For most area football teams, it all comes down to this week as the playoff start for four of the five classes in Section II.
Class D only has a four-team bracket and those teams, which includes Canajoharie, will play their last regular season games this weekend with the playoffs scheduled to start next week.
But for everyone else, the playoffs begin tonight as the Gloversville Huskies will visit Troy, the unbeaten winner of the Class A Southeast Division, while the Northwest's second-seed Amsterdam will play host to Averill Park for the second time this season.
In Class B, the Broadalbin-Perth Patriots, the third seed in the West division will take the long drive to Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk, the second seed out of the Reinfurt division.
The Class C Fonda-Fultonville Braves earned the second seed in the Class C South and will host the North's third-place team, Tamarac, on Saturday at John G. Boshart Field.
Over in Section III, the Dolgeville Blue Devils earned the eighth seed and will play on the road tonight at unbeaten Sandy Creek.
Northwest No. 4 Gloversville
(2-5 overall, 1-4 Class A Northwest)
at Southeast No. 1 Troy
(5-2 overall, 4-0 Class A Southeast)
Today, 7 p.m.
The Gloversville Huskies won their sole league game of the season two weeks ago, when they defeated the South Glens Falls Bulldogs, setting up last week's game against Queensbury to determine third place.
The Spartans won that one, sending the Huskies to Troy to face the first-place Flying Horses.
"They're a very good football team," Gloversville coach Jared Bongo said. "They're going to line up and play mano a mano and run the ball on us. They're athletic, big and strong. It's going to be a tough test for us. If we do the things we're supposed to do, I like our chances."
The Flying Horses, unbeaten against Class A opponents this season, have lost only to Class AA Schenectady and LaSalle this season. Its first win of the season was a 17-7 victory over Class A Northwest champion, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake.
Troy's offense is led by Rayshawn Johnson's six touchdowns.
To prepare, the Huskies have been fine tuning their offensive and defensive execution.
"I'm a firm believer in we have to execute what we have in," Bongo said. "The stuff we have in is very good and we just have to execute it. When we don't execute, that's when we have problems."
With the regular season behind them, Bongo and his staff have been stressing that the playoffs are a new opportunity for the team. The winner will face the winner of Friday's game between Averill Park and Amsterdam at the home of the highest remaining seed.
"This week, [intensity] had to pick up," he said. "We've been stressing that it's not every year we get to be in the playoffs. We have to take full advantage of that. Right now, we're 0-0 and you play until you stop and we have that opportunity right now."
Southeast No. 3 Averill Park
(3-4 overall, 2-2 Class A Southeast)
at Southeast No. 1 Troy
(4-3 overall, 3-1 Class A Northwest)
Today, 7 p.m.
The last time Averill Park came to Lynch Literacy Academy, things didn't go well for the Rugged Rams, who lost, 30-24, late in the fourth quarter.
This time, more will be on the line as the winner will get a berth in the Section II Class A semifinals next week. There have been some changes for the Warriors as they have been running their offense with a new quarterback, Taylor Hotaling, who the Warriors also will roll out of the pocket in an attempt to run the ball. Hotaling leads the Warriors with nine touchdowns and five two-point conversions. Right behind him is fullback Nick Valenti, who has scored four touchdowns this season.
"We have to stop that fullback," Amsterdam coach Doug Edick said. "I know it's a new quarterback and they're going to run the ball with the quarterback. We have to be able to stop that."
The Rams also have seen some changes since the Week 1 meeting. Quarterback Geo Rodriguez and running back Brett Stanavich remain constant playmakers, but Hector Diaz has been getting more carries to supplement Stanavich's production.
Edick said the Rams left some points on the board during the first meeting between the two teams and some dropped passes cost the Rams points.
Overall, the Rams need some consistency.
"At times we look real good, other times we do not," Edick said.
However, he said both the defense and offense have gradually been getting better and the Rams are more consistently getting the ball into the hands of their playmakers. Rodriguez's passing game also has improved.
"We want to build on last week and Burnt Hills and keep getting better and better," Edick said. "We have something to build on and I hope we continue to build on these things throughout the playoffs."
The winner will play the winner of Friday's game between Gloversville and Troy.
West No. 3 Broadalbin-Perth
(5-2 overall, 4-2 Class B West)
at Reinfurt No. 2 Ravena
(6-1 overall, 5-1 Class B Reinfurt)
Today, 7 p.m.
After struggling against the top two teams in their division, the Broadalbin-Patriots have won their last two games in convincing fashion and will travel to one of their biggest challenges of the season when they play the Reinfurt Division's second seed, the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Indians.
"As always, they're well-coached and very well-disciplined, which has been their staple forever," Broadalbin-Perth coach Jim Pelneau said. "They try to wear you down running the ball. They have a big physical line and their defense is extremely strong. They present a good challenge for us."
The Indians were dropped to the second seed two weeks ago, when they lost 26-21 to division winner, Lansingburgh, the same night the Patriots clinched the third seed in the west with their win over Schuylerville.
The Indians are coming off a 54-0 win over Green Tech, while Broadalbin-Perth finished its regular season with a 34-7 win over Cobleskill-Richmondville and comes into the game after winning two straight.
