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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 26, 2006

Soccer sectionals set

By Tim Matteson

It’s late October so it must be sectional playoff time. The soccer pairing for boys and girls were released on Tuesday.

Four local teams will be involved in their respective classes.

The Guilderland boys’ team earned the Suburban Council sixth seed and will travel to Colonie to face Big 10 third-seed Christian Brothers Academy at 2 p.m. on Friday. The Suburban Council is traditionally stronger than the Big 10. Last year, Guilderland beat LaSalle Institute and, the year before that, Guilderland beat CBA in the first round of the playoffs.

Voorheesville is the number-five seed in Class B and will host Cohoes today at 2 p.m. With a win, the Blackbirds will play the winner of the Greenville and Johnstown game on Saturday. A semifinal match-up with Colonial Council rival Schalmont could be on the horizon for the Birds.

The Berne-Knox-Westerlo boys’ team will not participate in the sectionals this year. The Bulldogs won only two games this season.

The Guilderland girls’ team will host Albany at 3 p.m. on Friday. If the Lady Dutch win, they will travel to number-one seed Shenendehowa for a Halloween night match-up.

The Berne-Knox-Westerlo girls’ soccer team will hit the road for its Class CC first-round match. The Lady Bulldogs will be traveling to Washington County to take on Greenwich High School on Thursday at 3 p.m. With a win, the Lady Bulldogs will be on the road again to take on Hoosick Falls on Saturday.

The Voorheesville girls’ soccer team will not participate in the sectionals. The Blackbirds beat Lansingburgh in the season finale but it was their lone win of the year.

The championships for the boys will be held at Colonie High School and the girls’ championships will be held at Broadalbin-Perth High School.

Proud Dutchmen fight until end in playoff game

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — The Guilderland football players walked off the field with their heads hung low. But they quickly picked them up when they heard the claps and cheers of the home crowd.

The Dutchmen had just lost to Christian Brothers Academy, 13-8, in a Class AA quarterfinal playoff game on a cold, windy Friday night. But the crowd warmed it up a bit as they applauded their warriors after their first playoff game since 1999.

"In retrospect, they’ll be very proud," said Guilderland Coach Dan Penna. "I’m proud of the kids at the moment. We made mistakes that we can’t make in the playoffs. But I knew that we would play hard until the last whistle.

"We went into the playoffs, treating it as a new season," Penna said. "We wanted to go 3-0 and not think about what we accomplished. We have pride in what we did, but we did not want to settle for anything less than the best."

Guilderland struggled to get any offense going in the contest, but, as has been the case all season, its defense kept the team in the game.

The first quarter ended in a 0-0 tie, but CBA got on the board quickly in the second quarter.

Michael Chaires, who is a state champion wrestler and will wrestle at the University of Virginia next year, took a hand-off on a reverse and blew by the Guilderland defense for a 50-yard touchdown run. The extra-point kick was good, and the Brothers led, 7-0.

Guilderland punted on its next possession but got a break when CBA gave the ball back.

CBA quarterback Jim O’Brien went back to throw but Dutchmen Jarrell Gatterson knocked the ball from the quarterback. Drew Zanotta recovered the ball for the Dutchmen at the 24-yard line of CBA.

Four plays later, Guilderland scored on a pass from Greg Barcomb to Drew Smith. Barcomb placed a perfect pass over a CBA defender, right to Smith who eluded some defenders and dove into the end zone for the six points.

Kevin Forbes ran for the two-point conversion to give the Dutch a 8-7 lead with 8:09 left in the first half.

The score remained that way for the rest of the half. Forbes intercepted a pass late in the half to end a CBA drive.

Passing game

But Guilderland made a mistake in the beginning of the third quarter.

The Dutch fumbled the opening kick-off and it was recovered by CBA at the Guilderland 22-yard line.

CBA got a touchdown on a halfback option pass from Chaires to Luke Weaver, but a illegal block penalty nullified the score and CBA did not take advantage of the turnover.

Both teams traded punts, and the Dutch got the ball back late in the third quarter. But, on the first play from scrimmage, Weaver intercepted a pass and returned the ball to the Dutchmen’s 24-yard line.

It took the Brothers six plays to score and take the lead. O’Brien found Weaver in the end zone to complete a 14-yard touchdown pass.

The two-point conversion try failed and the score was 13-8 with 1:19 left in the third quarter.

Guilderland turned the ball over on downs on its next possession but got a big play from Parker Wolf when he intercepted a pass at his own 25-yard line.

But the game pretty much ended for the Dutch when Chaires picked off a pass and returned it to the 47-yard line.

Guilderland had one more chance but a pass for no gain and a sack by Joe Vellano, who will be on the football team at the University of Maryland next fall, ended any chance for the Dutchmen.

"Tonight we didn’t take care of the football," Penna said. "It was a hell of a defensive battle. I think our offense was on the field for all of three plays in the third quarter. I felt like we were able to hold down CBA for most of the game."

But Guilderland had trouble when CBA went to the air.

"We had a tough time containing their passing game," Penna said. "We held them for first down and second down; we just couldn’t adjust to what they were doing."

