The Colonie football team made the Section II, Class AA playoffs with help from its neighbors from Shaker.
The Blue Bison’s 30-20 victory over Columbia last Friday assured the Garnet Raiders that they would be in Sectionals no matter what happened to them against Bethlehem which turned out to be a 31-14 loss last Saturday.
We appreciate what they did for us,` said Colonie coach Mike Ambrosio.
What Shaker did for Colonie (2-3 division, 3-4 overall) was give Ambrosio an excuse to rest several of his starters, since he knew that the Garnet Raiders would be hitting the road for their first-round playoff game.
`We knew we had made the playoffs, so we were in a situation where we could rest some people,` said Ambrosio.
Bethlehem (2-3, 3-4) took ad-vantage of the situation by out-scoring Colonie 14-0 in the second half to break open a close game. Mike Strohecker’s 3-yard scoring run in the third quarter gave the Eagles a 24-14 lead, and Devin Stampley added a 1-yard scoring plunge in the fourth quarter.
The win moved Bethlehem into the No. 3 seed from the Liberty Division and a first-round match-up with Empire Division No. 2 seed Ballston Spa Friday. Colonie dropped to the No. 4 seed with the loss and put the Garnet Raiders into a quarterfinal game against Empire Division champion Saratoga Springs Friday.
`No matter where we went, we knew it was going to be a tough game. Both teams [Ballston Spa and Saratoga] are very good, physical teams,` said Ambrosio.
Shaker (1-4, 2-5) might have had a chance to make the playoff field had Colonie beaten Bethlehem Saturday. A Bethlehem loss would have created a three-way tie for fourth place, which would have led to the use of quarter points to determine which team made Sectionals.
`I thought we could have made some noise in Sectionals, but it is what it is,` said Shaker coach Dennis Bender. `I’ll have the guys ready to play CBA in Week 8 [for a crossover game].`
The Blue Bison spotted Columbia (1-4, 1-6) a 14-7 halftime lead before Conor Alund got going. The tailback scored on touchdown runs of 76 and 67 yards on consecutive plays in the second half to put Shaker ahead for good.
Alund finished with 289 rushing yards, 199 coming in the second half. Quarterback Ben Capeless contributed 187 passing yards and a two-point conversion.
`Ben is maturing very well at quarterback,` said Bender. `Having Conor [Alund] running the ball as well as he has the last couple of games has helped Ben, and having [Christian] Sherwin catching some passes now has helped Ben.`
It was Shaker’s first win since shutting out Albany 7-0 in Week 2 of the regular season. The Blue Bison had played well in the two weeks leading up to the Columbia game, though they didn’t get any wins in the process.
`It just seems that we always have that slow start and have that charge at the end of the season,` said Bender. `I just wish that we’d have that surge in the middle of the season so we’d have a chance to make the playoffs.`
The CBA team Shaker will face in Friday’s crossover game is coming off its strongest performance of the season, a 28-21 victory over Albany last Saturday at Bleecker Stadium.
The Brothers (1-4, 1-6) scored 21 unanswered points to take a 28-7 lead before Albany (0-5, 0-7) rallied with two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Tailback Jack Reilly ` in his first game back since sustaining an injury in the fourth game of the season ` rushed for 238 yards and a pair of touchdowns for CBA. Quarterback Casey Crotty had a 19-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Dukes, and Robert Macari added a 1-yard touchdown run.“