Shenendehowa’s homecoming game served as Chris Fama’s coming-out party Friday night.
The backup quarterback threw three touchdown passes as part of a dominant first half as the reigning Section II Class AA champion Plainsmen soared to a 49-7 Empire Division win over Ballston Spa.
“Chris prepared himself in the offseason to be the starting quarterback at Shenendehowa. When he wasn’t named the starter, he kept a good work ethic. He stayed sharp,” said first-year Plainsmen coach Brian Clawson. “He was tremendous tonight.”
Fama did all of his offensive damage in the first half, completing six passes on six attempts for 101 yards with a scoring strike to Eric Hurd and two to Kyle Buss. Fama attempted his only other varsity pass in last week’s 57-0 victory over Bethlehem after starting quarterback Ryan Buss went down with an ankle injury.
“Ever since I started playing football, I wanted to be a starter in a homecoming game,” said Fama.
The senior’s first pass was a wobbler that Buss hauled in for a five-yard gain and a first down. His next pass covered 35 yards when he found Kory Felix in stride to set up Hurd’s three-yard TD one play later.
“On the first two passes, I was a little nervous,” Fama said. “My arm warmed up, and I got some confidence.”
Fama’s performance helped Shenendehowa (4-0, 4-0) open up a 42-0 halftime lead en route to its fourth straight win against the Scotties (0-3, 0-4).
“It’s Ballston Spa. The rivalry over the years has been increasing and increasing,” said Kyle Buss. “The focus in the locker room was more than I’ve seen in two years.”
Shenendehowa, the state’s No. 15-ranked Class AA team, scored on each of its six first-half possessions, including one- and two-yard bursts by Marcelino Christie to begin the assault. Each of those scoring drives began in Ballston Spa territory.
“We came out with a lot of emotion, a lot of energy,” said Fama. “We put it together.”
“When we were in the coaches’ office, we didn’t hear anything. And when we came out for the pre-game speech, the locker room was silent,” Clawson said. “They were so focused. They knew what they had to do, and the execution was top-notch.”
Buss scored all three of Shenendehowa’s second-quarter touchdowns. His first came on a sideline catch and sprint covering 30 yards, his second on a 48-yard dash and his third came on a diving 21-yard grab in the end zone.
“He [Fama] threw some nice balls, and his receivers have nice hands out there and do not have a lot of wasted motion with their routes,” said Ballston Spa coach John Bowen.
“He stepped up and got the job done,” Buss said of Fama. “If you watch him in practice, you’d think he could start for any other team in the section.”
Shenendehowa’s big first half saw the hosts limit the Scotties to 47 yards of offense and one first down. D.J. Edick’s interception set up Christie’s second touchdown run, Buss had an interception just before his long scoring dash and the half ended when Hurd sacked Ballston Spa quarterback John McDonald.
The contest also ended on a turnover when Matt Hardy picked off McDonald for a third time.
“That’s a fast team, the fastest I’ve seen, top to bottom, in my 15 years in Section II,” said Bowen, a former Shenendehowa assistant.
Only Matt Hommel’s 19-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter kept Shenendehowa from posting its third straight shutout. The Plainsmen blanked Guilderland in Week 2, 34-0, after a 58-6 triumph over Albany.
“We’re trying to make a statement,” said Buss, a senior who plays cornerback on defense and rotates at running back and receiver on offense. “I think the section knows we’re here.”
Jared Allen capped Shenendehowa’s first drive of the third quarter with a 15-yard touchdown run before Ballston Spa countered with its 14-play, 73-yard scoring sequence.
Ballston Spa had lost one-point games to Bethlehem and Guilderland, and fell by a touchdown to Schenectady, before Friday’s matchup. Each of those games were decided inside the final minute.
“I can’t complain with this group. I’m coaching a great group of kids,” said Bowen. “We’ll continue to work and continue to move forward.”
McDonald led Ballston Spa with 49 rushing yards, and Sam Groves ran for 42 yards while catching three passes for another 30.
Ballston Spa 0 0 7 0 — 7
Shenendehowa 21 21 7 0 — 49
S — Christie 1 run (Vilardi kick).
S — Christie 2 run (Vilardi kick).
S — Hurd 3 pass from Fama (Vilardi kick).
S — K. Buss 30 pass from Fama (Vilardi kick).
S — K. Buss 48 run (Vilardi kick).
S — K. Buss 21 pass from Fama (Vilardi kick).
S — Allen 15 run (Vilardi kick).
BS — Hommel 19 run (Keefe kick).