September 23, 2006
September 13, 2006
Could Albert Pujols be victimized by the Dontrelle Willis Theory? Jayson Stark thinks he might.
The End of an Era
September 12, 2006
Football Power Rankings: Week 2 (Pt 2)
1. Ravena 2-0
2. Cobleskill 2-0 (up 1)
3. Albany Academy 2-0 (up 2)
4. Hudson Falls 0-2 (down 2)
5. Hudson 1-1 (down 1)
Ravena is clearly the best team in the class. That's one thing that nobody's going to debate right now. And I think Cobleskill has to be #2, after good wins over Watervliet and Hudson. But that's where the easy picks end. I put AA at #3 despite the fact that I don't think they're really that good - wins over Fonda and Schalmont aren't very impressive. But who else should go there? HF is the most impressive 0-2 team in the section, but anytime you lose to South Glens Falls you're going down in my rankings. Hudson has a good claim to the #3 spot as well, after just barely losing (20-19) to Cobleskill.
6. Fonda 1-1 (up 1)
7. Schalmont 1-1 (up 1)
8. Johnstown 1-1 (down 2)
9. Broadalbin-Perth 1-1 (up 2)
10. Cohoes 0-2 (down 1)
11. Taconic Hills 0-2 (down 1)
I put Fonda here, but I'm not really sure they're better than any of the next three teams. A win at Taconic Hills isn't a great victory, but nobody else really has much more to hang their hat on. Johnstown is too small to stop a good rushing attack, but they might be good enough to beat mediocre teams. And Cohoes and Taconic Hills are the two worst teams in the class.
1. Chatham 2-0 (up 1)
2. Hoosick Falls 2-0 (up 1)
3. Cambrige 1-1 (down 2)
4. Voorheesville 2-0 (up 7)
5. Lake George 2-0 (up 1)
Chatham and Hoosick Falls have to be ranked 1-2 here, though the order is debatable. Chatham has looked awfully great playing two mediocre teams, and Hoosick Falls has two good, fairly easy wins (Cambridge and the rebuilding Schuylerville). I'm still putting Cambridge at #3, partly because I want them to make me look good for initially ranking them #1 and partly because I can't justify putting anyone else at #3. None of the other 2-0 teams have any great wins - Voorheesville has beaten CCHS and Schuylerville; Lake George has victories over Warrensburg and Whitehall.
6. Mechanicville 2-0 (up 6)
7. Stillwater 2-0
8. Canajoharile 1-1
9. Watervliet 0-2 (down 4)
10. Schuylerville 0-2 (down 6)
11. Granville 1-1 (down 1)
12. Catholic Central 0-2 (down 3)
13. Granville 1-1 (down 3)
14. Corinth 1-1 (up 2)
15. Coxsackie 1-1
16. Tamarac 1-1 (down 2)
17. Hoosic Valley 0-2
I really don't know what to do with the second half of this class. Mechanicville and Stillwater are both still unbeaten, Canjo looks like a decent team and Watervliet should be playing better than they are. Schuylerville is in major rebuilding mode at this point after winning the class championship last year, and then you're stuck with a bunch of 1-1 teams who have beaten each other, so you really don't know who's better than who. CCHS was a trendy sleeper pick for this year, but they haven't played well. And sorry Hoosic Valley - there's always next year.
1. Fort Edward 2-0 (up 1)
2. Salem 1-1 (down 1)
3. Rensselaer 1-1
4. Warrensburg 0-2
5. Whitehall 0-2
6. Bishop Gibbons 0-1
I finally made the switch, putting FE ahead of Salem. I still think Salem has a really good shot to win their 9/30 matchup (and more importantly the class title game), but so far FE has looked like the better team. Not much motion in these rankings, and I don't expect there to be much more movement before the season's over.
September 10, 2006
Football Power Rankings: Week 2 (Pt 1)
1. Saratoga 1-1 (up 1)
2. Colonie 1-1 (up 1)
3. Columbia 2-0 (up 7)
4. Queensbury 2-0 (up 5)
5. Guilderland 2-0 (up 9)
Ah, the mystery of Class AA. I think Saratoga is #1, and I'm sticking to it until proven otherwise. Colonie stays at #2 - I know Queensbury, Guilderland, and Columbia have better records, but would you really take any of them over Colonie, for one game, at this point? I wouldn't. Columbia has the best wins of the four unbeatens (@ LaSalle, vs Shen), so I'm giving them the #3 spot. Queensbury has looked extremely impressive in beating Nisky and CBA, and Guilderland is surprisingly 2-0.
