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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 21, 2007

Blackbirds fly on to college gridiron

By Tim Matteson

VOORHEESVILLE —Small school, big-time players.

The Voorheesville football team has had a long line of success at the high school level. Under the tutelage of Joe Sapienza, and before that Thomas Buckley, the Blakbirds have brougt a lot of tradition to the small school that sits just outside the village of Voorheesville.

The Blackbirds play in Class C, the second smallest division in the state. Yet, eight players from the last three graduating classes at Voorheesville will be on college football rosters this fall, including four from this year’s team that finished with a 6-3 record.

Tim Robinson will be moving on to St. Lawrence University in northern New York; Charlie McGrail will play football at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio; Steve Cardinal will play at Iona College in Westchester County; and Sam Pelham will play at the State University of New York College at Morrisville.

Iona is a Division I-AA school the rest are Division III programs.

"For the size of our school, I’m proud of the number of kids that contribute at the next level," Coach Sapienza said.

The four graduating seniors will join college sophomores-to-be P.J. Hognestad, Nick Duncan, and Andy Catellier and junior-to-be Corey Glath as college football players.

Catellier plays at Union College; Duncan at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Hognestad is at the University of Rochester; and Glath is at St. John Fisher College in the Rochester suburb of Pittsford.

"I’m pretty proud of that," Sapienza said.

There are a few factors for the success of the football program and Voorheesville kids being recruited for colleges.

"I think one of the many things," Sapienza said, "is that the kids develop a passion for it. And they understand what it takes to play at the next level. They want to keep their career going.

"It’s impressive because all of these kids are a combination of scholars and athletes," Sapienza added. They are going to great football and academic institutions. And they all did it the right way and are doing it the right way."

Sapienza also said that academics play a part in helping his players getting recruited.

"Our school district has a strong academic reputation," the coach said. "And we also put successful teams on the field. As far as the kids are concerned, I talk to them a lot about the importance of being a role model. They remember what the older kids did and they want to follow in their footsteps as well."

Four dutchmen of Guilderland ride on

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — The Guilderland football team has made vast improvements in the past couple of years. And nothing shows that more than this: Four Dutchmen will take their talents to the collegiate level.

Kyle Hussey, Greg Barcomb, Jarrell Gatterson, and Kevin Forbes will be representing Guilderland on college gridirons all over the state of New York — from Albany to Geneva.

Hussey will be playing for Bob Ford at the University at Albany’s Division I-AA program. Barcomb, Gatterson, and Forbes will compete at Division III colleges. Barcomb at the State University of New York College at Cortland, Gatterson at the SUNY Brockport, and Forbes at Hobart College.

"It’s exciting," Hussey said. "To think back, we had so much fun. After this past season was over, I didn’t want to hang up my shoulder pads yet."

"We are getting ready for the college," Barcomb said. "They sent me workouts and plans. Coach [Dan] Penna and the way he coaches us with double sessions and stuff helps make a big step, not so much of a big step. I think when I get to the next level, I can be competitive."

"I’m looking forward to it," Gatterson said. "It’s going to definitely be different than high school. But I’m ready to go."

"It will kind of be weird to play with a different group of kids that I have not played ball with before," Forbes said. "I’ve played with these kids for a long time. It will be weird not to have Jarrell at strong [safety] and Kyle on the line and Greg handing off to me."

The quartet’s statistics at Guilderland certainly show that they deserved to be recruited and have a chance to play college football.

Hussey played on both sides of the line — tackle on offense and end on defense — and was a three-year starter. On defense, he made 19 solo tackles and had 54 assists and six sacks. He also deflected three passes and had one forced fumble, that’s with the offense running away from him. He also blocked a punt in the Section II Senior All-Star game and was named to the section’s Class AA first team at defensive end.

"Kyle has been our best lineman for the past three years," Coach Penna said. "With his combination of size and quickness, he is best suited to play as a down lineman. He has also been an exceptional wrestler throughout high school. Coach Ford and the Albany staff showed serious interest in Kyle from the start; once he met them and visited the campus, he felt it was a perfect fit. Although a number of DIII and DI-AA schools showed interest, he committed before they had a chance to recruit him."

Barcomb is a 6 foot, 3 inch, 185 pound quarterback. He completed 31 of 82 passes and threw for 498 yards and two touchdowns in a run-oriented offense.

