BURNT HILLS — While Caeden LaPietro will eventually be following his brother Darien LaPietro to the University at Albany to play men's lacrosse, he is blazing his own trail on the football field.
Unlike his older sibling who excelled at quarterback for the last three seasons at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, junior Caeden LaPietro is running the ball as one of the Spartans' new offensive starters.
"It's been fun, and a little surprising," LaPietro said of his first two games. "It's been good. Better than I expected. I hope to keep that going."
The junior has rushed for eight touchdowns and just more than 400 yards in a pair of wins for the three-time defending Section II Class A champions. He's also starting at defensive safety, like he did a year ago.
"To make big plays, you've got to be able to run and make people miss," said Burnt Hills coach Matt Shell, who lost running backs Vincent Daviero and DJ Lashley to graduation. "We weren't sure where the big plays would come from."
LaPietro and fellow junior running back Diamonte Sanderson answered that question when Burnt Hills beat Gloversville 49-13 and Scotia-Glenville 55-12 to open the season. LaPietro's part included a 63-yard touchdown run against Gloversville and a 64-yard scoring dash against Scotia-Glenville; n his 64-yard score, he broke four tackles before before finding open territory. Meanwhile, Sanderson has a 75-yard touchdown run to his credit this year.
"Everyone knew we were losing a lot," said the 5-foot-11, 175-pound LaPietro. "We had to prove ourselves."
LaPietro ran nine times for 175 yards and three touchdowns in the Spartans opener, and ran 15 times for 227 yards and five touchdowns last week. Burnt Hills plays at South Glens Falls on Friday, looking to go 3-0 in the Class A Grasso Division.
"We have done pretty well," LaPietro said. "The first game wasn't quite what we wanted, but we got the win. Against Scotia, we came out faster and better."
LaPietro scored the first three touchdowns against Scotia-Glenville on runs of 2, 6 and 8 yards.
"He is a great lacrosse player, and that helps a lot with his shiftiness," Shell said. "He can make moves and finish off runs. That's the weightroom piece. He put on 20 pounds since last year.
"He is a well-rounded back. He catches the ball. He does a good job blocking."
LaPietro couldn't say enough good things about the guys blocking for him, such guys as center Justin Gray, guards Victor Little and Holden Comley, tackles Justis Warren and Nathaniel Deluke, and tight end Dillon Bohlke. Gray, Comley and Deluke, like Sanderson, are up from the junior varsity. Warren and Bohlke are the only seniors.
"They've been great," LaPietro said of the line group. "They're doing what they're asked to do."
LaPietro and rest of Burnt Hills' skill position players have certainly benefited from their work. That cast includes senior Matt Seidel, who has shifted this season from the line to fullback, and has scored a touchdown in both games.
"He [LaPietro] is as happy for his teammates for making good plays as he is himself. He's a great teammate," Shell said. "Ultimately, we all want to win games. He would trade stats for wins. It's not always that way."
LaPietro announced on Twitter a week ago his intention to play lacrosse at the University at Albany. Siena, Binghamton, Massachusetts and Delaware were also on the list of schools he considered.
"Ever since my brother committed to go there, I wanted to go there," LaPietro said of UAlbany. "There are a lot of things I like about it."
"You don't just go there. They pick you," Shell said. "Caeden plays lacrosse at a high level. He competes at a high level. It makes since that it translates to football."
As for the young man's favorite?
"It's always back and forth," LaPetro said. "Whatever season it is, that's my favorite sport."