6. Bethlehem 2-0
7. Shaker 1-1 (up 6)
8. CBA 0-2 (down 4)
9. Troy 1-1 (down 8)
10. LaSalle 1-1 (down 3)
11. Ballston Spa 1-1 (down 3)
12. Shen 0-2 (down 7)
13. Nisky 0-2 (down 2)
14. Albany 0-2 (down 2)
15. Schenectady 0-2
Bethlehem is 2-0, but the teams they've beat - Ballston Spa and Schenectady - are two teams that they should beat. Even though I have them ranked ahead of Shaker, I'd probably pick them to lose when they play the Bison this week. Shaker is coming off a big win against Colonie, and that loss to Guilderland doesn't look so bad anymore. CBA lost to the emerging Queensbury, so I won't drop them too far. There's slightly off, there's very wrong, and then there's me putting Troy at #1 last week. Boy, I wish I could have that one back. They're probably too far down now, but that's what they get for making me look like a fool last week. LaSalle should be better than this by the end of the season. Will Shen end the season at #12? Doubtful. But this still is just a shell of the Shen dynasties of the past, and this team is not a legit contender for the class title this year. I think putting Schenectady at the bottom is probably the surest pick of the bunch.
1. Burnt Hills 2-0
2. Lansingburgh 2-0
3. Amsterdam 2-0 (up 1)
4. Bishop Maginn 1-1 (up 1)
5. Glens Falls 1-1 (down 2)
Burnt Hills stays at the top after a 42-7 thrashing of Glens Falls last week. Right now, the Spartans' rushing attack looks unstoppable - running backs DJ Moore and Kyle Holmes have combined for nine touchdowns in two games this season. Lansingburgh looked great against Mohonasen this week; their offense looks just as good right now with Kenny Youngs leading a potent rushing attack and Connor Gallo making plays through the air. But their defense worries me - they gave up two touchdowns on deep passes to wide-open recievers, and were called for a number of personal fouls. Amsterdam has not looked good at all this season, but they are 2-0. And sometimes the mark of a great team is that they win games even when they play terribly. Maginn might not be a better team than GF, but they certainly looked better last week. Glens Falls has some talent, but they appeared to sorely miss all-state WR Jimmer Fredette last week (he's not playing this year to focus on hoops) - their offense was shut out by a very strong Spartans defense, as their only points came off a David White kickoff return.
6. Mohonasen 1-1
7. Gloversville 1-1
8. Scotia 0-2 (up 1)
9. Averill Park 0-2 (down 1)
10. South Glens Falls 1-1
Mohon looked okay against Lansingburgh, but didn't have enough talent to compete for the full four quarters. Gloversville's victory over AP solidifies them as the #7 team in the class. You could probably make a case for Scotia or AP in the eighth slot - I picked Scotia because they've played two top-three temas - but we'll see who's better next week, when the two square off in Averill Park. SGF got a nice win last week over Hudson - snapping an 11-game losing streak - but they're still probably the worst team in the class this year.
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (2-0) - BH-BL has two wins so far, a 32-13 victory over Gloversville and then a 42-7 domination of Glens Falls last week. Burnt Hills also has the advantage that they play in the weaker division, so the next-best team in the division is Bishop Maginn (as opposed to Division II, which houses L'burgh, Amsterdam, and Glens Falls). They don't have to play the Knights or the Rams during the regular season, and their toughest divisional play test comes next week when they play Maginn at home. The only game they are likely to lose is at the end of the month, when the play at 2-0 Queensbury.
Upcoming Schedule: 9/15 vs Maginn, 9/21 vs Mohon, 9/30 @ Queensbury
Amsterdam (2-0) - The Rams have not looked good in either of their two wins (at Maginn and Scotia), but they still are the defending state champs and they still are 2-0. The Rams also have time to straighten things out - they don't play Glens Falls or Lansingburgh until October. So Amsterdam should be 5-0 by the time the calendar turns.
Upcoming Schedule: 9/15 vs S. Glens Falls, 9/21 @ Averill Park, 9/29 vs Gloversville
Lansingburgh (2-0) - The Knights have posted a couple wins over the bottom class of Class A - at Scotia and home against Mohon. But they have looked very impressive in doing so. When the Knights take on Amsterdam on October 13th, it could very likely be for the Division II title. The Knights go on the road for the next two weeks - first against Gloversville and then against contender Glens Falls before an interesting home game against Class B contender Hudson.
Upcoming Schedule: 9/15 @ Gloversville, 9/21 @ Glens Falls, 9/29 vs Hudson
Bishop Maginn (1-1) - 9/15 @ BH-BL, 9/21 vs Scotia, 9/29 @ Averill Park
Glens Falls (1-1) - 9/15 @ Mohon, 9/21 vs Lansingburgh, 9/29 vs SGF
Ravena (2-0) - Ravena has looked like the best team so far, beating Hudson Falls and Johnstown. In the coming weeks, they have two easily winnable games sandwiched around one very interesting matchup - a 9/22 game in Hudson. That game could decide the Reinfurt Division championship.
Upcoming Schedule - 9/15 vs Taconic Hills, 9/22 @ Hudson, 9/29 vs Cohoes
Cobleskill (2-0) - Cobleskill looks like the best team in the West division right now after a very good 20-19 win at Hudson. Hudson Falls is probably the second-best team in the division, but right now they're 0-2. Cobleskill should win their next three (or next two, at the very least), but nothing is a guarantee in the world of high school sports.
Upcoming Schedule - 9/15 vs Schalmont, 9/23 @ Fonda, 9/29 vs Hudson Falls
Albany Academy (2-0) - The Cadets are 2-0, but have beaten a couple mediocre teams (Fonda, Schalmont). They won't be tested for the next three weeks either, so this is another team that will almost surely enter October unbeaten. That's when things get interesting for the Cadets, with home games against Hudson and Ravena.
