Burghers over­come in­jury to win ‘D’ ti­tle

Mac­duff and Winchell lead way after Grif­fin gets hurt early in game

Albany Times Union - Sunday - - HIGH SCHOOLS - By Steve Grandin Schuylerville ▶

Some­times the best team can win sim­ply by show­ing up. And there are times when the whole game plan is thrown out the win­dow and you have to start from scratch.

War­rens­burg, which cap­tured the Sec­tion II Class D foot­ball reg­u­lar-sea­son ti­tle, win­ning seven of eight games, en­tered Satur­day’s sec­tional cham­pi­onship game the de­cided fa­vorite against Hoosic Val­ley. But eight min­utes into the game, Burghers coach Mike Perrone had to re­think ev­ery­thing.

Jesse Grif­fin, the Burghers’ 1,100-yard rusher, went out with a shoul­der in­jury and, with just a 20-man ros­ter, Perrone and his staff had to mix and match to cre­ate a new of­fense.

Thanks to the play of quar­ter­back Evan Mac­duff and fresh­man Dy­lan Winchell, it all worked out for War­rens­burg as the Burghers rolled to a 28-6 win over Hoosic Val­ley at Schuylerville High School, win­ning their first sec­tional foot­ball ti­tle since 2004.

War­rens­burg (8-1) will now face Sec­tion VII pow­er­house Mo­riah (7-2) next Satur­day af­ter­noon on the same field in the state quar­ter­fi­nals.

“It’s like putting a puz­zle to­gether, mov­ing the kids all over,” Perrone said. “But I have to give all the credit to the kids — they are all very foot­ball smart.”

Grif­fin, whose sta­tus for next week is up in the air, car­ried the ball on nine of War­rens­burg’s first 11 plays against Hoosic Val­ley, pick­ing up 100 yards and a touch­down in just eight min­utes of play. But he was in­jured on a 25-yard run on the first play of the Burghers’ se­cond pos­ses­sion, putting the ball deep in Hoosic Val­ley ter­ri­tory. Then, with Grif­fin out of the lineup, Mac­duff car­ried the ball on five of the next six plays and com­pleted a cru­cial fourth-down pass to keep the drive alive as War­rens­burg in­creased its lead to 14-0 with 2:12 left in the first quar­ter.

The Burghers boosted the mar­gin late in the se­cond quar­ter, as Mac­duff en­gi­neered an 82-yard scor­ing drive, run­ning four times and com­plet­ing a pair of passes, be­fore Winchell went 29 yards around the end for a touch­down. Mac­duff then com­pleted a two-point con­ver­sion.

In the third quar­ter, Mac­duff drove the Burghers on a 13-play, 74-yard drive to ice the con­test, scor­ing a touch­down run on the first play of the fourth pe­riod. Perrone lauded Mac­duff’s play­call­ing through­out the game, as he was call­ing au­di­bles against the chang­ing Hoosic Val­ley de­fense.

The War­rens­burg de­fense kept Hoosic Val­ley bot­tled up for vir­tu­ally the en­tire game, fi­nally los­ing the shutout with 1:04 left on Wil­liam Scofield’s touch­down run. The Burghers stuffed Hoosic Val­ley on three fourth-and-short sit­u­a­tions to halt In­di­ans’ drives, as well as get­ting in­ter­cep­tions from Chris Wil­son and Colden Wells.

Perrone was es­pe­cially pleased with the de­fen­sive play of Winchell, a re­serve at cor­ner­back who was forced into ac­tion when Grif­fin was hurt.

“He’s just a fresh­man and (Hoosic Val­ley) went after him, but he made a few nice plays,” Perrone said.

De­spite los­ing Grif­fin, War­rens­burg con­trolled the line of scrim­mage, lim­it­ing Hoosic Val­ley to just 25 plays in the first three quar­ters. For the day, the Burghers out­gained Hoosic Val­ley, 292-147.

Perrone felt the seeds of this year’s cham­pi­onship were planted last Novem­ber.

“The Mon­day after our (sec­tional semi­fi­nal) loss to Cam­bridge (last year), there were 17 kids in the weight room get­ting ready for this year,” he said with a smile.

Steve Grandin is a free­lance writer.

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