Saturday, October 29, 2016

High School Fridays: CBA @ Troy (football playoffs), 10/28/16

The rivalry between Christian Brothers Academy of Colonie and Troy High dates back to the formation of the Big 10 Conference in the late 70's. Until Friday night, however, the two schools had not met on the gridiron in a few years.

Not only was a berth in the Section II Class AA Super Bowl on the line, but Troy coach Bob "The Builder" Burns' winning streak at Picken Memorial Field. Entering play Friday, the Flying Horses were 17-1 under Burns in 2 seasons, and 10-0 at home over that span. The flag was flying at half-staff, likely in memory of CBA assistant coach Joe Grasso, who passed away earlier this month, though nothing was said in that regard.

CBA won the toss and took the opening kickoff. However, QB Max Jones, in his first game back from injury was picked off by his counterpart, John Germinerio, setting up Troy in CBA territory. Two plays later, Joey Ward punched it in from 2 yards out to give Troy an early 7-0 lead.

The Brothers came right back, as Taurian Taylor found a hole in the defense, and ran 36 yards for a tying score. Burns had been quoted in the papers earlier Friday as saying that Troy hadn't played a complete game yet this season, and that's certainly true. The Horses were unable to answer the offensive adjustments made by CBA that sprung Taylor and Nick DiNicola for long gains.

Troy went back in front as Germinerio ran it in himself from 4 yards out, and Troy took a 14-7 lead after the first period. In the 2nd quarter, CBA took its only lead of the game, as DiNicola ran in from about 2 yards out. On the extra point, Troy's Knieco Gonzalez, inspired by seeing Seattle's Bobby Wagner hurdle across to block a field goal on Sunday night vs. Arizona, tried the same thing, but was called for offsides. CBA opted to go for 2 and the lead, and Dylan Gotay scampered in to give the Brothers a 15-14 lead at the break. The scoreboard operators were functioning at, maybe, 1/3 speed the entire night, as they were slow to update the score at every opportunity. It couldn't be the cold weather, just a night of brain cramps.

The score stayed the same until the 4th quarter. After DiNicola fumbled the ball away to Troy, Germinerio directed the offense down the field. With just under a minute to go, it appeared that Amir Taylor had picked off Germinerio to ice the game, but Ethan Evans out-muscled Taylor for the ball, and Troy retained possession. Ward scored his 2nd TD on the next play, and the Troy sidelines and bleachers were going bananas. Coach Burns opted to go for 2, and Germinerio hit Jesse Brown in the end zone to put Troy back up by a full 7 points.

Still, there was enough time for CBA to rally. After a questionable pass interference penalty moved CBA into Troy territory, there had to be feelings of deja vu, memories of the 2012 AA basketball title game, where CBA benefited from some similarly questionable officiating to win the title. Not so here. Troy shut down the Brothers, and Jones threw his 2nd interception. One kneel-down later, and the Flying Horses had punched their ticket to the Super Bowl, which this year will be a de facto home game, as it'll be just down the street at RPI's East Campus Village Stadium on Thursday.

The Super Bowl will be a rematch from September 23, as Shaker upset Empire Division champion Guilderland, 35-6, to earn a return trip to Troy. The Blue Bison have won 5 in a row since losing to Troy.
Meanwhile, LaSalle closed its season on a winning note, finishing 2-7 after beating South Glens Falls. Albany Academy, on the other hand, fell to Green Tech, 20-14. The Class A & B Super Bowls are assured of new champions this year, as Averill Park dethroned A champ Amsterdam, 21-14, and Hudson eliminated B champion Schuylerville.

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