November 21, 2011
I wish I had the ability to be in multiple locations at one time so I could have seen the following in person:
The Schalmont girls soccer team winning the Rotterdam school's first state title in any sport with back-to-back 4-0 victories over Bronxville (Section I) and Greece Odyssey (Section V)
The Shaker boys and Saratoga girls cross country team repeating as Federation meet champions
The Section II girls swim team -- led by Niskayuna's Kina Zhou and Maggie Jordan -- claiming the overall title at the state meet
I did catch two big wins posted by Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake teams last weekend. I was in Kingston Friday to see BH-BL run over a supposedly-strong Cornwall team 35-14, and I was in Glens Falls Sunday to witness the school's girls volleyball team win its first Class A state title since 2005 with a 3-1 victory over Section V champion Mercy.
BH-BL's football team has been on a run since edging Amsterdam 26-23 in the Sectional final three weeks ago, and I mean that literally. Led by Thomas Ruppel and Daniel Porter, the Spartans have rushed for nearly 900 yards in their regional and state semifinal victories. I don't know if they can keep that up when they meet Maine-Endwell in Friday's Class A state final, but if they can get close to their average of 450 rushing yards they should bring a state title home.
The BH-BL girls volleyball team's state title was a bit overdue. The Spartans had been to five straight state tournaments since last winning the championship, only to be turned away either in pool play or in the finals. All of that experience paid off Sunday as BH-BL fended off a pesky Mercy squad.
I also witnessed the end of an era in Section II sports when the Shenendehowa football team was upended by Section IX's Newburgh Free Academy 16-6 in Saturday night's Class AA state semifinal in Kingston. The loss marked the end of Brent Steuerwald's 44-year run as Shen's head coach -- one which included 11 Section II titles and many more league championships. His 2011 team gave a great effort against Newburgh, but the Goldbacks proved to be too fast and too physical for Shen to handle.
Schalmont's football team gave an equally valiant effort in a 15-12 state semifinal loss to Croton-Harmon Saturday in Kingston. The Sabres allowed a first-quarter touchdown and then took the lead on a pair of long touchdown runs by Alex Hildebrand and Devon Willis before succumbing to the Tigers.
Overall, Section II ended the weekend with four outright state titles (BH-BL girls volleyball, the Section II girls swim team, Broadalbin-Perth boys soccer and Schalmont girls soccer) and one co-championship (Hoosick Falls girls soccer). Add in the Federation cross country titles won by Shaker and Saratoga, and you have one of the most successful weekend's for this region at the state level in recent memory.
The best part is it's not over yet, as this region will be sending BH-BL's football team to the Carrier Dome in Syracuse Friday. Hopefully the third time will be the charm for the Spartans, who lost to Section VI's Sweet Home in the 2008 and 2009 Class A finals.
Meanwhile, the winter sports season is set to begin this weekend with hockey games Friday and Saturday. The basketball season gets underway next week as our area leagues get rolling, and wrestling will soon follow with its dual meets and tournaments. Add in bowling, indoor track, cross country skiing and downhill skiing, and you have one busy winter coming up.
We'll see if our area winter teams can match what the fall teams accomplished. It's going to be a tall order, though.