team that’s short on experience.

Canajoharie/Fort Plain started its season this past Saturday with a 32-6 loss to perennial Section II Class D power Cambridge/Salem, and things won’t get any easier against a Warrensburg/North Warren/Bolton team that’s rumbled to a 2-0 start while outscoring Cairo-Durham/Catskill and Helderberg Valley by a combined margin of 122-8.

SATURDAY SHOWDOWN

A matchup between Glens Falls and Schalmont highlights Saturday’s schedule of games.

In the final game of the Class B campaign last season that didn’t include a formal postseason, Schalmont outlasted Glens Falls 29-28 in a matchup of undefeated teams. Now, the teams meet at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Glens Falls.

Also part of Saturday’s slate of games is the debut of Schenectady, which missed its Week 1 game due to COVID-19 protocols. Schenectady plays host to Shaker, which defeated Burnt Hills in Week 1.

Categories: High School Sports, Sports

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