Students from Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons and Saratoga Central Catholic will be playing football together again, and they could be getting some help.
“I’m 95 percent sure it’s going to go,” said John Barber, who guided the Sainted Knights in their inaugural 2013 season. “Right now, we’re sort of on a hold pattern because we have to wait for the final yes, but I’ve been going 100 miles per hour, and I’ll continue to go until someone says stop.”
A proposal for Catholic Central to join the two other schools for a combined team has been in the works since December.
Catholic Central, like ND-BG and Saratoga Catholic, has for years struggled with player numbers. The Crusaders went 0-5 in Section II’s Class C league last season before they forfeited their last two games. The Sainted Knights went 2-6, including a forfeit win as part of Section II’s Class D league.
“We’ve got approval from all three schools and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association,” said Barber, who would be the team’s head coach. “We need approval from the superintendent of the Albany Diocese and Section II. As far as Section II, my understanding is it will get through.”
Barber said he’ll be working with football players one way or another.
“Yes, we could play, but we’d be in the same situation as last year,” he said. “We’d be a Class D league fighting every week with 20, 21 kids, and some of them would be ninth- and 10th-graders. That’s not beneficial to kids.”
Bishop Gibbons has 18 students signed up to play football in the 2014 season.
“Saratoga Catholic has 10 to 12 kids and Catholic Central has 17. Catholic Central brings a lot to the table,” said Barber. “With them, we’re looking at 40-plus kids. We can put a quality varsity team out there.
“This would give more kids an opportunity to play, and play safer.”
The proposed team would play in Section II’s Class C league, and Barber said its nickname would be the Holy Trinity. Bishop Gibbons would serve as the home base of operation, with games at the Schenectady school and at Catholic Central.
“We’ve got the field house with an office, locker room and weight training equipment,” Barber said. “Everything is right there.”
niskayuna going ‘a’
Niskayuna will compete in Section II’s Class A football league this upcoming season, and will not be eligible for the playoffs.
Niskayuna is a Class AA-size school. The Silver Warriors went 0-5 in the Liberty Division and 2-7 overall in 2013.
“We’ve got great kids and dedicated kids, but we’ve got an extremely small senior class,” said Niskayuna coach John Furey. “I’m looking out for what’s best for the kids.”
Niskayuna had 12 juniors on its 2013 roster, and their only returning starter is 11th-grade receiver Mitch Dame.
“I have seen the ins and outs of both Class A and Class AA,” said Furey. “Knowing the physicalness of Class AA, that would be very tough on our team. That’s why I requested it.”
Section II approved the move.
“We’d like it to be a one-year deal, and then get back to business as usual,” said Furey. “That’s what we asked for, and that’s what we were granted.”
Furey has had his hand in a couple of things he believes will make the Niskayuna program better down the road.
“We’ve brought in the middle school kids to lift,” he said. “Number one, I get to know the kids. Number two, they get stronger.”
Niskayuna fifth- and sixth-graders will be playing with those from Schalmont, Colonie and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in a youth football league this upcoming season.
“A couple of years ago, we got out of Pop Warner because it wasn’t serving as a feeder program. We had very few kids near the end,” Furey said. “What I proposed to get more kids involved was a K-6 youth football flag league. We got more kids involved and it was a nice situation, and from there we went to the alternative youth tackle program.
“We got involved at the end of last year, and this year, it will be full blown.”
Julia Van Horne became the first eighth-grader in more than two decades to win the Section II all-around gymnastics title Wednesday at Shaker High School.
With her 35.050 score, the young Blue Streak equaled the feat Shannon Bagley turned in as a Shaker eighth-grader in 1991. Bagley went on to win a record four Section II individual crowns.
Van Horne became Saratoga’s sixth all-around winner in seven years, and helped the Blue Streaks claim their 13th consecutive team championship. The Blue Streaks also won their seventh straight Suburban Council title this season, and 12th in 13 years.
Saratoga became the first school to sweep the all-around since 2005, with senior captain Victoria Shaffer and sophomore Courtney Kirshe taking second and third. In 2005, the Saratoga trio of Kaitlin Dewey, Kiya McIntyre and Carla Selig took the top three spots.
Kirshe placed first on the uneven parallel bars, marking the seventh year in a row that a Saratoga athlete won the event.