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Blog exclusive: Burnt Hills Super Bowl preview

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Diary of a Mad Sportswriter: Blog exclusive: Burnt Hills Super Bowl preview

Diary of a Mad Sportswriter

Stan Hudy is a sportswriter for The Saratogian and Community News. He covers high school and youth sports in the Saratoga County area as well as writing a weekly book review on sports books. He's not just a "stick and ball" sportswriter, he's willing to take on any sport as well as any subject.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Blog exclusive: Burnt Hills Super Bowl preview

This was planned to run as part of a Super Bowl preview package in The Saratogian, but the space gods wouldn't permit it, so here it is.

The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake football squad will take on Bishop Maginn 7 p.m. tonight in the Class A Super Bowl at Christian Brothers Academy in Albany. In the battle of undefeated, the Spartans are facing almost a mirror of itself.

Both squads have quality, seasoned quarterbacks – Burnt Hills with senior Paul Layton and Bishop Maginn with senior signal caller Bunduka Kargbo. Both teams have prolific scoring offenses – Burnt Hills has tallied 437 points, 48.5 per game average, Bishop Maginn 320 points, 36 p.p.g. Both teams have been stingy on defense – Burnt Hills has allowed 53 points, 5.88 per game and Bishop Maginn has allowed 89 points, 9.9 per game.

Both teams like to run the ball, Burnt Hills with its wing-T option and Bishop Maginn with its own option but the Spartans enter with Super Bowl maturity, making its third consecutive trip to the Class A title game. The Griffins haven’t played in week 10 in eight years (2000).

Burnt Hills has blown out (21-points or more) eight of its nine opponents compared to Bishop Maginn’s four.

The Griffins are more experienced in late-game heroics, beating Lansingburgh, 22-16, in overtime in week five and being forced to outscore its opponent for the win three times this year.

“They run the ball well, they have a good tight end and good receivers,” Burnt Hills coach Matt Shell said. “They can make you miss and make big plays. They’re line is big and all year long they’ve been able to run and pass the ball. They’re a team that makes you defend.”

Bishop Maginn coach Joe Grasso has similar thoughts about Burnt Hills.
“They do a good job of spreading the wealth with four or five different kids,” Grasso said. “Their quarterback is their best runner and he also throws the ball extremely well and they catch the ball well.

“They’re a team you have to defend the entire field,” Grasso said. “They run a Wing-T with a lot of formations, the run the counter, the counter-trey and the quarterback keeps the ball a lot. That’s a lot of pressure on the defense.”

The answer for his Griffins is to stay home (on defense that is).

“They have to stay disciplined and focused, dealing with our own responsibility,” Grasso said. “With our aggressive style of defense we have to wary of that.”

Grasso is aware that a team doesn’t average almost 50 points a game without some talent up front.

“They’re blocking schemes are precise and their execution in the backfield is impressive to me,” Grasso said. “They have kids who come up through the ranks, listened and learned from their coaches and have been able to execute what they do.
“Their sheer talent,” Grasso said is a plus. “They are as talented as anyone on our schedule. They do things right and are able to showcase their talent that much better. They’re a lot to prepare for.”

For Shell, he comes off a cool as the other side of the pillow.

“It’s a good match-up,” Shell said. “It comes down to blocking and tackling and a chance to make a big play. It could be anything, even a yard for a first down.
“It’s a fundamental game when it’s all said and done,” Shell said. “It will come down to the team that is able to do that for four quarters.”

The Spartans weren’t challenged until last week against Troy in the semifinal, winning 35-20 but were tied at 14 at halftime.

“Troy was a very good game,” Shell said. “For us to do that, to know our kids can play four quarters was important. We expect them to play four quarters, we did it and its good to know.

“They’ll have to be ready and expect to play at a high level for four quarters again this week.”

Game time is 7 p.m. at Colonie High School, expect to stay late.

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