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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 27, 2007

Dutchmen motto: You gotta have heart

By Tim Matteson


That is what made the difference for the Guilderland football team between staying unbeaten or losing its first game of the season.

Trailing at halftime, the Dutchmen overcame their deficit by playing their hearts out in the second half and beating Christian Brothers Academy, 21-14, in Colonie on Thursday night.

"We felt the adversity in the first half," said senior Paul Booker. "In the second half, we knew what we had to do.

"We played with heart," Booker added. "We talked about who wanted it at halftime. And, in the third quarter, we came out and got the win."

"This is a gutsy win," said Guilderland Coach Dan Penna. "I’m proud of how the team responded in the second half. There were no schematic adjustments. We talked to the kids about this being their season. They came out in the second half and played hard."

And, for the first time in a very long time, Guilderland is 4-0. For the second year in a row, the Dutch will be in the playoffs; this is the earliest Guilderland has ever clinched a spot.


"At halftime I felt terrible," said senior quarterback Drew Smith. "I felt like I failed the team. In the first half, I played terrible; I wasn’t playing like myself. I felt like I let down the team. I’m the leader of this team and the catalyst. I have to make things go, and I wasn’t doing that. But we were able to get it together and get the win."

The Dutchmen trailed, 14-7, at halftime with CBA getting the second-half kickoff.

Guilderland held CBA on its first two possessions of the third quarter, forcing punts both times.

After the second punt, Guilderland got the ball in good field position at the CBA 45-yard line.

After an incomplete pass by senior quarterback Drew Smith, Booker picked up five yards on a run.

On third down and five yards to go for a first down, Smith and Booker connected on a screen pass, a pass behind the line of scrimmage. Booker followed his blockers and picked up 25 yards to the first down and put the Dutchmen at the CBA 15-yard line.

"That is a play we put in this week," Booker said. "It’s a kind of play we’ll use more."

Smith then picked up seven yards on a run and Booker followed with a four-yard gain to put Guilderland on the CBA four-yard line.

Booker tied the game with a four-yard run for the Dutch. E.J. Genzano kicked the extra point and the score was 14-14 with 4:03 left in the third quarter.

The third quarter would end with the score tied and set up an interesting fourth and final frame.

Hard-fought victory

Guilderland had forced the Brothers to punt as the third stanza was near its end.

Two Booker runs set up a third and short, as the quarter came.

Jason Lawrence picked up the first down on a one-yard run that put the ball on the CBA 45-yard line.

Booker picked up five more yards on a run, and then Smith completed a pass to tight end Paul Malamood for a big gain.

The 25-yard pass play moved the ball to the CBA 15-yard line. Booker had a six-yard run and Smith picked up one yard on a run to put the ball on the eight-yard line.

Booker than ran off tackle for the final eight yards into the end zone, to give the Dutch the lead.

Genzano booted the extra point, and the score was 21-14 with 8:56 left in the game.

CBA got the ball back and went for it on fourth down but a pass was dropped by a wide-open receiver and the Dutchmen dodged a bullet.

Guilderland punted on its next possession and CBA moved the ball down the field.

On the second play of the drive, the Brothers got a big pass play. Junior quarterback Andrew Vivian pitched the ball to running back Jack Reilly who then threw the ball to Nico Neri for a 36-yard gain, putting the ball on the Guilderland 31-yard line.

Reilly picked up 11 yards on a run to move the ball to the 20 and give the Brothers a first down.

The Brothers lost five yards on first down as senior linebacker Pete Stanish made a big tackle on a run by Reilly.

Then after two incomplete passes with the clock ticking, CBA had a fourth and 15 from the Guilderland 25-yard line.

Vivian rolled out to pass and just overthrew a receiver in the middle of the field. But a flag was thrown and a Dutchmen defender was called for pass interference, the call drew the ire of the Guilderland fans.

The Brothers got the ball on the Dutchmen 13-yard line and had a new set of downs. Reilly picked up five yards on two runs, and then the third down pass fell incomplete.

Vivian then rolled out to pass again on fourth down and fired a ball over an open receiver in the back of the end zone and CBA turned the ball over on downs.