Penna said that the weather and the field conditions did not bother his team.

"They were able to execute and we misfired on too many plays," Penna said. "We had two or three turnovers and in the second half we didn’t play good offensive football."

"Hungrier than ever"

The Dutch will have one more game to wrap up the season. They will play a crossover game this Friday night at Shenendehowa High School.

The coaches and players at Guilderland were disappointed in Friday’s loss, but they are ready to finish up a great season and continue to build for the future.

"The theme of the kids in the program is that we are just getting started," Penna said. "We’ve relied on the leadership of several seniors this season. They led us down a path we’ve not gone down before. The juniors will be hungrier than ever to keep pushing forward"

"We are proud of the first seven games of the season," Penna added. "Our goal was to go 3-0 in the postseason. We didn’t care about what we accomplished. And we’ll take that same attitude into the last game."

Penna is proud of the way the Dutch played their first playoff game.

"I’m extremely proud of the kids," the coach said. "We played tough, physical football. We shut down CBA’s run game and at times shut down their passing game. We made costly mistakes and had a few turnovers.

"We have one game left," Penna added. "I expect to practice and play as hard as if it was a playoff game."

Jones flies, defense strong for Blackbirds

By Tim Matteson

VOORHEESVILLE — They call him Waterbug because he is short in stature but quick, like the character in the movie The Longest Yard.

But again, Pat Jones came up big for the Voorheesville football team.

Jones rushed for three touchdowns to counter another stellar defensive effort and lead the Blackbirds to a 23-7 win over Stillwater in the Class C quarterfinals on Saturday.

Stillwater was the number-one seed and Voorheesville was the number eight and final seed in a class that many proclaim as the deepest of all time. The Blackbirds will be making their second trip of the season to Chatham to take on their Class C South Division rivals. The Panthers won the first meeting, 27-21, in a hard-played but bizarre game.

"We want to go all the way," Jones said after the game Saturday. "We try our best and work hard every week. I had huge holes. The line did an awesome job. Without them, we would not be where we are today."

"In the second half, he hit the holes," Voorheesville Coach Joseph Sapienza said. "Sometimes he tries for the 97-yard run instead of picking up six or seven at a time. He hit the hole and hit it hard."

The other key for the Blackbirds was their usual hard-hitting stout defense. Voorheesville bottled up the rushing attack of Stillwater and its stud running back Matt Grayson.

Grayson’s longest run of the day ended in a fumble that was recovered by the Blackbirds. He finished with 81 yards on 18 carries but had a net average of zero yards on his first six carries.

Jones finished the contest with 172 yards rushing.

"We keyed on their tailback," Sapienza said. "I knew if we could take that away from Stillwater, we could beat them."

Defensive struggle

The game began as a defensive struggle as both teams scored zero points in the first quarter. The Voorheesville defense had a big stand in that frame.

A Blackbird fumble at Voorheesville’s own seven-yard line was recovered by Stillwater. But Voorheesville stopped the Warriors on four plays, including an eight-yard loss by Vinny Barber on a terrific tackle by Adam Duncan. The fourth down pass fell incomplete and the Blackbirds dodged a major bullet.

Then the Birds took advantage and moved the ball down the field using the running of Jones and the passing of Jay Conde. Voorheesville moved the ball down to the Stillwater three-yard line but a sack dropped them back 10 yards.

The Birds got points on the board on a 30-yard field goal by Cameron Taylor to take a 3-0 lead.

Voorheesville turned the ball over late in the second quarter after an interception by Grady Edwards.

The pick put the ball on the Voorheesville 49-yard line and the Warriors moved the ball.

On third down, Barber completed a pass to Henry Evans for about three yards, but a late hit penalty gave Stillwater 15 more yards, enough for a first down.

Voorheesville’s defense made two big plays — a 14-yard sack by Charlie McGrail and an incomplete pass — but Stillwater had one more chance.

As the final seconds of the half wound down, Barber found Edwards with a pass in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. With no time on the clock, Barber kicked the extra point and the score was 7-3 at the half.

"All the way"

Voorheesville got a big break early in the third quarter, a fumble on a hand-off on a reverse play.

Dan Flynn pounced on the ball for the Blackbirds at the Stillwater 27-yard line.

It took two plays for Conde to score his first touchdown of the day and give the Blackbirds the lead.

The two-point conversion pass failed but the Blackbirds led, 9-7, with 6:42 left in the third frame.

Stillwater turned the ball over on its next possession. Grayson was on his biggest run of the game — for 20 yards — when he got hit by linebacker Steven Cardinal and fumbled the ball. Duncan recovered the ball at his own 31-yard line.

Six plays later, Jones ran for another touchdown — this one for 20 yards — and Taylor added the extra point to make the score 16-7. The drive was kept alive with a diving catch by Chris Massaroni on third down.

Voorheesville scored again early in the fourth quarter on a 41-yard run by Jones. The extra-point was good and the Birds led, 23-7. They held on for the win even without Conde, who left the game after getting hit hard in the fourth quarter.

"I think he bruised his ribs," Sapienza said. "He took a good shot."

But it was the defense that kept Stillwater off guard all day long.

