SCHENECTADY — Holy Trinity football's bid for the Section II Class B Reinfurt Division title is delayed for a couple of weeks with non-league games on its slate Saturday at Cambridge/Salem and home the following week against Albany.
But Cambridge/Salem should provide the biggest hurdle in Holy Trinity's quest for a perfect regular season. Class C Cambridge/Salem, like Holy Trinity, is off to a 4-0 start.
"Each week we've been saying, 'Statement game,'" Holy Trinity coach John Barber said before Wednesday's practice. "It's another week. It's Cambridge. They are Class C, but still the same size as we are. They are No. 5 in the state. They are sound in everything they do, and we have to respect that. We have to be sound and disciplined in what we do."
Cambridge/Salem put the only dent in Holy Trinity's regular-season record last year with a 35-17 win in Week 2. Cambridge/Salem later won the year's Section II Class C championship.
"It's not really revenge," Holy Trinity senior Tanner Kiser said. "They put a sour taste in us, and we're going to try to beat them. No one wants to lose."
Holy Trinity has yet to do so as a new member of Section II's Class B group, showing victories over Hudson (42-7), Cobleskill-Richmondville (55-24), Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk (49-13) and Ichabod Crane (63-7). The Pride has compiled over 1,000 passing and rushing yards in those games, and has a plus-14 turnover margin.
"It's been really fun this year," said Kiser, a versatile player who has seen action at cornerback and linebacker on defense, and at tight end, slot, wide receiver and running back on offense. "We can run this year. We can pass this year."
Cambridge/Salem bottled up Holy Trinity's prolific offense in last year's game.
"We didn't have a full line and the running backs last year," Barber said.
Rodney Parker has been a spark at running back after seeing mostly defensive action last year, and Holy Trinity's line is an improved one.
Holy Trinity vs. Cambridge/Salem is one of several high-quality Section II non-classification games in Week 5. Off its big win against Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Class A’s Ballston Spa plays reigning Class AA area champion Shaker; Class B contender Cobleskill-Richmondville will take on La Salle Institute, a likely Class A playoff team; and, Class C contender Stillwater and reigning Class D area champion Warrensburg meet in battle of unbeaten squads.
Cambridge/Salem has been a stingy defensive team in its wins against Greenwich (26-14), Lake George/Hadley-Luzerne (45-19), Hoosic Valley (41-7) and Hoosick Falls (55-12), and has used the run game as a chief offensive weapon.
"Our main priority is stopping their run game," Kiser said. "Our secondary is great. If we can stop their run game, we can stop everything."
Holy Trinity has climbed to No. 7 in the state Class B rankings.
"It's a big statement game," Kiser said. "It's a big statement season."
Besides Holy Trinity’s trip to play Cambridge/Salem, here are four more key Week 5 games.
SHENENDEHOWA AT GUILDERLAND
At the moment, this 7 p.m. Friday matchup projects as a preview of a Section II Class AA semifinal. While both of these 3-1 teams still have work to do to make that happen, the winner of this game will control its own path toward a home game in the semifinals.
SARATOGA SPRINGS AT CBA
If the Blue Streaks are going to turn around their season and make a run at qualifying for the postseason, they likely need a win in this 7 p.m. Friday matchup. Saratoga Springs is 1-2 in Section II Class AA play and 1-3 overall, while CBA is 2-1 in league play and 3-1 overall after suffering its first loss of the season last week against Bethlehem.
TROY AT AVERILL PARK
The top teams in the Section II Class A Capital Division meet in a 7 p.m. Friday showdown. The winner of this game controls its path toward the division’s No. 1 seed, which is extra important to secure since one of the teams in the top-heavy Grasso Division — Ballston Spa, Burnt Hills and Queensbury — will end up on the road against the Capital Division’s No. 2 seed in the postseason’s quarterfinals.
WATERVLIET AT VOORHEESVILLE
There is plenty of season to go, but this Section II Class C South Division matchup will likely decide the division winner. Heading into this 1 p.m. Saturday contest, Voorheesville has outscored its last three opponents 139-19 since losing in Week 1 to Stillwater, while Watervliet is coming off a 41-30 loss to undefeated Fonda-Fultonville.