"Greg returned from an injury during his 11th-grade season," Penna said. "He trained hard through the off-season to earn his spot as a starter. Greg worked to perfect the ‘little things’ in his play — fakes, handoffs, body position, etc. — to execute our run-based offense efficiently. He has the characteristics of a traditional drop back passer — good pocket presence, size, vision, and arm strength —which Cortland is looking to utilize."

Gatterson played strong safety at 6 foot, 1 inch and 190 pounds. He was the Dutch’s second leading tackler with 27 solo stops and 66 assists. He also had one interception, one sack, and one forced fumble as he brought physical play to the table every week during the season.

"After having missed his entire 11th-grade season due to injury," Penna said, "Jarrell came back as a senior with a tremendous will to earn a spot and help out the team. He is a tremendous hitter who helped anchor our secondary run support. He has the physical tools to excel at the collegiate level. He may compete on Brockport’s track-and-field team as well. He was also recruited by Marist and Cortland State."

Forbes played halfback and free safety his senior year. He was a three-year starter on defense and was a tremendous hitter and good cover guy for the Dutchmen. Forbes made 24 solo tackles and 37 assists, and had one interception, two pass deflections, and one blocked punt.

On offense, Forbes led a balanced running attack with 446 yards rushing and averaged five yards per carry. He played in the Section II Senior All-star game and was a Class AA first-team selection at safety.

"Kevin Forbes is a great kid with a tremendous work ethic," Penna said. "He is a steady leader who was committed to our program. If he brings the same attitude to college, he will thrive on the D-III field. His run support and coverage ability will enable him to make an immediate impact. He may need to put on some weight to endure at the college level. Also a top recruit at Union and RPI, Kevin chose Hobart because he felt the academic programs were better for him"

The four players are looking forward to facing some tougher competition.

"We deal with less adept football players on a high school team," Hussey said. "In college, we’ll see some people with ability. For me, I want to play the best competition. It raises the level of my ability."

"Kyle is like a man against boys," Barcomb said. "It’ll be good to see him against kids his own size."

Football dreams

"Ever since I started playing, everybody dreams of going to the NFL," Barcomb said. "You steadily realize that’s not going to happen, when you line up with other kids. I just sent tapes out and hoped somebody was interested."

"You come into football with goals every year," Hussey added. "You have short-term goals for the season and when high school starts, your goal is to play at the next level. It worked out that it happened that way."

"You can see it in your sophomore and junior year," Forbes said. "For me it was March of junior year. You know that you can play, you just have to figure out where you can play. Your options are opened up and you go to different schools."

Some of the players had different options but a love of football brought them back to the game.

"I actually didn’t think I would be able to play football in college," said Gatterson who missed his junior year due to a leg injury. "I missed it my junior year, but I was going to fall back on track. I missed the hitting aspect of it and I’m glad Brockport looked at me."

Gatterson will also participate in track at Brockport. He was a triple and long jumper for the Dutchmen.

Barcomb was a standout for the Guilderland baseball team this past spring. His relief pitching helped the Dutchmen win the Section II championship.

His focus was always on football even though he didn’t see a lot of playing time until late in his junior season.

"I went to Ithaca on an overnight trip," Barcomb said of Ithaca College. "But then the Cortland coach had been to our school and he called and I thought I would go out of courtesy. I saw their stadium and they had my name on the Jumbotron and had my jersey in a locker. It flipped the script. I liked the way the offensive coordinator and coach talked to me. It was also the best chance for me to start."

"We have our choice of colleges," Hussey said. "You go to the different ones and then one just clicks."

"Location was big for me," Forbes said of choosing Hobart. "They’ve got a lake there. That was big for me."

But it wasn’t an easy choice for Forbes.

"During recruiting, you flip-flop so much," he said. "Hobart interested me my junior year, and then Albany looked pretty good and they were on top of my list at one point. Then I went to on a recruiting trip to Union and I liked it there a lot and that was my top choice. Hobart was always second until I went there. It moved up to number-one; I liked it a lot. During recruiting, you hear a lot of stuff from coaches. At Hobart, they seemed the most sincere ones."

Football future

The road seems mapped out for the Guilderland quartet. They are confident travelers as they approach the next landmark of their lives.

Unlike a lot of college students-to-be, they have their plans set, on the football field and off.

Barcomb will be a quarterback for the Red Dragons of Cortland, Forbes will be a free safety and kick returner for Statesmen of Hobart, Gatterson will be a safety and play on special teams for the Golden Eagles of Brockport, and Hussey will be a defensive end for the Great Danes of Albany.

