BALLSTON SPA — Team bonding activities are nothing new for high school sports teams. However, Ballston Spa football takes it to the next level.
During their preseason camp, with double practice sessions between the morning and afternoon, the Scotties spent some of their time together in the woods on the outskirts of the school, where they built a tree fort.
“We love each other. We’re a family and we do everything together,” said Ballston Spa quarterback Nico Savini. “We’ll go into the neck of the woods and build a fort together. That’s just the kind of stuff we do.”
“The first fort we made was actually behind the school and it was sick,” wide receiver Blaine Zoller said in admiration of his team’s work. “It was so sick. We’d all go back there after practice to build it. We’d be doing double sessions, so between [practices], we’d go back and build it. It was our hangout.”
Following the second practice of the day, the Scotties typically head out for a family meal.
“We love that Chipotle,” Savini said. “It’s our spot.”
After being a Class A football program in recent years, the Scotties are now a member of Section 2’s Class AA division, competing against the largest programs in the area, including Shenendehowa, Shaker, Saratoga Springs and CBA.
On Thursday, Ballston Spa mounted a fourth-quarter comeback, scoring 22 points in the period, to defeat Saratoga Springs 28-14. A victory over the Blue Streaks is significant, looking at the big picture of the season, towards the Scotties making the playoffs in its first season in the AA division.
“I’d be lying if I said my guys weren’t looking at the standings and looking at opponents,” said Ballston Spa coach Jason Ohnsman. “We try to take it one game at a time, but they knew with this being right down the road, it was going to be a big game. They understood the magnitude of it, but it took us most of the first quarter for us to work that out. Once they did, we locked in and played really well.”
“We’re excited,” Zoller said of bumping up a classification. “Every single one of us is excited.”
“It’s just more competition,” Savini added.
Ballston Spa trailed most of the game until breaking out in the fourth quarter, which included three touchdowns and a pair of 2-point conversions.
“We had to own our mistakes in the first half,” Ohnsman said. “Our guys owned it and just started playing better football in the second half, not trying to overcompensate, but just doing their jobs and making their plays.”
“We’re Scotties, but we’re all dogs inside,” Savini said. “That’s what came out of us in the fourth quarter.”
While the win over Saratoga Springs makes the path to the postseason much more viable for Ballston Spa, the focus is now on its next game.
“I’m thinking Shen right now, but it’s good to beat a team like that,” Zoller said. “Saratoga’s really tough, and we took our chances towards the end. It’s a good look, because in the beginning, even though we didn’t have things together, if we can still get a win, it’s really big for us.”
Ballston Spa is now 2-1 overall and 1-0 in Class AA games. The Scotties will visit Shenendehowa next Friday at 7 p.m., and then host Guilderland the following week.
The student-athletes weren’t the only ones interested in the outcome of the game between the neighboring schools.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday promoting the game, Ballston Spa mayor Frank Rossi wagered a lunch bet to Saratoga Springs mayor Ron Kim.
Kim then countered.
“Rather than lunch — which given the demands on our time is hard to schedule,” Kim commented on Rossi’s post, “how about the loser wears the winner’s jersey at the next City/Village Council meeting.”
Given the result, Kim will be representing Ballston Spa at the Saratoga Springs City Council meeting Tuesday.
“A bet is a bet in this town,” Kim said in a post on X (formerly Twitter). “Congratulations to the Scotties, the Streaks put up a good fight. Victory is sweetest after defeat.”
Ballston Spa 0 6 0 22 — 28
Saratoga Springs 7 0 7 0 — 14
S — Rhude 5 run (Deleonardis kick)
B — Savini 1 run (kick failed)
S — Zeh 5 pass from Rigabar (Deleonardis kick)
B — Fiorini pass from Savini (Zoller pass from Savini)
B — Savini 35 run (2-pt successful)
B — Zoller 10 pass from Savini (run failed)