Many football players progress from one year to the next. A few others, like Schenectady High School senior Kwame Jarvis, take a giant leap forward.
“The improvement from his junior to senior year was just remarkable. He put in countless hours in the winter, spring and summer to improve his game, physically and mentally,” said Patriots coach Jim Kramer. “He’s a great example of what hard work and putting the time in can do.”
Kramer altered the Schenectady offense to fit Jarvis’ newly developed strengths, gave him the keys and the second-year starter not only drove the Patriots back to the playoffs for the sixth straight time, but also set several school records along the way with his 119 completions on 197 attempts, 1,734 passing yards and 15 touchdown tosses.
A good quarterback in his first year as a starter and a star the next year, Jarvis is the first Patriot to earn Daily Gazette All-Area Offensive Player of the Year honors.
“He was a different level player, and we constructed our offense around him,” said Kramer. “We went to a shotgun and went with a lot of three- and four-receiver sets because we had a great amount of confidence in his ability.”
Jarvis put his improved footwork and passing motion on display when he threw his first three touchdown passes in a superb fourth-quarter comeback in a 32-31 season-opening loss to Columbia. The Patriots went 6-2 the rest of the way, losing only to Section II Class AA champion Shaker twice, and each time by a touchdown.
“He brought his ‘A’ game every time we played. He was fantastic,” Kramer said of the Class AA Liberty Division Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year candidate, who passed for just over 1,000 yards as an 11th-grader. “Every single thing we did ran through him.”
Jarvis led all area Class AA, A and B quarterbacks with his 15 touchdown passes, and he ran for two more. Five times, he threw two TDs in a game while orchestrating one of the Section II’s most entertaining offenses. Six of his TD passes covered 20 yards or more, including a 65-yarder to Felix Rodriguez when the Patriots beat Ballston Spa, 34-27, and a 73-yarder Alex Phann when the Pats edged Christian Brothers Academy, 28-27, in the sectional quarterfinals.
“He’s one of the better pure throwers I’ve seen in a long time around here,” said Kramer. “He can make a lot of different throws. He can hit it with zip, touch or go long. All of that came with his progression as a quarterback.”
Jarvis passed for over 200 yards on four occasions, topped by a 285-yard effort against Ballston Spa and a 276-yard performance against CBA on 21-for-28 efficiency. Though he threw four interceptions that night against one of Section II’s best defensive groups, he was picked off only six other times.
“He is a very, very accurate passer,” Kramer said. “Some guys build their [pass] percentage with dink and dunk throws. He did not. We threw the ball down the field a lot.”
The 6-foot, 175-pound righty led Schenectady to seven-on-seven summer camp championships at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Utica College, and capped his senior season with winning touchdown pass in the Section II senior all-star game.
Rodriguez caught 39 passes from Jarvis covering 537 yards, ran for 423 yards on 70 attempts, and scored eight touchdowns each way in one of Section II’s most prolific dual performances. The junior scored on a 93-yard kickoff return the first time he touched the ball this season in the Columbia game, and also played both safety and linebacker on defense.
“He is the word ‘versatile,’” Kramer said of the All-Area first-team receiver. “He can run as well as anyone around and get open against any kind of coverage. On defense, he can cover and tackle. He’s a very special player.”
Rodriguez caught Jarvis’ three TD passes in the Columbia comeback, ran for the winning TD against Ballston Spa with 17 seconds left, and scored on a run, a reception and an interception return in a 33-21 victory over Colonie.
Albany Academy senior Darrien White also made a huge two-way impact with the ball, and finished with 28 receptions for 473 yards and two touchdowns, and 30 carries for 399 yards and six touchdowns. The Class B Reinfurt Division Offensive Player of the Year had one of the best receiving games for an area athlete this year in a 53-50 loss to Lansingburgh with 11 grabs for 215 yards and two TDs, and also threw for a score.
“As a playmaker, he’s fantastic,” said Cadets coach Tony Fruscio. “Put the ball in his
hands in open space, and no one can stay with him.”
Speed, shifty moves and a bulked up physique helped two-time Gazette first team running back Devon Willis amass 1,632 ground yards on 136 carries and 28 touchdowns as he helped Schalmont reach its fourth straight Class B title game.
The Class B West Division Player of the Year bolted for a school-record 352 yards in a season-starting 41-16 win over Glens Falls, twice eclipsed 200 yards and five times went over 100.
“He ran with authority. He never got tackled by one person,” Schalmont coach Joe Whipple said of the three-year varsity performer. “He made a commitment to the weight room. He really pushed himself, and he was more difficult to tackle.”
Willis scored four touchdowns in the Glens Falls win and three times delivered five touchdowns. He only played two full games, with Schalmont often opening up huge leads by halftime. In his 10 games, Willis eclipsed his 12-game junior totals of 1,588 yards and 19 TDs.
Senior Chris Smith pounded inside and used his breakaway speed to land a second All-Area first team nod while becoming Columbia’s first 3,000-yard back (3,045). This fall he had
1,306 yards on 179 carries, 11 touchdowns and five two-point conversions despite being the target of every defense Columbia faced.
Smith had 219 yards when the Blue Devils beat Schenectady, totaled 200 and produced both of his team’s TDs in a 34-12 sectional semifinal loss to Shenendehowa, and had five 100-plus yard efforts in between.
SCORED 18 TDS
Ryan Griffin kept his legs churning from the first snap to the last in a sensational season for first-time Section II champion Shaker, and totaled 1,099 yards and 18 touchdowns on 159 carries. The Class AA Liberty Division Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year candidate ran for over 100 yards in Shaker’s final four games, and in six of their last seven.
“The last two games he played with a torn meniscus. He wanted to keep going for his teammates,” said Shaker coach Greg Sheeler. “Mentally, he’s the toughest kid I’ve been around.”
Griffin scored at least one touchdown in every game, and had 20 in all, with two receiving, while also kicking 25 extra points. The senior scored the clincher when Shaker beat Shenendehowa in the Super Bowl, 14-0, and delivered the deciding TD in a 28-21 Section II semifinal win over Schenectady.
Griffin often broke free after a block from All-Area tackle David Morrision, while Schenectady tackle Tyler DePasquale, Christian Brothers Academy guard Mike Zaloga and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake center Nick Marchesiello for the second time earned first team Gazette nods. They are joined by Shenendehowa tackle Chris Stewart.
With a Section II-leading 59 extra points, Burnt Hills’ senior Ryan McDonnell is the first team place kicker. The multi-talented Spartan is also among Section II’s finest on punts and kickoffs, and as their starting quarterback has produced over 1,000 yards of offense and 16 rushing (5) and passing (11) touchdowns.
McDonnell had a 19-point game with a field goal, four PATs and two rushing TDs when BH-BL beat Schalmont, 37-0, and went 7-for-7 on extra points with 117 passing yards and two scoring strikes in a 49-14 win over Queensbury. The two-year starter’s vast contributions have helped BH-BL reach back-to-back state Class A title games.