Each member of the foursome, also knows what he wants to study while in college. Barcomb will major in sports management, Forbes will major in education, Gatterson will major in physical education, and Hussey will study a pre-med curriculum.

"We’ve never had a class that has had this many kids go on to play in college," Penna said. "And they all are committed to it. We are very excited for those four guys. They have a lot of potential to play a lot in college and be great ambassadors for Guilderland football."

With their success, the Guilderland football program has success for the future, not just on the high school gridiron, but also the college field.

"We have a core of juniors that are going to be seniors that have a number of colleges looking at them," Penna said. "We knew colleges were interested in them. Coaches would be looking at tapes of other guys and would say, ‘You have some players that can play.’"

That is a legacy that these four players hope they have left at Guilderland High School.

"We were good in athletics and school and we liked to have fun," Hussey said. "We were always lifting together and we got our stuff done. We worked hard and played harder."

Move to coach Albany boys a slam dunk for McClement

By Tim Matteson

VOORHEESVILLE — John McClement is a man on the move.

He’s given up coaching girls at Voorheesville to coach boys in Albany.

Two weeks ago, McClement was approved by the Albany City School District to be the Albany High School boys’ varsity basketball coach. McClement resigned from leading the Voorheesville girls’ basketball program he has guided since the 1999-2000 season.

"It was an opportunity to try my hand at something different. It’s a higher level," McClement said of the Class AA school. "And coaching boys, I saw it as a challenge and a very different situation.

"With all the kids I worked with at Voorheesville, we had success," McClement added. "This is a challenge I’m ready to accept at this time in my coaching career."

He has been a physical-education teacher in the Albany school’s since 1989. He has also coached football at Albany.

McClement was not surprised he had the support of the school board.

"I began the process in May and they interviewed all the candidates," he said. "Recently, I was board approved. It’s not shocking. I was really confident with my experience and I felt like I had a good interview. They were nice people and they thought enough of me to offer me the job."

McClement became the varsity girls’ coach at Voorheesville before the 1999-2000 season. Previously, he had coached the junior-varsity girls’ team at Albany High School and was an assistant for the varsity squad.

But he does have experience coaching male athletes, having coached all levels of football at Albany, from freshmen to varsity.

McClement has also taught at many of the different elementary schools in the Albany district and at Hackett Middle School. He is currently teaching at the Thomas O’Brien magnet school.

McClement will continue to be an assistant football coach at Voorheesville. He coached the junior varsity in 2000 and 2001 and has been Joe Sapienza’s assistant since the fall of 2002.

"I am really happy for him," Sapienza said. "It’s a great opportunity. Everyone at Voorheesville wishes him a lot of luck."

"Basketball is basketball"

McClement doesn’t see much difference between coaching girls’ basketball and boys’ basketball.

"I think basketball is basketball," he said. "Girls have a different type of athleticism. One of the changes from my time at Voorheesville is I didn’t have one player that could dunk. That’s a possibility on the boys’ side of things. But for the most part, basketball remains the same. You have to emphasize teamwork and hard play to be successful."

McClement will have to do some rebuilding of the Albany program. But the Falcons did play in the Section II title game two seasons ago. This past season, Albany won just a pair of games.

McClement walked into a highly successful program at Voorheesville in 1999.

"They were one year removed from the state championship," he said. "With Jack [Adams] they had a five-year run of sectional titles. They had three state championship appearances and won the title in ’98.

"The expectations were high coming in," McClement added. "I saw it as an opportunity to come to a program where the kids are going to be successful. It was a lot of fun."

"I haven’t looked at it record-wise," Sapienza said. "But the number of championships he won stacks up with the best in this section. It’s a good opportunity. I think he was looking for a change."

"Albany is an intriguing job because they have high expectations," he added. "They expect a lot. The situations are not exactly the same in terms of where the program is. But the expectations haven’t changed."

McClement said that there is a lot that he will miss at Voorheesville. He will miss the relationships he developed over time, but he accomplished much — including a state title in 2002 — and is looking for a different challenge.

"I think back to the players," McClement said, "And we absolutely had so much success on and off the court. The relationship with the players is what matters no matter what happens on the court. We spent a lot of time together. I got to see kids develop as incoming freshmen and then graduate and go on to college. It was fun on a lot of fronts. That’s one of the things that I will miss most."

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