Glens Falls foot­ball

In­di­ans rally past No. 1 Batavia to cap­ture sec­ond state ti­tle in three sea­sons.

Albany Times Union - Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - By James Allen

As he slith­ered away from the fi­nal un­suc­cess­ful tack­ling at­tempts by a pair of Batavia de­fend­ers Satur­day, Glens Falls sopho­more run­ning back Aal­i­jah Samp­son dashed for­ward to score his third touch­down and then got a cel­e­bra­tory lift sky­ward by tackle Kyle Va­chon. The truth is the In­di­ans had al­ready taken flight long be­fore that score.

In a con­test that started com­pletely go­ing in top-ranked Batavia’s fa­vor in the first quar­ter, Glens Falls made sure the fi­nal three quar­ters were com­pletely in its fa­vor.

Se­nior quar­ter­back Joseph Gi­rard III pro­vided one fi­nal vir­tu­oso per­for­mance on the grid­iron in lead­ing the In­di­ans to a re­mark­able 55-32 vic­tory over the Blue Dev­ils in the Class B state foot­ball fi­nal at the Syra­cuse Car­rier Dome.

Glens Falls (11-2) cap­tured the pro­gram’s sec­ond state cham­pi­onship since 2016, and did so this time by over­com­ing a 14-0 deficit. Glens Falls joins Troy, Cam­bridge and Am­s­ter­dam as pro­grams with mul­ti­ple state cham­pi­onships won at the Car­rier Dome since the full state play­off sys­tem be­gan in 1993.

“This feels amaz­ing. Words can­not de­scribe how happy I am,” said Samp­son, who rushed for 135 yards and four touch­downs.

“To do this once is in­cred­i­ble, but to do this twice in my high school ca­reer makes me speech-

less,” Va­chon said.

“This team is spe­cial. It is such a tight group and it showed again in this game,” Glens Falls se­nior cen­ter/ nose guard Thomp­son Collins said. “We’ve been to­gether since we were lit­tle kids. Our say­ing this year is ‘One heart­beat.’ We truly are that.”

The Blue Dev­ils (12-1) left Glens Falls with pal­pi­ta­tions dur­ing the first quar­ter as se­nior run­ning back Ray Leach caught a touch­down pass and threw a touch­down pass to stake the Sec­tion V cham­pi­ons to a 14-0 ad­van­tage with 3:30 left.

Things got even worse as Batavia re­cov­ered an on­side kick, but Gi­rard started the come­back with an in­ter­cep­tion of a pass thrown by Leach at the Glens Falls 7. Two pass plays went in­com­plete to set up a thir­dand-10 sit­u­a­tion from the 7.

Gi­rard scram­bled away from trou­ble in the end zone and un­corked a long pass that ju­nior re­ceiver David Bar­clay caught and turned into a 60-yard gain. Gi­rard later capped that se­ries with an in­cred­i­ble 4-yard touch­down run on which he went right, re­versed field back to the 30 and ran to the other side­line to score, but it was the pass to Bar­clay that truly jump­started the In­di­ans.

“I went to the left side and the play wasn’t sup­posed to be run our way, so I just saw Joe scram­bling, roll out and turn to his right,” Bar­clay said. “I tried to get be­hind my de­fender. Joe can re­ally sling that thing.”

“I just trusted Dave. I know he was go­ing to keep run­ning,” Glens Falls coach Pat Lilac said. “He did a great job run­ning to the ball and mak­ing the catch. It was a huge mo­men­tum swing.”

“That play was Joe,” Collins said. “Joe on the field told ev­ery­one to keep their heads up, that it wasn’t over at all. The line gave him some time. When we do that, he does some spe­cial stuff. That is ex­actly what he did on that pass.”

