The day is finally here. We have high school football playoffs tonight. There are eight Class AA teams playing tonight in the quarterfinals, but only four can move on. Here we go!
4L Bethlehem (4-3) @ 1E Saratoga Springs (7-0)
Saratoga has had to deal with injuries in recent weeks, especially on offense. However, they still have an offense that scores points in bunches and a starting defense that has only given up five touchdowns the entire season, including pitching two straight shutouts mid-season. Bethlehem has a running core that is one of the best in Class AA in Alex Shudt, Kendall Harris and Ethan Sheraw, but a strong Saratoga D-line has the ability to shut them down. Saratoga QB Wes Eglintine has multiple threats in the air with Carter Steingraber and Lewi Clarke. As for the running game, Ashton Capone and Nick Frank have gotten the ball much more in recent weeks. Saratoga should advance.
3E Guilderland (4-3) @ 2L Shaker (6-1)
This game has a lot of potential to wind up as an upset. Shaker is no doubt a really good team (#25 in the state in Class AA), but Guilderland has won four straight after starting 0-3 and amazingly haven’t given up a single point since Week 3. Mason Leto has established himself as an above-average QB for the Dutchmen. However, Shaker has one of the top defenses in the league and can shut down a team like Guilderland, especially on their home turf. The only team Shaker lost to this season was Troy, and it’s tough to see them losing to Guilderland, although I think it will be a very close game that may come down to the final drive. Plus, a meeting between Saratoga and Shaker in the semifinals would be a dandy.
4E CBA (3-4) @ 1L Troy (7-0)
It is safe to say it would be the upset of the decade if CBA were to win this game. CBA barely reached the playoffs at 3-4 and Troy has won every game this year by at least 25 points. The Troy offensive core of Joey Ward, Dev Holmes and QB Joe Casale is just too good to make this game close. Ward has a mind-boggling 24 touchdowns this year and has rushed for 130+ yards in all but one game this season, and he is the reason that Troy is the top-ranked team in the state and will have a very deep playoff run.
3L Colonie (5-2) @ 2E Shenendehowa (6-1)
This will be a fantastic game. Two teams that are, for the most part, evenly-matched and are both capable of winning. A thing that worries me about Colonie is that they’ve only put up more than 30 points just once this season, 41 against Albany (they put up 30 against Shaker but lost). However, their defense that has only allowed opponents to reach double digits twice all year will allow them to stay in this game. Shen quietly went 6-1 and their only loss was against Saratoga. They have a high-flying offense that has scored 40+ points five times in seven games. It is a classic great offense versus great defense showdown, but the edge goes to the Plainsmen.