Guilderland ran out the clock and escaped CBA’s campus with a hard-fought, one-touchdown victory.

First-half scoring

Guilderland scored first in the contest. The Dutch took the opening kickoff and drove the ball down the field behind the running of Booker and Lawrence.

Booker scored his first of three touchdowns, this one from four yards out, to give the Dutchmen the early lead. Genzano kicked the extra point to make it 7-0 with 8:04 left in the opening quarter.

"It was a great drive," Penna said. "Sometimes we make it look too easy, when we drive the ball like that. But we let down in the second quarter. We had some holes and they got two receiving touchdowns."

CBA came right back on its first play from scrimmage. Vivian rolled out and completed a big pass to Neri that moved the ball from the Brothers’ own 32-yard line to the Guilderland 30-yard line.

CBA continued to take advantage of holes in the Guilderland pass coverage as Vivian completed a nice pass to Jafar Johnson for a 25-yard touchdown pass.

The Brothers took the lead on the first play of the second quarter. They moved the ball to the Guilderland four-yard line before Vivian connected with Justin Marini.

And, with the extra-point kick, CBA led 14-7 with 11:53 left in the second quarter.

"CBA gave us everything they have," Penna said. "They are a good football team and they proved it tonight. We punched first, but they came back with a counter-punch.

"We knew we were in for a good football game," Penna added. "They did a heck of a job; it is remarkable that they started 0-2. They are a much different football team. They’ve put it together."

"We are going to keep working"

The Dutchmen now face the heart of their schedule and will play some tough teams. They travel to Ballston Spa on Friday for a match-up with the 3-1 Scotties. After that, the Dutch host Saratoga for homecoming and then they close out the regular season with a game in Clifton Park against fellow unbeaten Shenendehowa.

The gutsy win last Thursday gives Guilderland at least one more game after the regular season.

"Getting to 4-0 and locking up a playoff spot so quick is huge," Booker said.

"This is the type of win that is good as we prepare for the playoffs," Penna said. "This is the first time we trailed at halftime. The kids dug deep to get this win. This is a great learning game for us."

"This is the first time in forever we started 4-0," Smith said. "I prayed every day. Before school, I pray for this team. Everybody has come together and this is the earliest we clinched a playoff spot"

"Guilderland still doesn’t get a lot of respect," Smith added. "They know we have athletes, but we want to show them that we’re more than that. Obviously, going 4-0 is a big step, but we want to go to the Section II Super Bowl. And we are not going to be happy until that happens. We are going to keep working."

Voorheesville holds off Red Raiders’ final charge

By Tim Matteson

VOORHEESVILLE — It came down to one play.

One is all that separated the Voorheesville football team from keeping intact its perfect season.

With less than a minute left in Saturday’s contest in Mechanicville, the hosting Red Raiders had just scored a touchdown to pull within two points, 15-13. Mechanicville then went for the two-point conversion to tie the game, but Voorheesville got a big play from an unlikely source.

Quarterback Jay Conde, who usually doesn’t play defense, intercepted the pass attempt and sealed the win for the Blackbirds.

Voorheesville is now 4-0 this season and sits atop the South Division in Class C.

"I haven’t played defense," Conde said of his play. "I don’t know how I made that play. I haven’t been in that situation."

"I made the call to put him out there," said Voorheesville Coach Joe Sapienza. "He is fast and athletic."

"A great defensive line"

Voorheesville struggled against one of its toughest rivals; Mechanicville entered the game with a 2-1 record. But the Blackbirds made plays when they needed to.

Voorheesville scored on its first possession of the game, but gave up a second-quarter touchdown to go into halftime tied, 7-7.

The Blackbirds scored with 11:09 left in the fourth quarter.

A great punt return by Jimmy Carroll to the Mechanicville 29-yard line gave the Birds excellent field position.

The Birds moved the ball, including an 11-yard completion from Conde to Chris Massaroni, to get to the Mechanicville four-yard line.

After a couple of run attempts by Pat Jones, Conde ran around the left end and dove into the end zone to give his team the lead.

The extra-point kick was blocked, but the Blackbirds led, 13-7.

Voorheesville forced a punt on Mechanicville’s next possession, and got the ball on its own 20-yard line.