There were plenty more spe­cial things in store from Gi­rard and Samp­son as Glens Falls took a 21-20 lead into in­ter­mis­sion. The Blue Dev­ils lost start­ing quar­ter­back Ethan Bis­caro to a right knee in­jury in the first quar­ter and Batavia’s of­fense sput­tered se­verely in the sec­ond quar­ter.

Gi­rard marched the In­di­ans down the field to open the third quar­ter, cap­ping the drive with a 33-yard touch­down strike to Bar­clay on a fourth-down play. Gi­rard, who earned the game Most Valu­able Player award and re­ceived postgame con­grat­u­la­tions from his soon-to-be col­lege bas­ket­ball coach Jim Boe­heim, threw for 314 yards and two touch­downs and ran for two touch­downs.

“That kid is just un­be­liev­able,” Va­chon said of Gi­rard. “I re­mem­ber play­ing my first day of flag foot­ball with him. He was al­ways a quar­ter­back grow­ing up. Even when he played bas­ket­ball, he al­ways wanted to be bet­ter than the av­er­age Joe. That is what he did, and that is what he showed to­day.”

Bis­caro at­tempted to give it a go and he played two se­ries, but con­sec­u­tive sacks by Dy­lan Niro and Ter­relle Bon­ner-welch knocked him out of the game. Leach, as he has done through­out the post­sea­son, again ran wild on an op­po­nent. This time, he ac­counted for 410 yards rush­ing and three touch­downs to go along with a 46-yard touch­down pass and a 28-yard touch­down re­cep­tion. The bruis­ing 215-pound se­nior, who amassed 474 yards rush­ing and eight touch­downs in the semi­fi­nals and 417 yards and eight touch­downs in the quar­ter­fi­nals, could not do enough to deny Glens Falls.

“We were con­fi­dent in our de­fense and we showed what we could do,” Gi­rard said. “I am just re­ally happy to be state cham­pion and def­i­nitely do­ing it here at the Car­rier Dome.”

“We stopped him enough,” Va­chon said of Leach. “He could have 510 yards, but if you don’t put up enough points, you don’t win the game. We had Joe bail us out.”

The In­di­ans pro­duced 464 yards on 56 plays and scored eight touch­downs to ef­fec­tively off­set Leach’s ex­ploits. Batavia had 538 yards.

“It just shows how good of an of­fen­sive team we are and how good Joe is,” Bar­clay said. “Trent had a great game. The O-line was amaz­ing and Aal­i­jah was run­ning ev­ery­where. A great ef­fort all around.”

Lilac gladly toted the state cham­pi­onship plaque af­ter­ward. Un­like in 2016 when the In­di­ans cruised to the state fi­nal and reg­is­tered an epic 47-39 win over Chenango Forks, the 2018 team had over­come in­juries and two losses to se­cure the state cham­pi­onship.

“That 2016 team was so tal­ented. This team, we had to fight for ev­ery­thing we got,” Lilac said. “We had to deal with Burnt Hills and Queens­bury. That kid right there (point­ing to Trent Gi­rard, who had seven re­cep­tions for 183 yards) epit­o­mizes the blue-col­lar na­ture of this group. Even though we are a spread of­fense and go up and down the field at a fast pace, we have a blue-col­lar edge and it re­ally rep­re­sented Glens Falls and the way the town is.”

[email protected]­sunion.com 518-454-5062 @Tuside­lines

Adrian Kraus / Spe­cial to the Times Union

Glens Falls’ Joseph Gi­rard III, cen­ter, cel­e­brates with the cham­pi­onship plaque af­ter the In­di­ans won the Class B state ti­tle on Satur­day in Syra­cuse.

Pho­tos by Adrian Kraus / Spe­cial to the times union

Glens falls’ ter­relle Bon­ner-welch, right, sacks Batavia’s ethan Bis­caro, who fum­bled on the play on Satur­day in Syra­cuse. Left, Glens falls’ Aal­i­jah Samp­son is lifted by Kyle Va­chon af­ter scor­ing one of his four touch­downs.

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