"Our defense had done it all year," Sapienza said. "They have put us in position to win every game. We settled down in the second half. Our offense has peaks and valleys."

The defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and made it difficult for the Warriors to get their vaunted running game going. Sapienza credited the play of Sam Pelham, Sean Fitzmaurice, Charlie McGrail, and Jeff Connors for dominating the Stillwater offensive line.

The Blackbirds overcame what could have been a devastating play at the end of the first half.

"We talked at halftime about executing well," Jones said.

"I think that could have been a deflating moment," Sapienza said. "Walking off the field, we were worried that would deflate us. All season long, we had tough moments. Even the games we lost, we had tough moments. But I’m not worried about this group of kids. I knew they would not stop playing."

While most eight seeds beating a number-one seed would be considered an upset, this Class C pool is very competitive. Voorheesville’s two losses have been by a touchdown to two of the teams that will play in the semifinals this weekend.

"We want to set a tone," Jones said. "I think people underestimated us as a number-eight seed. People didn’t think we were as good as we are.

"We want to go all the way," Jones added. "We’ll practice hard every day, all week long to get there."

Birds healed, ready for sectionals

By Tim Matteson

VOORHEESVILLE — The Blackbirds are healing and getting ready for the upcoming Class B Section II soccer playoffs.

However, an all-too-familiar foe could be waiting for them.

The Blackbirds wrapped up the regular season last Wednesday against Colonial Council champion Schalmont, 2-0, and could face the Sabers again in the semifinals if both teams win their early playoff games.

"It was a tough loss to take in our last regular season game," said Voorheesville Coach Mike Young. "But getting out of that game, I felt we did better than the last time we played them. I felt we played with them."

The loss dropped the Blackbirds’ record to 10-3-1 in the league and 13-3-1 overall.

The Blackbirds were given the number-five seed for the upcoming Class B tournament and will open with a home match against Cohoes on Thursday.

"Our league record is a big factor," Young said. "And Class B is very competitive. There are a few teams that are within a win or loss of each other in the top of Class B. It’s pretty much where we should be. When we won sectionals a couple of years ago, we were the number-four seed. We had to beat everybody we played."
A semifinal match with Schalmont could be on the horizon. Schalmont is number-one in Class B.

"We were hoping to get a sixth seed," Young said. "But some pending results in another league put us here. We were hoping to avoid them until the final," he said of Schalmont. "But first we have Cohoes. And we know they are tough. And then we have to play the winner of Greenville and Johnstown to even face Schalmont and they have a tough opponent as well.

"I would love to play them a third time," Young added. "We’re going to try and beat them, but we have tough games before we get to that."

The Blackbirds have most of their players back. They have two players that will be out for the rest of the season — Rob DiBlasi and Kevin Van De Wende — but the rest of the team will be ready for sectionals.

"All the other injured players are back," Young said. "We’re healthy and we should have a full squad and a better squad. The younger players have stepped up. They are stronger than some younger players in other seasons. We went 3-0 at the time we were missing all those players."

The Blackbirds beat Lansingburgh, Albany Academy, and Ichabod Crane, before most of the players returned for the final regular season game against Schalmont.

"There was not a weak opponent in that group," Young said. "We were pretty fortunate with the injuries to get by unscathed. The younger players got valuable experience."

The team has had a few days of training in practice and Young is impressed with the way the team looks at this point of the season.

"The team has looked the best it has all year," Young said. "The kids are really looking forward to sectionals. We have done some bonding outside of practice, going out to dinner and stuff like that. We are focused. And the younger players are more focused than they tend to be in other years. They are motivated and they have some experience. It means more to them because they have been a big part of the success. We are very confident and we are looking forward to having a good run in sectionals."

BKW, V’ville boys run to titles

By Tim Matteson

The Berne-Knox-Westerlo boys’ cross-country team pulled off an upset on Tuesday.

The Bulldog harriers beat Western Athletic Conference rival Fonda-Fultonville to win the league title.

Voorheesville also won the Colonial Council boys’ championship on Tuesday. The BKW girls’ team finished fourth and the Voorheesville girls finished third in their respective leagues.

The BKW boys finished with 51 points to best Fonda by 10 at the league meet at Fort Plain.

Jeremy McAllister of Fonda was the individual winner in 16:11.1. Jared Finke was the top BKW runner, coming in fourth with a time of 16:40.05.

David Haverly finished sixth overall for BKW in a time of 17:02.08.

BKW’s Ada Lauterbach was the girls’ meet individual winner. She ran 18:58.64 to best the field.

Macky Lloyd was second in the overall Colonial Council race but led Voorheesville with a time of 16:29. Zach Williams of Cobleskill-Richmondville won the race in 16:15.

Blackbird Nathan Bub was third in 17:16; Conor Cashan was fourth in 17:18; Ryan Allison was sixth in 17:22; and Ian Powell was eighth in 17:27 to aid in the win.

Chantal Little was the top runner for Voorheesville in the girls’ meet. She finished 10th overall with a time of 20:13.

Next up for the team is the Albany County Meet and then the Section II meet on Nov. 3 at Saratoga State Park.

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