Burnt Hills turns the tide
Spartans reverse result of regular-season game to capture Class A title
Clifton Park Although he did not show up with his uniform top Saturday, Jack Wyatt was there when Burnt Hills’ defense needed him most. The senior linebacker sacked Queensbury’s Bryant Ward on a fourth-down attempted trick play with 1:35 remaining.
“I ran that play in Madden,” Wyatt said of the iconic NFL video game. “I saw (Ward) didn’t have a glove on, so we knew he was going to throw.”
Burnt Hills ran out the remainder of the clock to secure its third consecutive Section II Class A title with a riveting 21-16 victory over Queensbury at Shenendehowa’s Steuerwald Stadium.
Three weeks ago, Queensbury senior wingback Liam O’mara gashed Burnt Hills with six touchdown runs and three two-point conversions in a 42-21 road win that clinched the Grasso Division title.
Saturday, Queensbury managed to outgain Burnt Hills 293-191. O’mara rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns, yet he did not have nearly the same impact that he had in the first meeting.
“We prepped so much better, worked so much better and played so much better than the first time,” Wyatt said. “It was just a totally different game. We made stops when we had to.”
“I am beyond proud of our defense,” Burnt Hills senior wingback/linebacker Jakai Townsend said. “We made adjustments from the first time and made them
work. This is so satisfying.”
“We made some adjustments with our interior line and personnel changes on the outside as you saw with Jakai,” Burnt Hills coach Matt Shell said. “You have to have speed on the field. The bottom line is you really have to want it. The kids just played great.”
The players from Burnt Hills have been wearing ‘DM’ stickers on the back of their helmets for Deacon Martucci, a football player who died in an automobile accident in August.
“This is unbelievable. Everything we are doing, we are doing for Deacon,” said Wyatt, who delivered 10 tackles Saturday. “We were just a totally different team this time. We were just so much more focused than we were before.”
Burnt Hills (9-1) for the second
straight year, will have a bye into the state semifinals Nov. 16 at Middletown High School.
The win is the 150th of his career for Shell against 33 losses. The architect of all nine sectional championships with Burnt Hills was thrilled for his team, especially the senior class in getting another shot at winning a Class A state championship.
“I love these seniors. They are in my son’s class, so I have known these boys since they were 4. I’ve got a lot of history with them,” Shell said. “Just seeing the resiliency they’ve had all year long with a lot of setbacks this season and to culminate tonight, I don’t have enough good things to say.”
Shell got a kiss and congratulations from his wife and hugs from son Jacob and daughter Hannah — a star on the Spartans’ championship volleyball team.
Burnt Hills senior running back Vincent Daviero got his team rolling late in the first quarter when he broke five tackles and dashed 78 yards for a touchdown to help earn a tie at 7.
Late in the second quarter trailing 10-7, Burnt Hills senior linebacker Bryce Mussen (11 tackles) intercepted a pass. Townsend rushed the ball two times to set up a first-and-goal situation and capped the series with a 4-yard touchdown run with 27 seconds left in the half as Burnt Hills led 14-10 at halftime.
Daviero extended the lead to 21-10 when he scored on a 34-yard scamper and junior defensive back Logan Stubblebine ended the third quarter with a stop on O’mara on a fourth-and-1 run at the 16.
O’mara drew Queensbury (9-1) within five with 9:43 left, but the No. 1 seed could draw no closer.
Burnt Hills players celebrate winning their Section II title in the Class A Super Bowl, played Saturday at Shenendehowa High School.