Schalmont extended a couple of streaks this season with a sixth straight Class B West Division championship and a fifth consecutive Super Bowl appearance.
A 54-7 Section II title-game win over Broadalbin-Perth last Saturday has the Sabres in position to extend another at the regional level, where they’ve never experienced defeat.
“We have had a lot of streaks,” said Schalmont coach Joe Whipple. “We want to finish this one the way we think we can finish it — on our terms.”
Schalmont followed up regional wins in 2009, 2010 and 2011 with mixed results including a pair of state semifinal losses and a win that resulted in a trip to the Syracuse University Carrier Dome. The Sabres (10-0) have made it clear that their objective is to get back there and prevail, but know well it’s a step-by-step process.
It starts Saturday at 1 at AuSable Valley against a Beekmantown team that in its last game put up 32 points in one quarter, and upset Peru prior to that to get out of Section VII.
“They have enough to compete. They’re big and physical, and they’ve done some good things,” said Whipple. “At this time of the season, you don’t overlook anybody. Our kids have watched film and know we can’t go there expecting to just breeze through it.”
“We can’t be complacent,” said Schalmont senior running back and outside linebacker Devon Willis. “This is definitely a big opportunity, especially for the seniors. We don’t want to go home.”
Schalmont thought it was going to be playing in a regional last fall, but was derailed by Glens Falls in the Section II final, 21-14. The Sabres had won 36 straight games against area Class B teams before that loss.
“Last year, we thought we were the top team. We wanted to win it all, and we got cut short. We didn’t get a chance to move on,” said Schalmont junior receiver and cornerback Hunter Gac, who was among the standouts in last week’s victory. “Now, we’ve got a chance.”
Schalmont’s first regional win came against Beekmantown in 2009 (34-20), and state quarterfinal victories over Ogdensburg Free (38-7) and Peru (25-20) came the next two years. Willis is the lone holdover from the 2010 team that beat Croton-Harmon in a state semifinal (28-14) and then lost to Hornell in the New York title game (50-20).
“We’ve got to take it game to game,” said Willis. “We’ve got to do what we know we can do, and play for each other. In the postseason, it’s a different level, and we’ve got to play every down harder, run faster and push each other to be better.”
Beekmantown was far better than Franklin Academy last week when it overcame a 6-0 deficit on the way to a 51-14 win in the Section VII-X playoff game.
“They’re big and fast, and they’ll come out fired up. We’re big and fast, and we’ll come at them,” said Gac. “We’re ready. We’re all confident. We all know what we have to do and we’re ready to play.”
Justin Stevens made several highlight-reel plays in the second quarter against Franklin Academy, all in the final minute and a half, with an interception, a one-handed 79-yard touchdown grab and a 60-yard interception return for a score. Jacob Remchuk threw three touchdown passes in the big quarter, two to Cameron Garceau.
“They played really well after an even first quarter,” said Whipple. “They played with a short field after a couple of turnovers and took advantage. They hit a couple of big plays. You score 32 points, you’re doing a lot of things well.”
Beekmantown (6-4) used its Delaware wing-T to grind out a 33-28 win over Peru in the Section VII final. Stevens scored the last of his four touchdowns late in the fourth quarter to push Beekmantown ahead.
“They’ll run shotgun, but their base offense is the wing-T. We’ve seen it twice with Broadalbin-Perth. Hudson Falls uses a variation of it. We have some wing-T philosophy, as well,” said Whipple. “It’s something we’re very familiar with.”
Schalmont has had success against every offense it’s taken on. The state’s No. 4-ranked team has allowed 31 points and no more than eight in any game, and has recorded five shutouts.
“Every offense we’ve seen, our defense has played so well,” said Whipple. “Our team speed is outstanding, but again, we can’t go through the motions. We’ve got to be fundamentally sound, read assignments and make tackles.”
Schalmont excelled in its Super Bowl win, limiting Broadalbin-Perth to 22 rushing yards and 48 passing yards while allowing four first downs. Gac had an interception and Nick Gallo had another to go with his 9-for-9 passing effort and two touchdown runs. Willis ran for four scores and 124 yards, and the Sabres amassed 300 rushing yards in all behind linemen Kevin Paskevich, Marcus Ramundo, Austin Wetsel, Sean McDonald, Matt Capovani and Aaron Smith.
“Everybody has different backgrounds, but when we play football, we all come together,” said Willis. “We form a family, and we form a great team.”
CBA AT DIETZ
Christian Brothers Academy makes its first state tournament appearance since 2006 in a Class AA quarterfinal Saturday night at 7 against Monroe-Woodbury at Dietz Stadium in Kingston.
CBA (9-1) made a late goal-line stand to hold off Shaker in the Section II final, 13-8, while Monroe-Woodbury (10-0) edged Newburgh Free Academy in the Section IX title game, 31-30, on a late field goal by Matt Paul.
The results set up a rematch, with Monroe-Woodbury dealing CBA a 21-0 state semifinal loss in 2006.
Brothers quarterback Joe Kolbe passed and ran for touchdowns, and Elliott Croskey turned in his 10th 100-yard running game with 108 in the Shaker win. Crusaders’ quarterback Kevin Carr ran for two touchdowns and passed for another while accounting for 388 yards of offense against NFA.
Section II Class A champ Queensbury (10-0) plays Massena (Section X, 7-2) Saturday at 7 at Shenendehowa. The Spartans halted Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s area title run at five with last week’s 14-7 win, and advanced to regional play for the first time since 1998.
A pair of small-school games take place tonight at 7, with reigning state Class C champ Hoosick Falls (10-0) hosting Ogdensburg Free (Section X, 9-1) at Stillwater, and Moriah (Section VII, 6-4) hosting Cambridge (10-0) in a Class D tilt at AuSable Valley. Cambridge is the all-time Section II leader with 15 state tournament wins.