In each of Shenendehowa’s first two football games this season, the Plainsmen trailed at halftime.
“They’ve responded,” Shenendehowa head coach Brian Clawson said.
Shenendehowa knows it needs a solid first half, though, to keep up with a Shaker squad that brings a matching 2-0 record into a Class AA showdown at 7 p.m. Friday at Brent T. Steuerwald Stadium in Clifton Park.
“We need to come out sharper and a little more mentally focused in the first half than we have been,” Clawson said.
Shenendehowa recorded double-digit wins in its opening games against Queensbury and Guilderland, respectively. Those wins were registered on the strength of a combined 47-0 advantage after halftime.
Shenendehowa turned a 6-3 halftime deficit into a 30-6 win against Queensbury in Week 1. In that game, four different Plainsmen scored a rushing touchdown in the second half. Then, last week, Shenendehowa trailed 9-3 at halftime before sandwiching an 86-yard touchdown rush from Carter Cukerstein with touchdowns scored off interceptions from Brandon Fahr and Connor Margan.
Meanwhile, Shaker has largely cruised through its first two games. Shaker won 28-7 against Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in Week 1 before registering a 36-point win against Schenectady in Week 2. Sophomore quarterback Jake Iacobaccio, Clawson said, has been particularly impressive for the Blue Bison.
“He’s outstanding — and if he’s in the pocket and it breaks down, he’s so elusive,” Clawson said of Iacobaccio, who has passed for three touchdowns and rushed for five this season.
While Shenendehowa cannot afford a slow start against Shaker, Clawson said an advantage taken from the Plainsmen’s opening two contests was that they know they’re not out of a game if they fall behind.
“It’s shown a lot of character and resolve,” Clawson said, “and we’re definitely battle-tested.”
SPARTANS SEEKING 2ND WIN
Through a Week 0 scrimmage with Shenendehowa and a 1-1 start in its first two regular-season games, Burnt Hills head coach Matt Shell has liked what he’s seen from his team.
“These guys, I really enjoy watching them play and compete,” Shell said. “They give a great effort, and that’s something I expect them to do every week.”
Burnt Hills plays at La Salle at 7 p.m. Friday in a matchup of 1-1 teams that project to be factors in the Class A playoffs later this year. Shell said La Salle’s combination of size and speed puts opponents “in some tough spots,” but the Spartans have already responded this season in a positive way when they found themselves in a tough spot. Burnt Hills trailed Shaker 28-0 in the third quarter of that Week 1 matchup, but Shell appreciated the way the Spartans kept battling in that game against a Class AA foe rather than allow the Blue Bison’s lead to balloon.
“Moral victories don’t count, but I thought we really competed,” said Shell, whose team won 49-0 the next week against Troy. “We came out and started playing football the way I know we can play.”
Two days before Fonda-Fultonville’s Week 0 game, the Braves’ opponent switched from Broadalbin-Perth to out-of-section Peru.
Next, the Braves had to sit out Week 1 and forfeit their game against Cobleskill-Richmondville due to COVID-19 protocols within their program.
Then, Fonda-Fultonville played its Week 2 game — after practicing one time following its program’s pause — this past Monday against Corinth/Hadley-Luzerne.
Now, head coach Sean Thompson’s team plays at 7 p.m. Friday at Class C powerhouse Schuylerville to conclude a busy week of football.
“We,” Thompson said, “don’t know what it’s like to have a normal week yet.”
Through it all, though, the Braves haven’t seemed to struggle at all on the field. In the two games Fonda-Fultonville was able to contest on the field, it won by a combined score of 105-21.
“We’ve just been trying to adjust as best we can and keep our kids positive and focused,” Thompson said. “It hasn’t been easy. It’s been a roller coaster.”
He added: “But [our players] are still fired up and working hard.”
Schuylerville is 3-0 on the season and ranked No. 3 in the latest Class C state poll. The Black Horses have outscored their opponents 101-12 this season.
“They’re very, very good,” said Thompson, whose squad is ranked No. 12 in the state poll. “Very well-coached. They play very hard.”
And, despite the challenges his club has faced this season, Thompson expects his players to match Schuylerville’s intensity when the two teams meet in one of Week 3’s top games.
“Our kids,” Thompson said, “are going to be ready to play.”