Ballston Spa has been Section II’s hard-luck football team through the early weeks of the season.
“We’ve put ourselves in a corner,” Scotties coach John Bowen said. “We wanted to be — and believed we could be — 3-0 at this point.”
Reverse the outcome of a handful of plays, and the Scotties just might have been heading to Shenendehowa tonight for a Class AA Empire Division game between unbeaten teams. Instead, they are 0-3, including one-point division setbacks against Bethlehem and Guilderland.
“We’ve lost in the last 60 seconds in all three games, and that’s frustrating,” Bowen said. “Most coaches don’t go 10 years and lose one game the way we’ve lost back-to-back-to-back.”
Ballston Spa has played some good football and led at the half in each game, only to be done in by turnovers, faulty execution and defensive breakdowns.
“The thing with this team is, we never had better numbers in the offseason. They’ve worked so hard. They’ve busted their butts, and to have played as well as they have and not finish games, I feel sick for these kids,” said Bowen. “They’ve put so much into it, and to not reap the benefits of victory, it’s tough to see. It’s been heartbreaking.”
Bethlehem rallied to beat Ballston Spa to begin the season, 19-18, before Schenectady came from behind with two late touchdowns in a 34-27 victory. Guilderland edged the Scotties last week, 21-20, the deciding points coming on a 70-yard pass play on third-and-20.
“The only game on paper that was close was the Schenectady game. In the Bethlehem game, we had the ball for 19 of the first 24 minutes of the game. We almost doubled their offensive output, and lost the game,” said Bowen. “Last week, it was the same type of deal with Guilderland. We’ve found ways to lose.”
A lost fumble set up a Bethlehem touchdown that helped the Eagles build on a 13-12 lead, and a missed extra point proved costly after Ballston Spa answered with a TD of its own in the final seconds. An interception set up Schenectady’s go-ahead touchdown in the final seconds. Another fumble ended Ballston Spa’s last attempt to overtake Guilderland.
“It’s a matter of finishing games, not turning the ball over, putting games away,” said Bowen. “We’ve talked about letting the game come to us, not pressing at the end and executing each play.”
Ballston Spa has division games remaining with Albany, Christian Brothers Academy and Saratoga Springs after tonight’s matchup with the Plainsmen at Steuerwald Stadium, and is still holding out hopes of making the Section II playoffs for the seventh year in a row.
“The other day, we talked about what we can control. We can still be 4-2 or 3-3 [in the division]. We can also be 2-4, 1-5 or 0-6. When they hear about the opportunity that’s ahead of us, it doesn’t sound so bad,” said Bowen. “At this point, it’s about moving forward and competing. We’re going to get after people.”
Albany Academy senior Jordan Newton was busy — and accurate — last Saturday with two goals and an assist in a 5-0 soccer win against Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk, and a 7-for-7 extra-point effort in a 49-6 football win over Hudson that followed.
Newton has been competing for both varsity teams since his sophomore year.
He scored two goals in a 6-1 soccer win over Glens Falls, and later that day went 4-for-6 on PAT attempts in a 48-8 victory against Green Tech in the Cadets’ football opener.
Host Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake will be joined by four other teams with state volleyball championships on their resumes at Saturday’s Cider Challenge.
The out-of-area group includes John Glenn, Baldwinsville, Lindenhurst and Pittsford Sutherland, which beat Burnt Hills for the 2010 state Class A title. The Spartans took the New York crown last year, their fourth such prize.
John Glenn won the state Class B title last year, its fifth New York crown. Baldwinsville placed second in the state last year after winning the Class AA title in 2010. Lindenhurst was the 2006 state Class AA champ.
Pine Bush, Horseheads, Schalmont and Queensbury are also entered in the tournament which will begin with pool play at 8 a.m. at the high school and O’Rourke Middle School. The afternoon quarterfinals, semifinals and title match (5 p.m.) will be held at BH-BL High School.
Burnt Hills beat John Glenn to earn the championship at its Hal Van Earden Memorial Tournament two weeks ago. The Spartans beat Queensbury in last year’s Cider Challenge final.
