SCHENECTADY — Back in the playoff round in which its debut season closed, the Tri-City Spartans are fueling themselves with the memory of that defeat.
While last season ended with a 9-7 road loss to Hudson Valley in the Empire Football League semifinals, this year’s top-seeded Spartans will host Plattsburgh 7 p.m. Saturday at Schenectady High School.
“Our goal to start the season was to go to the playoffs as the No. 1 overall seed and win the chip,” Tri-City head coach Darrin Earing Sr. said at Thursday’s practice at Mont Pleasant Middle School ahead of this weekend’s semifinal contest. “A lot of the motivation is from last season coming up short. Now, we are in the same situation. Last year, we lost by two points and the opportunity to go to the championship game, so a lot of guys still have the feeling of coming up short. The drive has been there a lot more this season to complete our unfinished business from last season.”
The 9-1 Spartans closed their regular season last weekend with a 37-14 win against Plattsburgh. The team’s only loss during the regular season was a 27-24 setback against Watertown, which is the No. 2 seed for the playoffs.
“We are a pretty good team and have a lot to play for,” Tri-City's Lawrence Elliott said. “We have to execute. The biggest thing for us is communication. We just have to make sure that we are all on the same page in our next game.”
If Tri-City wins against Plattsburgh, it will advance to play either Mohawk Valley or Watertown for the league championship.
“This definitely adds a lot more excitement,” Elliott, a running back, said. “During the regular season, we had the opportunity to see where everyone is and where our roster is, but it’s definitely good to have this playoff game.”
“We played Plattsburgh last week to close out the season, so we are feeling pretty positive about the game,” Earing Sr. said. “They are a tough team. Last time we played them, we opened it up in the fourth quarter, but it was a quality game. If we show up to play this next game, we should do fairly well.”
Staying focused and not getting overconfident, Tri-City’s Nakia Boozer Jr. said, are top concerns for the Spartans.
“We have to finish the way we started and if we do that we should be good to go,” Boozer said. “We came into the season being a target because everybody saw how we played last season. We are excited to play this game and everybody is ready to go.”