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New York State Class B Semifinals
Croton-Harmon (10-0) vs. Schalmont (11-0)
When: Saturday, 3 p.m.
Where: Dietz Stadium, Kingston
State rankings: Croton-Harmon is 2. Schalmont is 4.
State tournament history
2008: Lost in Class C state final
2010: Lost in Class B state semifinals
2009: Lost in Class B state semifinals
2010: Lost in Class B state championship
Did you know? Schalmont defeated Croton-Harmon in last year’s state semifinal, 28-14. The Sabres ran for 357 yards in that contest on just 37 attempts for a staggering 9.7 average.
|9/3||at Cohoes||W 41-7|
|9/16||at Broad-Perth||W 60-13|
|10/8||at Hudson Falls||W 28-7|
|11/5||Albany Acad*||W 36-35|
* - Playoff game
Scouting the opponent: Schlamont
Xs and Os: You may not see a team that’s more committed to run than Schalmont, which is a spread offense team. The Sabres only attempted nine passes in the passes in the previous two games and average under eight attempts per game. Their linemen move so well and the offense is designed for misdirection and getting their blockers out in space.
Devon Willis, Soph., RB: The Sabres’ main back is a talented 6-foot, 160-pound youngster. Willis has run for 1,486 yards and 17 touchdowns, highlighted by a 256-yard effort in the Section 2 final.
Alex Hildenbrand, Sr., RB/DB: The team’s overall best player is Hildenbrand, who play significant time in last year’s win over Croton. This season he’s rushed for 935 yards (11.5 avg.) and 14 touchdowns, and intercepted five passes on defense.
Jean Gomez, Sr., LB: The Section 2 Class B defensive player of the year is hard-hitting middle LB who’ll certainly disrupt Croton’s running game.
Path to victory: Croton-Harmon: While personnel is largely the same, this is a different Croton team than the one that lost to Schalmont last season. The Tigers will be far more aggressive on both sides of the ball this time around, especially on defense. Don’t expect Croton to get overmatched by Schalmont’s line. As long as the Tigers can control the line and avoid giving up the big plays that killed them last year, they have a very realistic shot at winning this game.
Path to victory: Schalmont: The Sabres know they’re going to face a vastly improved Jesse Mainiero and an overall stronger core of Croton skill players than they did last season. Schalmont’s emphasis should be on pressuring Mainiero and not giving him much time to throw. The Sabres struggled to contain a very similar player in Albany Academy’s Conner Hartigan (173 pass/75 rush, 4 TDs) in the Section 2 final. Containing the passing game is the only way Schalmont wins this game.
Devaney’s pick: Schalmont isn’t quite the team it was last season and Croton-Harmon is better. So doesn’t it make sense that the result will be reversed? It’s not that simple. But the fact that Schalmont has not dominated its schedule the way it did last season says a lot. Croton has been a model of consistency all season on the defensive side. I like the Tigers’ ability to limit Schalmont’s rushing attack and to move on to the title game. Prediction: Croton-Harmon 21, Schalmont 13
Up next: The winner will face either Hornell or Chittenango for the state championship on Sunday, November 27 at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. Hornell is the two-time state champion.
Email Kevin Devaney Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org