Heading into Friday, we have 4 teams remaining in Class AA. Both games should be very entertaining and well-contested, and we break them down here. (Numbers are according to NYS State rankings)
#15 Guilderland (8-0) vs #12 Shaker (7-1)
The Dutchmen rolled through the regular season unbeaten, but they were given a scare in the first round against #4 seed Bethlehem (4-4). The Dutch won 12-7, but they trailed 7-6 in the second half before taking the lead for good in the 3rd quarter. Senior quarterback George Marinopoulos has been terrific for Guilderland, throwing for 1,994 yards so far this season, with 14 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Wide receiver Steve Fedorchak has been easily the best wide receiver in Section 2 this season, with 928 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns. This offense is hard to stop, but they struggled mightily against Bethlehem. It was Marinopoulos’ only game this season without a passing touchdown, and his first with multiple interceptions. On the other side, Shaker’s twin-headed dragon of running backs Mikael Brown and Kwasi Addo have been devastating this year. Brown has 643 rushing yards on 13.1 yards per carry, and Addo has 463 yards on 8.3 yards per carry. Senior QB Wahid Nabi is completing 52% of his passes for 534 yards, 7 touchdowns, and just 2 interceptions. The Bison rarely turn the ball over, and that’s what makes this offense click. It also helps their elite defense, which is allowing only 9.1 points per game. In their lone loss of the season, they allowed 20 points to Troy in a 20-13 defeat. Troy averages 39 points a game. Guilderland is currently averaging 38.4 points per game. If Shaker can hold them to 20 or under, they’ll win this game.
My pick: Shaker
#8 Troy (8-0) vs CBA (7-1)
Troy has been the best team in Section 2 this year. Junior running back Joey Ward is second in all of Section 2, and first in Class AA, with 1,165 yards on the ground. He’s averaging 9.3 yards per carry, and also has scored 12 touchdowns. He’s also caught 5 passes for 53 yards, and has even thrown a 96-yard touchdown pass. He’s probably the most dangerous runner in the playoffs, and has a knack for breaking off big runs, which fits perfectly in the Troy offense. QB John Germinerio has completed 53.8% of his passes for 1,043 yards, 18 touchdowns, and only 3 interceptions. He’s got a great arm, and is really smart with the ball. The wild card of the offense is Dev Holmes, a junior who has 251 receiving yards, 5 receiving touchdowns, 108 rushing yards, and 3 rushing touchdowns. He can run or catch, and he’s a big time key in this offense. The most important thing about this team, though, is their defense. They’re allowing only 7.0 points per game this season. This makes an interesting matchup with CBA, as the Brothers are scoring 36.3 points per game. They also have an elite running back. Nick DeNicola has 1,065 yards and 16 touchdowns this year. He’s been red-hot lately, with 7 touchdowns in his last two games. Senior QB Max Jones has fit well with the offense when he’s been healthy, and he’s healthy now. He runs the ball well, with 152 yards on the ground, and hasn’t turned the ball over yet this season. The offense heavily revolves around DeNicola, so they need a big day from him. To me, though, the Troy defense is elite, and when paired with the offense that they have, it’s hard for me to pick them to lose here.
My pick: Troy