Burghers overcome injury to win ‘D’ title
Macduff and Winchell lead way after Griffin gets hurt early in game
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.