The wet and muddy conditions couldn’t slow down reigning state Class C football champion Hoosick Falls.
Neither could the Mechanicville defense, which allowed the Panthers to score touchdowns on three of their first four possessions and roll to a 40-0 Class C North victory Friday night that extended Hoosick Falls’ winning streak against Section II opponents to 42 games.
“It is what it is. You’ve got to go with what you’ve got,” said Red Raiders coach Kevin Collins. “Mistakes, inexperience on both sides of the ball killed us.
“We’re young, inexperienced and had a couple of key guys go down. That’s just how it is sometimes.”
Junior quarterback Garrett Wright and senior running back Brandon Hodges are replacing two of the key players from the Panthers’ state-title team in Billy Pine and bruising runner Brad Burns.
That duo helped the Panthers to a 27-0 halftime lead, as Wright ran for a score and threw a TD pass to Levi Brewster around a pair of touchdown runs by Hodges, who finished the game with three TDs.
Both got considerable varsity experience in 2012, as Hoosick Falls often had games well in hand by halftime.
“I played a fair amount,” said Hodges, who has inherited the role of featured running back. “We all had to battle for our spots, but I was hoping I would get it.”
“You just have to move forward. It’s a new year, you have to reload,” said Wright. “I actually got to play a lot last year, because we played so well, I got into a lot of games and got a lot of experience.
“It’s not that much different. The guys are picking up where we left off last year.”
After Mechanicville went three-and-out on its first possession, Hoosick Falls stunned the Red Raiders with a 37-yard pass completion on its first play, leading to a Wright’s TD run two plays later.
“There’s going to be a time when it’s wet and you’re going to have to be able to do it,” said Hoosick Falls coach Ron Jones of the big gainer.
After that, the Mechanicville defense saw a lot of Hodges, who rarely went to the turf after first contact.
“He’s good about keeping his legs moving and leaning forward,” said Jones.
Hodges said he was enjoying himself.
“I love playing in the mud,” he said.
Mechanicville’s game plan was altered due to an injury to quarterback Brandon Russell.
“We couldn’t really run our option, because Brandon had a bad ankle,” said Collins, whose team beat Catholic Central in its opener. “And we knew we couldn’t run it on a muddy field, so we had to go to our power game.”
That meant more carries for senior Chase Delossantos.
“We moved the ball some. Delossantos had a good game, so we can build on that,” Collins said.
“It’s trial by fire. We told the young kids that they’re going to get experience real quick. That’s part of the game.
“You’re going to run into teams like that, and you’ve got to pick yourselves up and keep working.”
Jones likes the way this year’s players have seamlessly moved into starting positions as the Panthers shoot for their fifth straight Section II championship.
“Nothing has fazed them yet. They keep adjusting to what we give them, or what happens around them,” he said. “It’s good to have that attitude, because you wont get caught by surprise, hopefully.
“I haven’t spent any time comparing us to last year, because that doesn’t help us win.”
But the players know what they want to accomplish, fueled by an 88-7 scoring edge through two games.
“Obviously, it’s our goal to get back to the [Carrier] Dome,” said Hodges,” referring to the site of the state championship game. “We just take it one game at a time, because that’s the way to do it.
“If you don’t do it that way, things can go downhill.”
Hoosick Falls 14 13 6 7 — 40
Mechanicville 0 0 0 0 — 0
HF — Wright 5 run (Dubois kick)
HF — Hodges 17 run (Dubois kick)
HF — Hodges 12 run (Dubois kick).
HF — Brewster 15 pass from Wright (kick failed).
HF — Hodges 6 run (pass failed).
HF — Davendonis 23 run (Dubois kick),