Shenendehowa football riding wave of momentum into Class AA Super Bowl rematch with CBA

Shenendehowa football player Cody Smith blocks on a field goal attempt during practice Tuesday.
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Shenendehowa football player Cody Smith blocks on a field goal attempt during practice Tuesday.

CLIFTON PARK The way the Shenendehowa football team is walking into Friday night’s matchup with Christian Brothers Academy seems remarkably similar to the way head coach Brian Clawson’s team headed into its last matchup with the Brothers.

That meeting, 11 months ago, was in the Section II Class AA Super Bowl, with the Plainsmen coming into the game having beaten rival Shaker for the first time in a decade the week prior.

This time, when the Plainsmen welcome CBA to Brent T. Steuerwald Stadium on Friday for a tilt between the two remaining undefeated teams in Class AA, they’ll once again be doing so seven days after an emotional, dramatic win over Shaker.

“That was an emotional win,” Clawson said of last Friday’s 20-14 overtime win over Shaker. “I felt like it wasn’t as emotional as last year’s win, because we hadn’t beaten them in 10 years. It’s always great to beat a [team like] shaker, but it was a little different in terms of that.”

Clawson and the Plainsmen are hopeful that this year, the result against CBA will be different as well.

The Brothers captured last year’s area title game, 28-14, but a lot has changed since then for a Shenendehowa team that entered this year with 15 new starters.

Friday’s game is a chance to prove just how quickly the relatively young Plainsmen have grown up.

“It’s a big chance for a statement,” senior defensive end/tight end Cody Smith said. “Going against the team we lost to in the playoffs and hopefully being able to beat them, it’s something that we look forward to.”

Clawson’s been impressed with how rapidly this Shenendehowa (3-0 Class AA, 4-0 overall) team has matured this season.

The Plainsmen breezed through early-season wins over La Salle, Schenectady and Bethlehem, but the Shaker game was a much different animal. Shaker rallied from an early 14-0 deficit to tie the game and force overtime — the tying score came minutes after a potential game-sealing Plainsmen score was wiped out by a penalty — before the Shenendehowa defense forced its fourth turnover of the game in overtime and Henry Picard won it with an 11-yard touchdown run.

“They’re resilient,” Clawson said. “Anything that comes their way, good or bad, they’ll fight through it. . . . There’s going to be times in a game where things are not going well, and our guys just battle.”

The matchup with CBA (3-0, 5-0), which boasts a stifling defense that’s limited four of five opponents to 13 or fewer points along with a dynamic offense spearheaded by electric junior quarterback Donald Jones, will provide similar challenges this week.

Thankfully for the Plainmen, keeping up the energy in preparation from one big game to the next hasn’t been an issue.

“We were so hyped up for Shaker,” senior wide receiver Luke McAuliffe said, “and we’re keeping up all that intensity for CBA.”

“We’ve got great energy,” Smith said. “Every day is intense. Now, we’ve got CBA this week and we’re all hyped up to see what we can do.”

Other things to look out for as Week 5 of the Section II football season kicks off Friday.

More: All SportsEverything Clifton Park-Halfmoon

THE ‘OTHER’ CLASS AA GAME

While plenty of attention will be fixed on Steuerwald Stadium, the third team in the three-way tie atop the Class AA standings also has a crucial game.

Saratoga Springs (3-0 Class AA, 4-1 overall) has won four straight since its season-opening loss to Ballston Spa, and hosts Shaker (1-2, 2-3) in a crucial matchup for both teams. For Shaker, it’s a chance to solidify its playoff positioning heading into the home stretch. For Saratoga Springs — which beat Schenectady last week despite calling freshman Jack Ringabar up from junior varsity to start at quarterback in place of injured senior Rodell Evans III — a win would keep the Blue Streaks in prime position to earn a home game, or even the No. 1 seed, in the Class AA tournament.

If Shenendehowa and Saratoga Springs are both victorious Friday, it’ll set up a clash for first place next Friday between two of Section II’s most storied rivals.

CLASS A POWERS COLLIDE

When Amsterdam visits Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake for a non-division matchup Saturday at 1:30 p.m., it could be a prime example of the unstoppable force vs. the immovable object.

Amsterdam (2-0 Class A Capital Division, 4-0 overall) boasts one of the most explosive offenses in Section II, putting up 177 points in four games while quarterback Jhai Vellon has already accounted for more than 1,500 yards of total offense as a runner and passer.

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (2-0 Class A Grasso Division, 3-1 overall), on the other hand, thrives on defense, having allowed just 20 points combined in its three wins against Class A opposition and holding CBA — which is averaging 48.8 points per game against its other four opponents — to just 23 points, which included a safety and an interception returned for a touchdown.

BIG TESTS IN CLASS B AND C

The other matchup of unbeaten teams in Section II this week comes in Class B on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. as Gloversville (5-0 Class B, 5-0 overall) visits Glens Falls (4-0, 4-0) in a matchup to determine sole possession of first place. Both teams have gotten to this point fairly comfortably, with Glens Falls’ 21-13 Week 2 win over Ravena as the only game for either team to be decided by single digits.

On Friday night, the team that’s had the most statistically impressive start to the season — Warrensburg/Lake George/North Warren (4-0 Class C North Division, 5-0 overall) — faces what should be its most difficult test to date when the Wolverines host Hoosick Falls/Tamarac (3-1, 3-1). All that Warrensburg/Lake George/North Warren’s done in its first year as a merged team is outscore its opposition 299-24. If the Wolverines win Friday, that’ll set up a de facto division championship game next Friday at Schuylerville.

More: All Sports | All High Schools

Categories: Clifton Park and Halfmoon, High School Football, High School Sports, Sports, Sports

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