SCHENECTADY — The Schenectady football team will need to have a few breaks go its way Saturday afternoon when it hosts Shaker on its newly resurfaced turf at Larry Mulvaney Field — because it hasn’t gotten any yet this fall.
Saturday will be the first competitive contest for Schenectady this fall, losing its scrimmage date with Scotia-Glenville due to a COVID-19 result within that program, while the same fate fell upon the Patriots, forcing the team to quarantine for more than a week and cancellation of last Friday’s game against La Salle.
On Tuesday, Schenectady coach Carm DePoalo was able to assemble the team as a group once again, looking like another first day of practice.
“They’re dragging,” DePoalo said. “They’ve been home for a week. They’re like anyone else, they got lazy. We’re trying to make some changes to keep up the pace until they’re a little stronger.”
The return to practice had DePoalo running through a range of emotions; his head in his hands after yet another bad snap to quarterback Nick Sanchez, a shout at a player reminding him of his duties on a play followed by several other quiet moments pulling a player aside reminding him that they would get it, he needs them on this team and they are going to make a difference.
The miscues were mental more than physical for the Schenectady squad as Tuesday was more than its return to practice, it was its first day back in school.
“I was trying to get back to school,” senior wide receiver Miguel Flores said. “This is my senior year. I want to be in school, not online like last year. It wasn’t good. I want to learn. Virtual [learning] last year was not my thing.”
Missing a week of practice for senior lineman DeVaughn Miller was not well received.
“I was very disappointed. I was really ready to go, to play, but we got the news [COVID-19 exposure within the team]. It was a hard thing to take in,” Miller said. “I did my homework, ate healthy, stayed in shape and kept my mind ready for this week.”
Miller said taking on perennial Class AA contender Shaker without any previous live snaps will be tough.
“It’s going to be a challenge, but I think our team can be disciplined enough and strong minded to get the job done,” Miller said. “We have to communicate every play, we have to know our jobs, where we’re going, all our reads. That’s the key.”
Cancelling a scrimmage and a week one contest shortchanged senior wide receiver Majestic Tyler, who is looking to put up big numbers this year, now tabbed as a starter.
“This is going to be our home opener, my first varsity game,” Tyler said. “It stressed me, not being able to play with them [during quarantine].”
Shaker (1-0) took care of Class A Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 28-7 last week and presents a notable challenge for Schenectady.
“They’ve got a great quarterback. He throws the ball, he scrambles all over the field and they have a couple great receivers, but I think we can play with them,” DePaolo said. “I really, really do. Most people think I’m out of my mind … If we do what we’re supposed to do. I like our chances.”