On the first play of the possession, Conde threw a pin-point pass to Jordan Murphy, who made a nice over-the-shoulder catch.

The 71-yard pass and catch play put the Blackbirds on the Mechanicville nine-yard line.

The Birds got the ball to the three-yard line on a run by Jones and to the one-yard line on a run by Dan Whiteley. But the Blackbirds could not punch it in and turned over the ball on downs.

Then, like it has all season, Voorheesville’s defense stepped up.

On the next play, Mechanicville quarterback Paul McMillan rolled to his right but was still in the end zone. Voorheesville defensive tackle Dan Flynn tackled McMillan before he could get out of the end zone for a saftety.

The two points gave Voorheesville a 15-7 lead.

"We have a great defensive line," Conde said. "They really stepped up when we needed them with that safety. They work real hard. We were joking before the game, that we have the most safeties. I’m proud of the defensive line."

It was an eight-point lead, but it was not a comfortable eight-point lead.

After a Mechanicville interception at the Voorheesville 18-yard line, the Red Raiders put together an impressive drive. With just 23 seconds left in the game, McMillan capped the 12-play drive with a one-yard touchdown run.

Then the Red Raiders went for two points to try and tie the contest. But Conde intercepted McMillan’s pass and sealed the win for the Blackbirds.

Scoring first

The Blackbirds scored first in Saturday’s game. They held Mechanicville on its first possession and got the ball back and moved down the field.

Conde connected with Murphy on 23-yard pass for the touchdown. Lee Fenner kicked the extra point and the Birds led, 7-0.

Voorheesville held the lead until late in the second quarter.

McMillan scored on a six-yard run to cap another good Mechanicville drive. With the extra-point kick, the game was tied, 7-7, and remained that way until the fourth quarter.

The Blackbirds had one more opportunity to score just before halftime, but a field goal attempt by Fenner was blocked.

"Mechanicville is probably four or five plays away from being undefeated themselves," Sapienza said. "I like the kids they have. They worked and they played great. And that is what makes you better."

Jones rushed for 87 yards on 23 carries. Conde completed 10 out of 15 pass attempts for 161 yards and one touchdown and one interception.

Murphy made four catches for 114 yards and had a touchdown reception.

"We have to make adjustments on offense," Sapienza said. "We have too much talent not to be able to move the ball consistently. We’ll have to make a couple of adjustments."

"Test of character"

"They were ready for us," Conde said of Mechanicville. "We played our hearts out. This is the second team we’ve beaten on guts.

"These games are a test of character," Conde added. "We showed that we have a lot of character and we fight in games and are able to get the job done when something is not working."

The Blackbirds did play without one of their leaders and best players.

Adam Duncan injured his ankle during Mechanicville’s first possession of the game and sat out for the rest of the contest.

"Not having Adam makes a difference on both sides of the ball," Sapienza said. "And not just on the football part, but the leadership part of it. He is our defensive captain. He has also been Pat’s lead blocker for the past two years."

"When Adam Duncan went out," Conde said, "Dan Whiteley did a great job. He stepped up and really led the defense. And we got the job done in the trenches."

Conde was also happy that his offensive line helped him for most of the game.

"The line gave me a lot of time to pass," the quarterback said. "We were able to make plays. He played all right. We lost Adam Duncan in the first series, and to get the win, I’ll take it.

"A wins a win," Conde added. "We’re 4-0. We’ll continue to work and get ready for Chatham."

Big game ahead

The Blackbirds will host the Panthers for homecoming this Saturday. Chatham handed Voorheesville two of its three losses last year, including in last year’s Class C semifinals. Both games were in the small village in Columbia County.

Chatham is 3-1, with its one loss against Watervliet. Voorheesville beat Watervliet last week on a late field goal by Fenner.

"This was a tough game to have sandwiched between the two games," Sapienza said. "But Mechanicville is as good as anyone we play. They still have to play Chatham and Watervliet. They are capable of beating one of those two teams."

Sapienza said that his team will re-group and focus for the big game coming up on Saturday.

"We definitely did not have a great week of practice," Sapienza said. "We’ll get focused this week. That is a given. We have to play better."

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