The Schalmont football team isn’t concerned about asthetics at this stage of the season. The focus is on advancing, be it ugly, pretty or somewhere in between, and getting another state title shot.
“I don’t care if we win by one point or 40 points,” Sabres coach Joe Whipple said. “We want to keep playing.”
Schalmont can do so with a win against Peru tonight at 7 in a Class B regional game at Shenendehowa’s Steuerwald Stadium. Both teams are 10-0 heading into their second state quarterfinal meeting, the other in 2011 going the Sabres’ way, 25-20.
“We always respect our opponent,” said Schalmont senior center Andrew Hewitt. “We also believe if we do what we’ve been doing, execute our blocks, make reads and tackle, we should come out on top.”
Schalmont came out on top in each of its four previous regional games, beating Beekmantown last year, 60-6, before topping Marlboro in the semifinal round, 66-0. Schalmont’s second bid for a state championship ended with a late touchdown and two-point conversion in a 22-21 loss to Maine-Endwell.
“Our guys are definitely playing with an edge because of the Maine-Endwell game,” said Whipple. “That game and the Glens Falls game were two of the worst-best things to happen to us.”
Schalmont lost to Glens Falls in the 2012 Section II final. That was the last time Schalmont bowed to an area opponent, and stretched its area winning streak to 20 games last week by toppling Schuylerville, 40-8, behind quarterback Nick Gallo’s four touchdown runs and 193 ground yards.
Gallo also hit Devin Higgins with a touchdown pass, and Hunter Gac ran for a score and had an end zone interception.
“The kids played complacent,” Whipple said, looking back to the 21-14 loss to Glens Falls. “The kids learned a lesson.”
Schalmont has been anything but complacent this season, jumping on every opponent with a first-half barrage of points. Schalmont led, 27-0, last week, and scored all 49 of its points in the first half in a sectional semifinal win against Broadalbin-Perth.
Peru (Section VII) beat Franklin Academy (Section X) in a sub-regional last week, 59-6. Quarterback Blake Altizer became the all-time leading Section VII touchdown pass leader with four, boosting his three-year total to 71, and Brandon Sawyer ran for a pair of touchdowns and 130 yards.
“They play good competition. They play teams that are bigger than them,” said Whipple. “They’ve got a good quarterback who throws well. They’ve got some bigger kids. They’ve won by some lopsided scores. They’re undefeated for a reason.”
Peru is the only regional opponent to have given Schalmont a serious challenge. Schalmont beat Beekmantown, 54-20, in 2009, and knocked off Ogdensburg Free Academy, 38-7, in 2010, en route to its first state title-game appearance.
“The last time we played Peru, we got up on them and they came back,” said Whipple, whose team led, 25-0, in that 2011 contest. “That’s something to think about.”
Section II teams are 9-4 all-time against Peru in regional competition. Glens Falls beat Peru in 2012, 36-20. This year’s Peru edition is averaging just over 400 yards of offense per game, and attacks with a no-huddle offense like the Sabres.
Defending state Class B champion Queensbury (10-0) will take on Massena (Section X, 5-4) tonight at 7 at Potsdam High School. Queensbury stretched its win streak to 23 games with a 34-13 win over Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake last week.
Shenendehowa (10-0), Hoosick Falls (10-0) and Cambridge/Salem (9-1) will see regional action Saturday.
Shenendehowa travels to Dietz Stadium in Kingston for a Class AA clash at 7 with first-time state tournament participant John Jay-East Fishkill (Section I, 9-1). Hoosick Falls will go against Saranac Lake (Section VII, 9-1) in a Class C regional at 1 at AuSable Valley. Cambridge/Salem will battle Ticonderoga (Section VII, 7-3) in a Class D game at 1 at Schuylerville.