The old saying goes, "To be the best, you've got to beat the best."
Now, the Broadalbin-Perth Patriots football team isn't about to skyrocket to the top of the state Class B rankings, but with a 23-20 road win Friday over top-ranked Lansingburgh, the Pats have to be feeling the best they've felt in some time.
The New York State Sportswriters Association had Lansingburgh ranked No. 1 in Class B and for good reason. The Lancers had just dropped down from Class A and were handling every Class B team they faced pretty easily.
Heading into Friday's game, Lansingburgh had averaged 45.2 points per game and allowed 17.4. The Lancers were fresh off a 42-32 win over No. 14 Albany Academy.
The key for the Patriots was game management.
Coach Rick Snyder said they timed their huddles to use as much of the clock as they could. After an incompletion or a play that ended out of bounds, they went about their business as usual. But if the clock was winding down, they milked it.
That's the name of the scheme they devised, actually.
When there were 15 seconds left on the game clock, assistant coach Greg Ille held up a green sheet of paper to signal for the Patriots to break their huddle.
They were getting their plays off with between three and five seconds on the play clock each time, Snyder was told by the officials.
The result: the Patriots ran over 50 plays, the Lancers 31.
That's good coaching, but the best coaching means nothing without execution.
Lansingburgh still could have converted each of their possessions to points, but the Patriot defense stopped their double-wing offense just often enough, holding them to around 160 yards.
That, combined with fewer touches for their playmakers, led to the Lancers scoring less than half their average against a team that was fighting to get back to .500.
The win doesn't make B-P the team to beat, it doesn't even do anything for their playoff seed.
What the win does for the Patriots, or what it should do, is give them a fresh start between the ears.
They're still 3-3 overall, 1-2 in the division, but they should be approaching this week's game with Schalmont and any subsequent playoff game as the team that beat Lansingburgh.
Snyder called it a great program win, and he was right.
Regardless of how the season shakes out for the Patriots, this group of kids will remember the 2009 season for this win over an outstanding Lansingburgh team, the day they walked onto the field unintimidated and played with poise against a team they were supposed to lose to, and lose to by at least a couple touchdowns.
That said, this big win for the program is by no means the end-all, be-all for this team.
For now, Schalmont is a bigger deal.
Schalmont is undefeated in the West division. A win sends the Pats into the postseason having beat the top team from each division in the last two weeks of the regular season.
"We're sitting at 3-3 after an absolute emotional victory. We have to communicate to our kids that we can't have a letdown," Snyder said. "It's a great program win, but we didn't get any blue ribbon from it."