It was a mix of miscues, big plays and extreme determination on both sides when Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake and Troy played for bragging rights, more than anything else, earlier this season.
The Spartans outlasted the Flying Horses on a rain-drenched turf field that night in a four-overtime epic.
“We felt we played pretty well, but after looking at the film, we really didn’t,” said Troy coach Jack Burger. “We played hard. I liked the effort part of it. Hopefully, we’ve shored up some of our mistakes and we’re a better football team than we were in Week 2.”
Spartans coach Matt Shell insists that the Flying Horses are. Their ledger, which includes six straight wins heading into tonight’s Section II Class A semifinal rematch, backs up that assessment.
“They’re playing well. Look what they’ve done to get here,” Shell said. “I think our kids are playing well, too. It’s going to be one of those games where you give it all you’ve got for four quarters, and see what happens.”
Shell knows what his Spartans (Northwest Division No. 2 seed, 7-1) will see in surging Troy (Southeast Division No. 1 seed, 6-2), which has won each of those six games by double digits since the 18-12 overtime setback.
Troy began its bounce back after losing to Queensbury (40-22) and Burnt Hills with a 26-14 win over Amsterdam, and extended it last week with a 48-0 quarterfinal rout of Gloversville. That win pushed Troy back into the state rankings at No. 24, while Burnt Hills maintained its No. 5 spot after the reigning New York champion dispatched Mohonasen, 67-8.
“Troy is always a physical football team. They always play good defense. On offense, they have that power running game and they can throw the ball,” said Shell. “They’ve got a lot of pieces to their offense that give you a lot of concerns. It’s a question of how prepared are our kids to go up against that. It tests you physically and mentally.”
Troy’s defense put a bow on last week’s win when De’Quann Mosley returned an interception for a touchdown and Marcus Dejong returned a fumble for another. Joe Germinerio’s scoring pass to Isaiah Thomas, two touchdown runs by Elijah Bethel and others by DiKemm Edmundson and Maurice Jones came before those turnovers.
“They have a good handle on what we want to do,” said Burger. “We have a good handle on what they want to do. It comes down to making tackles. That hurt us the last time.”
Josh Quesada ran 20 yards —actually more — for the winning touchdown when BH-BL edged Troy in what was Shell’s 100th victory.
“We had him four yards in the backfield. He spun off, and two other kids missed him,” Burger said of Quesada, who rushed for 188 yards. “He’s a quality kid. We’ve got to get him on the ground.”
Quesada is the leading touchdown-maker in Class A with 21, boosting his total with four last week. Fellow running back Danny Maynard produced three touchdowns as part of the five-time
defending champions’ 16th straight sectional victory.
John Clayton made his fifth start in a row last week after taking over for Maynard at quarterback, and the sophomore threw his fifth touchdown pass in that span, to Quesada.
“It was time. We thought, as a staff, he [Clayton] was ready, and Dan is very comfortable as a running back. The kids are good with it,” said Shell. “We’re putting kids in spots we think will make us competitive and successful each week.”
Clayton was supposed to see limited duty when Burnt Hills faced Queensbury in Week 4, but a rib injury forced Maynard to the sideline, and the JV call-up played the entire second half. He directed a fourth-quarter scoring drive, but missed an extra point afterward in Burnt Hills’ 28-27 loss.
“He’s improving each week,” said Shell. “The more reps he gets, the better he gets. We like what we see.”
Burnt Hills has not been involved in a close game since its battle with Queensbury, posting wins against South Glens Falls (60-14), Amsterdam (49-0) and Averill Park (41-0) before topping Mohonasen.
“The more football you play, the more you improve,” said Shell. “We’re both different than the first time we played because we’re both better.”
Troy dealt BH-BL its only loss last year before the Spartans won their final 12 games and their first state banner. Burnt Hills beat Troy the year before in the sectional semifinals.
“We’ve had some unbelievable battles with them,” said Burger.
Queensbury (Northwest No. 1, 8-0) will host Amsterdam (Northwest No. 3, 5-3) Saturday in the other Class A semifinal in a rematch from Week 5, when the Spartans prevailed, 48-28.
“Class A is outstanding this year,” said Shell. “If you get out of Class A in our area, you’ve had a good season.”
Defending champ Shaker (Liberty No. 1, 7-1) will host Saratoga Springs (Empire No. 2, 7-1), and Christian Brothers Academy (Empire No. 1, 7-1) will entertain Guilderland (Empire No. 3, 6-2), in tonight’s Class AA semifinals. CBA’s six-game winning streak includes a 40-6 victory over the Dutchmen.
Schalmont (West No. 1, 8-0) will be vying for its fifth straight Class B title-game berth when it hosts Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk (Reinfurt No. 2, 6-2) tonight, while Broadalbin-Perth (West No. 2, 7-1) travels to Cohoes (Reinfurt No. 1, 6-2) Saturday. Schalmont has registered four straight shutouts and allowed 16 points all season.
Fonda-Fultonville (South No. 2, 7-1) will attempt to end its postseason hex against Hoosick Falls (North No. 1, 8-0) in the first of two Class C semifinals Saturday at Stillwater. The Panthers’ 48-game Section II winning streak includes semifinal victories over the Braves in 2010 and last year, as well as a title-game triumph in 2011.
Chatham (South No. 1, 8-0) and Corinth (North No. 2, 6-2) meet in the night game at Stillwater. Corinth beat Voorheesville last week for its second sectional win in program history. The first came in 1979, in the Class D final against Lake George.
Saturday’s Class D semifinal double-header at Schuylerville will send Salem (North No. 2, 5-3) against Cambridge (South No. 1, 8-0), and Greenwich (North No. 1, 7-1) against Rensselaer (South
No. 2, 7-1).