FONDA — Lots of ups and downs, twists and turns, quick transitions, sudden starts and stops.
Fonda-Fultonville’s football season has been a thrill ride — the good and the bad.
“It’s been a roller-coaster ride,” Fonda-Fultonville head coach Sean Thompson said.
It’s a been a ride that’s seen the Braves play — and win — games on four different days of the week while more than half of their regular-season games were rescheduled or canceled outright due to various circumstances.
It’s a ride that saw Fonda-Fultonville pushed to the brink early when quarantine protocols related to the coronavirus pandemic forced the team to forfeit its first Section II Class C North Division game of the season, only for the team to rebound from a 3-3 start to power its way to the program’s first Class C championship game appearance in seven years.
It’s a season that’s moved at a breakneck pace with constantly shifting tides, but as the Braves (7-3 overall) prepare for Friday’s Class C Super Bowl against undefeated Schuylerville at Lansingburgh High School, they took a little time to reflect.
“I could write a book about this one season, about all the things that’ve gone wrong, or not gone the way we expected,” Thompson said. “The great thing about these guys is they’ve gotten stronger as they grow. They bounce back.
“They’re resilient. I think that’s a great word to describe these guys.”
Fonda-Fultonville’s roller-coaster ride through the season included:
- A Week 0 game against Broadalbin-Perth that was called off when Broadalbin-Perth did not have enough available players to compete. Fonda-Fultonville instead traveled to Section VII’s Peru — which had its original Week 0 game called off when Green Tech pulled out due to availability issues brought on by COVID-19 quarantines — and picked up a 56-20 win.
- A Week 1 game against Cobleskill-Richmondville that Fonda-Fultonville was forced to forfeit as quarantines left the team without enough eligible players. The team sat for 10 days before finally playing a rescheduled Week 2 game against Corinth/Hadley-Luzerne on a Monday and winning 56-0 despite playing on a day’s notice with no legitimate preparation. That also forced Fonda-Fultonville to play its Week 3 game against Schuylerville with just three days to prepare, a game Fonda-Fultonville lost 14-7 against a squad that won the rest of its games this season by an average of 31.8 points per game.
- A Week 4 game against Section III’s Vernon-Verona-Sherrill came up when COVID protocols left V-V-S without an opponent. That game also saw a shift in scheduling from Friday night to Saturday afternoon.
- A Week 6 game against Johnstown that was moved due to numerous bizarre circumstances. An hour before the scheduled Friday night kickoff, the game was called off due to there not being any officials available for the game. Had the two teams played that night, it’s almost certain the game would not have finished due to the massive thunderstorms that passed through the region that night. The game was instead moved to a Sunday afternoon kickoff, with Fonda-Fultonville winning 40-0.
Oh, and that forfeit to Cobleskill-Richmondville all the way back in Week 1? That’s the reason Fonda-Fultonville entered the Class C tournament as the fourth-place team out of the North Division, sending them on the road to South Division champion Watervliet in the quarterfinals — a game the motivated Braves won 68-8.
“There’s been a lot of adversity,” senior running back and linebacker Giovanni DiCaprio said.
It hasn’t been easy, but that hasn’t fazed this team a bit.
“It’s always been eventful,” said Fonda-Fultonville senior lineman Tyler Schmidtmann. “All the guys, they just dig deep. They know that Friday night we’ve got to come to win.
“Whatever night we’ve got to play, we’ve just got to win.”
Senior Garrett Neff is out with an injury, but the wide receiver and defensive back, a five-year varsity player who remains a team captain, has been incredibly impressed with his teammates’ adaptability and resilience.
“It’s so remarkable to see how our guys have come together,” Neff said. “We’ve had literally last-minute changes. These guys just lace up their boots to come to work, and they play with a fire we’ve never had in this program the last five years I’ve been in it.”
When you’re on a roller coaster, sometimes the best thing to do is simply enjoy the ride.
“It’s just been weird,” Thompson said. “We’ve embraced it. We’ve overcome the obstacles thrown in our path. We think it makes our kids tough and competitive. We’ll see what happens.”