Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake football coach Matt Shell remembers the conversation he had with Jake Stanko early in the running back's junior season.
That chat was quick and to the point, like Shell wanted Stanko to be.
"He wanted to try to make every run a big run," Shell said. "I told him, 'Put your foot in the ground, square your pads and hit the hole, and the big runs will take care of themselves."
Stanko ended up having a superb junior season and followed up with another this fall, rushing for 1,373 yards and 19 touchdowns, including the game-winner in the Section II Class A Super Bowl.
Friday, he was named an all-state first-team running back by the New York State Sportswriters Association. Stanko was previously named to the Daily Gazette All-Area first team offense, and was tabbed the Section II Class A Player of the Year.
"He's a heck of a player," said Shell, who saw his star back rush for over 100 yards eight times this past season. "Tough, good speed, good vision. He could turn an average play into a big play because of his ability."
For much of his junior season and throughout his senior campaign, Stanko got the ball and attacked defenses with vigor as a key cog in the Spartans offense. He scored 40 touchdowns during that stretch, averaged 124 rushing yards per game, and helped his team go 20-3 with a pair of Section II titles.
Stanko's 2-yard touchdown run in the final seconds lifted Burnt Hills to a 27-20 Section II title-game win over Queensbury, and the senior scored at least once in every game last fall.
Stanko has accepted an invitation to walk on at the University at Albany, and could earn a scholarship in the future.
"If he does what he is asked to do, he'll have a nice career there," Shell said. "I can see him going there and doing well."
The Class A second-team group includes Burnt Hills linebacker Jonathan Shaw and all-purpose player Jeremy Clayton, and Averill Park offensive guard Jerry Marsceill and defensive tackle Gavin Ryan.
Troy running back Joey Ward was selected the Class AA co-Player of the Year after rushing for 1,992 yards and 31 touchdowns. Class AA first-team nods went to Troy all-purpose player Dev Holmes and Troy safety Joe Casale. The trio helped the Flying Horses win back-to-back state titles with a 26-0 record.
Holmes caught 10 touchdown passes, ran for 10 TDs, and had a combined 1,279 receiving and rushing yards. Casale made 82 tackles, and with his 5 interceptons boosted his career total to 20. Casale also quarterbacked Troy and threw 21 touchdown passes.
Kevin Toote of Section II runner-up Saratoga Springs earned all-state Class AA second-team honors for his defensive play at tackle and end.
Co-Player of the Year
Joey Ward, Troy, 12, 5-9, 195, RB
Dev Holmes, Troy, 12, 5-9, 174, AP (first team); Cameron Scoons, Bethlehem, 12, 5-11, 175, PK (fourth); Wes Eglintine, Saratoga Springs, 12, 6-3, 203, QB (sixth); Jared Schwartz, Guilderland, 12, 5-11, 165, OE (sixth); Tafari Nedrick, Troy, 12, 6-3, 233, OL (sixth); Tyler Vanderwood, Troy, 12, 5-11, 195, OL (sixth).
Joe Casale, Troy, 12, 6-3, 187, DB (first); Kevin Toote, Saratoga Springs, 12, 6-3, 280, DL (second); Matt Ashley, Troy, 12, 5-8, 188, LB (third); Derrick Cipriani, Troy, 12, 6-1, 189, LB (third); Brian Tucker, CBA, 12, 6-0, 215, LB (third); Nick Krause, Shenendehowa, 12, 6-0, 230, DL (fourth); Mike Raimo, CBA, 12, 6-1, 247, DL (fourth); Aiden Feurer, Shaker, 12, 6-3, 195, DL (sixth); Isaiah Burdette, Troy, 12, 6-2, 174, DB (sixth).
Ravion Burt, Shaker, 11, RB; James Altenburger, Shenendehowa, 11, OE; Carter Steingraber, Saratoga Springs, 11, OE; Brandon Camaj, Saratoga Springs, 11, L; Kneico Gonzalez, Troy, 12, L; Rob Johnson, Colonie, 12, L; Jasier McLean, Troy, 12, L; Mohab Omer, Shaker, 12, L; Kevin Renaud, CBA, 12, L; Andy Weyrauch, Shenendehowa, 11, L; Cam Adams, Saratoga Springs, 12, LB; Chase Irish, CBA, 12, LB; Dylan Gotay, CBA, 12, DB; Avery Mickle, Saratoga Springs, 12, DB; Frank Spatafora, Saratoga Springs, 12, DB; Akap Takor, Shaker, 12, DB; Joe Park, Guilderland, 12, AP.
Jake Stanko, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 12, 6-1, 170, RB (first); Jerry Marsceill, Averill Park, 12, 6-4, 270, OL (second); Jeremy Clayton, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 12, 6-1, 200, AP (second); K.J. Mickel, South Glens Falls, 12, 5-10, 175, AP (third); Joe Petroski, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 12, 6-5, 245, OL (fourth); J.D. Aspland, Queensbury, 11, 5-8, 2-10, OL (fifth).
Gavin Ryan, Averill Park, 12, 6-0, 295, DL (second); Jonathan Shaw, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 12, 5-10, 165, LB (second); Brendan Scott, Queensbury, 11, 5-0, 165, DB (third); Dom Nassivera, Queensbury, 12, 5-9, 185, DL (fourth); Patrick Conway, Queensbury, 12, 5-7, 160, DB (fourth); Kyle Nethercott, Averill Park, 11, 5-10, 185, LB (fifth); Mike LeVan, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 12, 60, 160, DB (fifth).
Connor Bovair, South Glens Falls, 10, QB; Darien LaPietro, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 11, QB; Vincent Daviero, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 11, RB; Louis Fedullo, Amsterdam, 12, OE; Dylan Schrammel, South Glens Falls, 11, OE; Mike Siano, Queensbury, 12, L; Matt Miller, Mohonasen, 12, P.