STILLWATER — Early in the season, Stillwater head coach Ian Godfrey referred to Cambridge/Salem as “the mountain” he knew his program would need to get past to win its first-ever Section II championship.
Stillwater achieved that last week, defeating one of the area’s most-accomplished programs with a 21-0 win at Lansingburgh High School. Two years after making its first-ever appearance in an area Super Bowl, Stillwater finally claimed its first title.
Then, a couple days later, the Warriors had to turn their attention to another opponent.
“That’s the challenge that we’ve been facing,” Godfrey said. “We put so much into that moment, into winning sectionals — but I think right now everyone is focusing on keeping it going.”
“We gave ourselves a day to ice up and just be thankful for moving on,” Stillwater junior Rhett Mercier said. “Now, we’re back to work. . . . In practice, we looked normal. We feel pretty confident and that we’ve polished up our mistakes. I think we’re ready.”
After recording the biggest win in program history, Stillwater (10-0) plays Gouverneur (Section X, 9-0) Friday night at 7 p.m. at Mohonasen High School in the Class C state quarterfinals. In preparing for that one, Stillwater tried to stay true to the mentality it brought every week during the Section II portion of its season.
“We’ve just gone out there and practiced as hard as we can,” Stillwater senior Max Hems said.
At least one Section II program has won a state tournament championship in each of the last three years. Among this year’s five Section II champions, only Queensbury has previously won a state championship.
Along with Stillwater, Shenendehowa and Schuylerville will represent Section II in state action Friday night. In a Class AA quarterfinal at 7 at Shaker, Shenendehowa (9-1) will play Pine Bush (Section IX, 8-2), while Schuylerville (9-1) will play against Potsdam (Section X, 7-2) in a 7 p.m. Class B quarterfinal at Ogdensburg Free Academy.
On Saturday, Warrensburg (9-1) will play Moriah (Section VII, 6-3) at Glens Falls at 1 p.m. in a Class D quarterfinal, and Queensbury (10-0) will play the state’s top-ranked Class A team in Cornwall (Section IX, 9-0) at 3 p.m. at Shenendehowa.
While Stillwater and Queensbury are undefeated, Schuylerville and Shenendehowa each bring an eight-game winning streak into the state playoffs.
"We just keep coming out, and playing our game on offense and defense," Shenendehowa quarterback Brody Vincenzi said after last week’s win against Guilderland. "We're clicking on all cylinders."
Warrensburg has won its last five games.