Nine Section II teams that appear in the first set of New York State Sportswriters Association girls’ cross country rankings are listed in Saturday’s Queensbury Invitational lineup, including No. 2 Class A Saratoga Springs, No. 1 Class B Holy Names and No. 1 Class D Greenwich.
Saratoga and Holy Names will be joined in the Division I (large schools) race by Shenendehowa (Class A No. 5), Colonie (Class A No. 18) and Queensbury (Class B No. 7), as well as Arlington (Class A No. 15), Cornwall (Class B No. 9) and Tappan Zee (Class B No. 15). Greenwich will be joined in the Division II (small schools) race by Maple Hill (Class C No. 9), Fonda-Fultonville (Class C No. 10) and Berne-Knox-Westerlo (Class D No. 6), as well as state-ranked Tri-Valley (Class C No. 3).
Saratoga, with Taylor Driscoll, Keelin Hollowood and Olivia Morrow, and Holy Names, with Leah Triller, Catherine Maloy and Blue Streaks transfer Estela Smith, were ranked No. 7 and No. 12, respectively, in the DyeStat national preseason poll.
Cougars join elite
Three impressive wins have propelled Canajoharie into the state’s top-20 rankings for high school football.
The Cougars are listed at No. 19 among Class D teams this week after opening with victories over Warrensburg (42-20), Lake George (37-6) and Hoosic Valley (28-6). Canajoharie won two games last season as Section II smallest Class C team.
Cambridge (3-0, No. 8) and Rensselaer (3-0, No. 11) are also ranked among the Class D teams by the New York State Sportswriters Association, and, like Canajoharie, are members of Section II Class D South Division. Rensselaer plays at Canajoharie tonight.
Other Section II state-ranked teams are Shaker (3-0, No. 10, Class AA), Shenendehowa (3-0, No. 15, Class AA), Troy (2-1, No. 7, Class A), Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (2-1, No. 10, Class A), Schalmont (2-1, No. 8, Class B), Lansingburgh (3-0, No. 13, Class B), Hoosick Falls (3-0, No. 3, Class C) and Fonda-Fultonville (2-0, No. 16, Class 16).
Hornell extended its football win streak to a state-leading 42 games last week with a 45-13 Section V triumph over Wayland-Cohocton.
Hornell captured the last three state Class B championships, and is competing at the Class C level this year. The Red Raiders’ streak includes a 50-20 triumph over Schalmont in the 2010 state final, and is the second-longest in the nation.
phillips to hALL
Fort Plain coach Craig Phillips, Section II’s all-time wins leader with 676, will be inducted into the Capital District Baseball Hall of Fame Oct. 28 at the Hilton Hotel in Troy.
Phillips has guided his teams to 21 league, nine Section II and four regional championships in 37 seasons. His 2007 team won the state Class C title.
Former Amsterdam High School coach Brian Mee, former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and the late Buck Ewing will be among the 25 inductees that make up the hall’s second class.
Here and there
The Shaker Hall of Fame will add Ross Cardinell (soccer, ice hockey), Robert Connor (all-around), Jennifer Farrelly (softball, field hockey, basketball), Seri Gordon (track),
Nathan LaRowe (gymnastics, diving), Scott Madison (baseball) and Brad Sheehan (basketball) to its roster in a noon ceremony Oct. 6 at The Century House in Latham. . . .
Duanesburg soccer player Mitch Hulbert curled in a 30-yard drive with four minutes left to create a 2-2 tie, and the Eagles and Schoharie stayed that way in a Western Athletic Conference draw last week. Hulbert, a sophomore forward, also assisted on a goal by Chris Smalls. A different player was credited with Hulbert’s tying goal in the Daily Gazette. . . .
The Shaker golf team set a school record for low team score with a 221 in a recent Suburban Council win over Niskayuna. Carter Brock, Tanner Donovan and Davis Jensen each carded an even-par 36 for the Blue Bison, and all nine of their players were under 40. . . .
Glens Falls golfer Alex Gibson fired a two-under-par 30 in a recent Foothills Council win against Broadalbin-Perth, giving him the lowest high school round ever posted at Holland Meadows.