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Schools of Thought: Postseason pigskin predictions

October 19, 2009
By BILL CAIN, The Leader-Herald

Of the five local teams playing postseason football this coming weekend, even our best teams have juggernauts standing between them and a sectional championship.

However, Broadalbin-Perth gave everyone reason to believe any game is winnable when they beat Lansingburgh a week and a half ago when the Knights were ranked No. 1 in the state.

Let's get started with the rematch of that game. In Class B, the Patriots earned the No. 4 seed in the West and will make another trip to Lansingburgh, the No. 1 seed from the East.

Last time, the Patriots worked the clock and made their fourth-quarter possessions pay off with points.

B-P coach Rick Snyder said the week after that win he almost would rather play Lansingburgh again than Albany Academy, because Academy had so much more speed that would be hard to deal with.

He got his wish and it shouldn't be hard to get the Patriots up for this game, but it is going to be very difficult to beat this Lansingburgh team twice in three weeks. Imagine how pumped they are going to be for this game. More so than any other No. 1 who is playing a No. 4.

I will be surprised if the Patriots pull off the upset again, but I know they could come through and surprise me.

In Class A, Gloversville is easily the No. 2 team in the Northwest, probably No. 3 in the class overall behind Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake and Troy.

Being second to Burnt Hills is nothing to be ashamed of and definitely not a knock on any team. The Spartans are a perennial power in most sports, football especially.

That said, the Huskies aren't satisfied with second and the week after getting blown out by the Spartans, coach Tom Ciaccio said he still believed the Huskies were capable of playing with Burnt Hills. He said they didn't play their A-game and if they could execute on their end, they could compete in a rematch.

That rematch can only happen in the finals. To get there, the Huskies have to get past Bishop Maginn in Friday's opener, then Troy.

They'll beat Maginn. Coaches and players can't look past teams. The rest of us can.

They beat Maginn 51-6 in Week 2 this year. Look for more of the same as Gloversville won't take the Griffins as lightly as I do.

Against Troy, the Huskies will have to slow down the ground game of Shatiek Lewis and Jordan Canzeri, who have helped the Flying Horses amass over 2,300 rushing yards.

Ciaccio is big on run defense and considers it the key to success in the regular season, let alone the playoffs. It will take a great week of practice and flawless execution in the semis to set up a rematch with Burnt Hills.

By virtue of a tiebreaker, Fonda-Fultonville will play at home Saturday as the No. 2 seed from the Class C South, hosting North No. 3 Granville.

I think the home-field advantage will be the key for the Braves in a tight matchup. Granville is the No. 3 seed from the North because of a Week 7 loss to No. 2 Cambridge.

The only FFCS loss came at the hands of South No. 1 Chatham. Otherwise, the Braves have dominated with Seth Hidde ruling the air and Blake Hart doing everything asked of him on the ground. Either way, the offensive linemen are the unsung heroes of this team and will lead it at least to the semis, where it will take one of its best

games of the year to get past Hoosick Falls.

That's right, I'm saying South No. 4 Canajoharie probably will fall to Hoosick Falls this week. They are all kinds of banged up. At the top, quarterback Payton Stahler has recovered well enough from an ankle sprain to be effective in the pocket, but has been used very sparingly in the defensive secondary, where the Cougars have looked vulnerable at times because of injuries.

Even with their injuries, the Cougars will continue to fight. I saw center Brandon Smith play a couple series with an injured shoulder that became increasingly apparent in his last series on the field, just before the coaches realized how much pain he was in and pulled him from the game. He hid it well, but couldn't raise his left arm to put his helmet back on after a timeout, getting his teammates to help him put it on and snap the chinstrap.

I have no doubt the Cougars will give No. 1 Hoosick Falls a game, but it will take a lot for them to earn a semifinal berth.

Our Class D team in Section III - Dolgeville - already wet its playoff feet. The No. 4 seed in the Southeast, the Blue Devils showed they are far better than their seed, which was low because of a loss to No. 2 Utica-Notre Dame.

As good as they are, they have their biggest challenge this week since Walton knocked them from the state semis last year. No. 1 Westmoreland is a Class C team in a Class D uniform, coming into the year with an enrollment just low enough to play in Class D after winning the C sectional last year.

Westmoreland will be bigger and stronger, but what Dolgeville has on its side is that it has played bigger and stronger teams all season - and won most of the time.

Still, it will take a Patriotic effort resembling that of B-P's Week 6 win over Lansingburgh for them to advance this week.

Like I said, though, B-P showed us it's not just a clich.

Anyone can beat anyone, any given week.



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