SECTION II – Strange as it seems, the Section II football regular season is already one-quarter over — more, actually, for those teams that took the field in Week 0.
Every team in Section II has played at least two games, and while some things have yet to sort out — division play in Class A doesn’t open until this week — we’ve started to get a pretty good idea of where teams stand as we head toward the rapidly-approaching stretch run.
So, after two-plus weeks of action, it’s time for a look at three things we know — and two things we don’t — about Section II football so far this season.
WHAT WE KNOW
1: A few defending champs didn’t miss a beat
The Section II champions in 2021 were, in descending order of classification, Christian Brothers Academy, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk, Schuylerville and Greenwich. Only CBA and Schuylerville have made it through Week 2 still undefeated, with Schuylerville looking dominant and CBA pulling out a thrilling overtime win against Shaker to stay perfect this past week, but Burnt Hills’ lone loss was to CBA and the Spartans looked plenty capable of being back on top of Class A in their 21-0 Week 2 win over Averill Park.
Meanwhile, Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk dominated through two games before running into Glens Falls on Friday night, while Greenwich was dominated by Stillwater in Week 0 but has posted back-to-back wins in Class D play, including a 20-17 win on Saturday against a Voorheesville team that also looks the part of a championship contender.
2: There are some pretty darn good do-it-all quarterbacks in Montgomery County
Amsterdam’s Jhai Vellon was the Daily Gazette 2021 All-Area Offensive Player of the Year, and he’s shown every indication of a potential repeat performance this year through the Rams’ first two games.
Amsterdam has scored 12 offensive touchdowns in wins over Schenectady and Queensbury, and Vellon’s had a hand in every single one of them — eight through the air, four on the ground. In Friday’s wild 60-35 win over Queensbury, Vellon passed for an Amsterdam record seven touchdowns, ran for another and exceeded both 300 yards passing and 100 yards rushing.
Meanwhile, Fonda-Fultonville’s Jackson Cusack had a stellar all-around performance in the Braves’ 49-13 win over Johnstown, accounting for six touchdowns — three passes, one run and two on kickoff returns — while also intercepting two passes on defense.
3: New coaches and new mergers have paid off
Speaking of Fonda-Fultonville, the Braves have given first-year head coach Mike Mancini a promising start, with a Week 0 comeback win against Central Valley Academy before back-to-back blowouts of Taconic Hills and Johnstown.
Meanwhile, not far away at Broadalbin-Perth, rookie coach Rick Wallace is also off to a 3-0 start, led by a fierce defense that’s recorded back-to-back shutouts and has allowed just six points thus far.
There’s also a handful of merged programs in their first seasons, and none has looked more comfortable than Lake George/Warrensburg/North Warren, which showed its potential by racing to a 72-7 win over Rensselaer in Week 2.
WHAT WE DON’T
1: If a fifth team will emerge to challenge for the Class AA playoffs
The last two years, the Class AA playoff picture has been fairly cut-and-dry, with a healthy gap between the top four of CBA, Shaker, Shenendehowa and Guilderland and the remaining quartet of Saratoga Springs, Colonie, Bethlehem and Schenectady.
The top four again look strong this year — the only loss suffered by any of those teams thus far was Shaker’s overtime setback against CBA — but if a fifth team does have the potential to step up, it could be Saratoga Springs, which has bounced back from a Week 1 loss to Ballston Spa with back-to-back wins over Niskayuna and Bethlehem.
The Blue Streaks host Guilderland this Friday, which should give a good indication if any of the “best of the rest” can challenge the established powers.
2: If Class A will produce chaos again
The end of the 2021 regular season in Class A was wild, with a three-way quarter points tiebreaker between Amsterdam, La Salle and Averill Park in the Capital Division and Queensbury bouncing back from a horrendous start to earn second place in the Grasso Division and eventually reach the Class A Super Bowl.
Division play opens this week, and we’ll get our first indications of what we’re in store for. There aren’t many marquee matchups this week, but Queensbury at Niskayuna in the Grasso Division and Troy at La Salle in the Capital Division should both be decent litmus tests of any potential insanity in store.