"They're confident," Pelneau said of his players. "We know we have a big challenge. At some point, you're going to have to go through Ravena in sectionals. We knew that going into it. We're confident."
The Patriots will need to find a way to stop running back Dylan Keyer, who led the Indians with 11 touchdowns and wide receiver Fred Pechette, who scored seven touchdowns. The Indians have scored 261 points and only allowed 66.
"The first thing is we have to win the turnover battle," Pelneau said. "We can't give them opportunities for more possession. We have to establish ourselves and be patient. They're defense is very good and we have to sustain drives."
The Patriots' offense has been led by running backs Luigi Magliocca and Tim Gordon, who have scored seven touchdowns each. Four other players - Andre Taylor, Gabe Mendez, Darius Reyes and Tyler Schmidt - have scored four touchdowns each.
Despite the do-or-die nature of the playoffs, Pelneau said practice has been business as usual this week. The winner will move on to face the winner of Friday's game between the West's No. 1 seed, Schalmont, and the Reinfurt's No. 4 seed, Ichabod Crane, at the higher seed's home.
(5-2 overall, 2-2 Class D South)
(5-2 overall, 2-2 Class D South)
Today, 7 p.m.
The Canajoharie Cougars were eliminated from the playoffs last year when they suffered a 41-21 loss to one of the two Class D South leaders, Cambridge, who will face Rensselaer for the title tonight.
Tonight, the Cougars will take the trip to Greenwich, where they will line up against the Witches to determine who takes third place.
It's a point in the season that, after last week's game, coach Ken Sullivan described as "character time."
"They came to terms with [missing the playoffs]," Sullivan said. "They want to end the season on a good note and they're working hard. Pushing through practice and did very well."
Sullivan described the Witches as a big physical team with a big offensive line and two big tackles. They also have a 6-foot, 190-pound running back, John Barnes, who has scored 21 touchdowns this season.
"They're very physical and like to run," Sullivan said. "They set up with that and their quarterback likes to roll out and throw the ball."
Kevin Shannon has carried most of the offensive load for the Cougars, but effort was complemented by Alex Renzi, who suffered a bone bruise on his right ankle during last week's loss to Cambridge. He will be unavailable for Friday night's game, making way for Seth Ferguson, who got some time in Renzi's place last week.
North No. 3 Tamarac
(4-3 overall, 3-2 Class C North)
at South No. 2 Fonda-Fultonville
(4-2 overall, 4-1 Class C South)
Saturday, 1 p.m.
The Fonda-Fultonville Braves had some midseason struggles with the offense for a few games during the regular season, but seemed to get things back on track Saturday with a 40-13 over Voorheesville, the South division's fourth-place team.
Pat Hart ran for 231 yards in the win and quarterback Russ Williams threw for 230.
"We've been consistent running the ball," Fonda-Fultonville coach Tom Carpenter said." I think it's important that we have to be as consistent throwing the football between Russ making the right reads and receivers running the right patterns and making plays after they do catch it, that's going to be important."
Carpenter described the Bengals as similar to them with good size on the offensive and defensive lines. He said quarterback Nick Arnold throws the ball well and they run the ball behind running back Dan Motzer, who has scored five touchdowns this season.
Tamarac enters the game off a 44-0 to Class C North top seed, Hoosick Falls.
"They're a good team," Carpenter said. "I'm glad we're a higher seed and we get a home game. That's important. When the game starts, a field's a field. You've got to play. Hopefully kids the will be fired up."
The winner of Saturday's game will play the winner of Saturday night's game between the South's No. 4 seed, Voorheesville, and Hoosick Falls at 7 p.m. next Saturday night at Stillwater.
Section III Class D
No. 8 Dolgeville
(5-2 overall, 3-2 Class D East)
at No. 1 Sandy Creek
(7-0 overall, 5-0 Class D Central)
Today, 7 p.m.
The young Dolgeville Blue Devils entered the playoffs as the eighth seed and will travel to the top seed in the tournament, Sandy Creek.
"They're very big up front," Dolgeville coach Chris Connolly said. "They don't throw the ball much and they might have the only worse-looking field in the section than ours. Hopefully the slop is an equalizer."
The Blue Devils were humbled last week by Class D East champion West Canada, 40-0 in a game played under portable lights. He said, however, the team bounced back this week in practice.
"It's the next day," Connolly said. "It was kind of tough. It was humiliating and terrible and went from bad to worse. At this point in the season, you get tired of players and coaches saying we're a young team, but we are a young team and we looked it last week. This week, we had more swagger and I was real happy to see it."
Despite the lopsided loss to West Canada Valley, Connolly said Class D is very even and each team has been within a touchdown of the other, and this week's matchup could have easily been between No. 4 and No. 5 seeds.
It's a 1 versus an 8 seed, but that's a coin flip," Connolly said.
Success in the playoffs means the Blue Devils could have the opportunity to avenge two of their losses this season as both Sauquoit Valley and West Canada Valley could be waiting for them in the playoffs.
The winner advances to face either No. 5 seed Sauquoit Valley or No. 4 seed Weedsport.