BURNT HILLS — The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake football team already had plenty of fire in its collective belly entering the season after falling 50-3 in last season’s Section II Class A final to Troy.
A Week 1 loss to Class AA Shaker in early September just added to it.
“Honestly, it was not a terrible thing,” Spartans’ senior running back Michael Frattarola said of the 28-7 setback against Shaker to begin this campaign. “It made us realize we had to do a better job. We got angry. It gave us a lot of motivation.”
Burnt Hills hasn’t lost since, making it five in a row against Class A competition with a 41-7 victory over Ballston Spa Friday night at rainy Centennial Field.
Looking nothing like the team that opened at Shaker, Burnt Hills scored touchdowns on its first five possessions in building a 35-7 halftime advantage.
“In the second half of the Shaker game, we played good football where it could have gone sideways for us,” Burnt Hills head coach Matt Shell said. “We’ve built off that second half.”
Burnt Hills scored 49 points against Albany and 42 against Queensbury leading into Friday’s Route 50 rivalry game.
“We have definitely progressed as a team since Week 1,” Frattarola said after running for 145 yards and a touchdown.
“The kids are really working hard,” Shell said. “That’s the bottom line.”
The Burnt Hills offense was sharp in rolling to 28-0 and 35-7 leads. The Spartans’ first possession started with Rocco Mareno turning a short pass into a 41-yard gain before Frattarola ran for 11 yards and then 12 to the end zone.
Mareno capped Burnt Hills’ next series with a 38-yard scoring run, and Jaleel Joseph reached the end zone on a 63-yard dash soon after.
“I was really pleased with our linemen because they allowed us to run the ball, and with our defense,” Frattarola said. “We let up a touchdown, but did a great job. We were physical and brought it to them.”
The Spartans padded their lead on the first play of the second quarter when Tyler Manning hit Justin Gray with a 55-yard touchdown pass, which was part of a 5-for-8, 131-yard effort for the senior quarterback.
“Tyler is really coming into his own,” Shell said. “And he’s got good running backs around him and good receivers.”
Joseph ran for 84 yards, a night that included a 1-yard surge for his second touchdown in the second quarter. Michael Puglisi helped set up the TD with a 22-yard run.
“We’ve gotten better in every phase of the game,” Shell said of his group — ranked No. 9 in the state.
Michael Sbuttoni supplied the final six points for Burnt Hills with a 29-yard field goal in the third quarter and a 37-yard field goal in the fourth. Frattarola helped set up the first field goal with a 39-yard run and Mareno helped set up the second with a 23-yard reception.
Sbuttoni was the late-game star when Burnt Hills edged La Salle for its second Class A win 24-21 when the senior nailed a tie-breaking 37-yard field goal.
“On this stuff, and he was dead down the middle,” Shell said of his kickers’ performance in the steady rain, which followed his five extra points in a first-half drizzle. “He’s excellent.”
Aidan Davis caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Kramer to get Ballston Spa (0-4 Class A, 2-4 overall) on the board in the second frame, and Darrien Insogna was the Scotties’ offensive workhorse with 125 rushing yards.
Shortly after halftime began, the game was halted for 30 minutes due to lightning. The game was also called with a couple minutes left in regulation due to more lightning.
Ballston Spa 0 7 0 0 — 7
Burnt Hills 21 14 3 3 — 41
BH — Frattarola 12 run (Sbuttoni kick)
BH — Mareno 38 run (Sbuttoni kick)
BH — Joseph 63 run (Sbuttoni)
BH — Gray 55 pass from Manning (Sbuttoni kick)
BS — Davis 5 pass from Kramer (Potter kick)
BH — Joseph 1 run (Sbuttoni kick)
BH — Sbuttoni 29 FG
BH — Sbuttoni 37 FG