SECTION II – Week 1 of the Section II football season is in the books.
Before we turn attention fully to Week 2, here’s one last look back at several notable moments from this past week’s football action.
RAMS, PATRIOTS UNITE
Before the Schenectady and Amsterdam football teams went at it Friday out on Larry Mulvaney Field, they joined forces during the playing of the national anthem.
For their part, the Rams and Patriots players and coaches joined with a dozen members of the Schenectady Air Force Junior ROTC to hold up a huge American Flag near the end zone closest to the high school while the anthem blared over the loudspeakers.
“I thought it was a great show of camaraderie and sportsmanship with Amsterdam and Schenectady,” said Schenectady athletic director Michaela Miranda afterward.
Mont Pleasant Middle School eighth-grade social studies teacher and United States Air Force veteran Steve Balogh was the lead organizer of the event. He owns several flags, and offered to lend his 30-by-50-foot, 43-pound stars and stripes for Friday’s ceremony.
“It was the home opener. Starting a new season,” Balogh said after the game. “What a way to open the season.”
Schenectady travels to Shenendehowa and CBA before returning home for its Sept. 30 homecoming game against Saratoga Springs. Miranda said the teams will be asked to join and hold the big flag.
“Showing unity was part of the idea,” Balogh said of Friday’s ceremony.
Amsterdam head coach John Homich never hesitated to have his team be part of the ceremony when Balogh asked him.
“When they presented that to me I was 100 percent in,” he said after his teams’ 32-6 non-classification victory. “There wasn’t a doubt.”
“I was on the Amsterdam side of the field,” Balogh said. “What was nice was seeing the Amsterdam players as they walked off giving high fives to the ROTC cadets.”
Guilderland coach Dan Penna usually is a one-quarterback guy, but presented with two who are both doing good jobs, he decided to play both in a 42-20 win over Averill Park on Friday.
Senior Damian Gizzi and freshman Travis Berschwinger each got time for the Dutchmen, and both delivered. Gizzi rushed 11 times for 64 yards and a touchdown, while going 1 for 1 passing for 12 yards. Berschwinger had five carries for 17 yards, and went 5 for 5 throwing for 144 yards.
“We run a spread offense where the quarterback is in charge of a number of responsibilities,” Penna said. “Usually it’s a job that takes time to establish yourself, but both players have done well, so for now we’re a two-quarterback team.”
Penna said Gizzi is able to execute the offense with more certainty, while the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Berschwinger has a more accurate throwing arm.
Another unusual thing at Guilderland this season is the number of returning starters. While a number of seniors return and start, there were only two returning starters this season.
“On paper, this is probably one of the least experienced teams I’ve had, but they’re working really hard, have good talent and are developing a nice chemistry,” Penna said.
In its 57-8 Class C South Division win over Taconic Hills, Fonda-Fultonville attempted just four passes and completed only one.
Quarterback Jackson Cusack had 65 yards and a 30-yard touchdown on three carries for FFCS. He also completed 1 of 4 passes for 24 yards.
Seven of the Braves’ eight touchdowns came on the ground. Peyton Webber scored on runs of 1 and 4 yards, Jonathan Cranker scored on a 21-yard run, Jackson Croucher scored on a 33-yard run, Jose Vargas scored on a 15-yard run, and Owen Hicks scored on a 10-yard run.
Croucher had 63 yards and a score on four carries for the Braves, Cranker had four carries for 34 yards and a touchdown, and Hicks added two carries for 23 yards and a touchdown. Hicks also had the lone reception of the night for FFCS for 24 yards.
Fonda-Fultonville’s other points came on a safety and a 55-yard punt return for a score by Karsen Bulan.
After scoring 13 points in its season-opening win at Central Valley Academy, the Braves passed that total with a 14-point first quarter against Taconic Hills. Fonda-Fultonville piled up 30 points in the second quarter to put the game out of reach by halftime.
The Braves are scheduled to travel to Johnstown on Friday for a 7 p.m. Class C South Division contest.
Scotia-Glenville had to rally twice in the second half to top Hudson Falls, 27-22, on Saturday.
Hudson Falls led 14-12 at halftime, but Bryce Layton found Paul Marotta for a 19-yard touchdown to give the Tartans a 19-14 lead.
After the Tigers regained the lead, Scotia-Glenville went ahead for good on a 58-yard touchdown pass from Layton to Kevin Greene.
While Layton’s 222 yards passing and three touchdowns are a nice thing, the Tartans’ defense also did its part by getting a 40-yard interception return for a score from Nick Coons and a safety from Nick Battaglia.
A PRETTY FAIR REPLACEMENT
Defending Section II Class AA champion Christian Brothers Academy suffered a pretty significant blow prior to the season when its 6-foot-7 star tight end/defensive end David Clement, a Syracuse commit, was lost for the year with a knee injury.
As difficult as Clement’s loss will be to cope with, the presence of senior Chuck Volans in the lineup lightens the blow.
A 6-foot-5 force with Division I interest of his own, Volans was dominant in Friday’s 23-6 win over Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake. He was only targeted once in the passing game, hauling in a 20-yard reception, but did the bulk of his damage on defense, where he spearheaded a Brothers effort that limited the Spartans to just 44 total yards.
“Chuck’s a special player. He’s earned everything that he’s got,” CBA coach Bobby Burns said. “He’s going to play well at the next level, too, but he’s a mainstay of our defense.”