Upcoming Schecule - 9/15 @ CCHS, 9/22 @ Cohoes, 9/29 @ Taconic Hills
Hudson (1-1) - Hudson should be a good team this year, with a 33-0 drubbing of Broadalbin-Perth and a close 20-19 loss to Cobleskill. They have a very tough schedule for the coming weeks, however; after a game against cohoes, they have to play Ravena and then at Lansingburgh. Hard to see the Blue Hawks winning all three games, although only the former two are league games.
Upcoming Schedule - 9/15 vs Cohoes, 9/22 vs Ravena, 9/29 @ L'burgh
Hudson Falls (0-2) - 9/16 @ Fonda, 9/23 vs Broadalbin-Perth, 9/29 @ Cobleskill
Chatham (2-0) - Chatham has shown that they have no trouble beating the lesser teams, with a 71-7 drubbing of Hoosic Valley and a 47-7 victory over CCHS already under their belt. But how will they fare against the better teams? We should know more after the next two weeks, games at Coxsackie and against Voorheesville. Still, the South division looks like the easiest in Class C, and I would not be surprised to see Chatham run the table.
Upcoming Schedule - 9/16 @ Coxsackie, 9/22 vs Voorheesville, 9/29 @ Tamarac
Stillwater (2-0) - I still don't know whether Stillwater is a contender or a pretender, as their two wins have came over middle-of-the-pack teams (Granville, Canajoharie). But we should know a lot more about them after one of next week's best games, when Hoosick Falls comes to town. They also happen to have a bye week on the 29th-30th. If they beat Hoosick Falls, they will have a very good chance to run the table the rest of the way.
Upcoming Schedule - 9/16 vs Hoosick Falls, 9/23 vs CCHS, 9/29 bye
Hoosick Falls (2-0) - Hoosick Falls probably looks like the best team in the section right now, with dominating victories over last year's Class C champion Schuylervile and last year's Class D champion Cambridge. The aforementioned game at Stillwater next week is their last test, as the rest of their schedule looks very easy.
Upcoming Schedule - 9/16 @ Stillwater, 9/22 vs Mechanicville, 9/30 @ Hoosic Valley
Cambridge (1-1) - Maybe Cambridge isn't as good as I think they are, but I still am holding fast to my belief that last week's game was an aberration and the Indians can compete with the best of Class C. They play at Lake George next week in a game that will solidify one or the other as a legit contender in the class. After that, Cambridge's toughest matchup is an October 6th matchup at slumping Schuylerville.
Upcoming Schedule - 9/15 @ Lake George, 9/23 vs Corinth, 9/30 vs Greenwich
Voorheesville (2-0) - 9/16 vs Watervliet, 9/22 at Chatham, 9/30 vs Coxsackie
Mechanicville (2-0) - 9/16 vs Hoosic Valley, 9/22 @ Hoosick Falls, 9/30 vs CCHS
Lake George (2-0) - 9/15 vs Cambridge, 9/23 @ Granville, 9/29 vs Schuylerville
Salem (1-1) - Realistically, the only contenders in Class D are Salem and Fort Edward, though Rensselaer and Warrensburg might be able to pull an upset. We'll find out who the best team in the class is on September 30th, when Salem hosts Fort Edward. And, as of right now, none of the other games really matter.
Upcoming Schedule - 9/16 vs B. Gibbons, 9/23 vs Whitehall, 9/30 vs Ford Edward
Fort Edward (2-0) - Not much more to say.
Upcoming Schedule - 9/16 vs Whitehall, 9/23 vs Rensselaer, 9/30 @ Salem
Quick note: Combined 2005 record of the four NFL teams on local TV right now (Philly-Houston, NYJ-Tennessee): 16-48. Ugh.
September 09, 2006
Broadalbin-Perth 46, Cohoes 0
Coxsackie-Athens 33, Hoosic Valley 6
Mechanicville 34, Watervliet 22
Albany Academy 44, Schalmont 0
Stillwater 35, Granville 6
Corinth 20, Warrensburg 6
Fort Edward 35, Taramac 0
South Glens Falls 6, Hudson Falls 0
Lake George 22, Whitehall 8
Pretty impressive for SGF to pull out a win at Hudson Falls - they were the team that almost beat Ravena last week. I guess that shows the strength of Class A this year. More coming tomorrow.
Johnstown-Ravena: I only stayed for the first six minutes or so of the game, but I didnt' miss much the rest of the way. By the time I left, the score was 13-0 in Ravena's favor, Johnstown had yet to run a single offensive play, the ball had yet to cross Ravena's 40-yard-line (Johnstown opened with an onside kick), and Ravena had run a total of zero pass plays. Johnstown was simply too small to stop Ravena's rushing attack. Pat Filkins was the star of the show, following up last week's 300-yard performance with a 179-yard game today. Mike Fortier also ran for triple digits, and the two combined for five touchdowns.
Johnstown opened with an onside kick that Ravena recovered, and things went downhill from there. The Indians marched down the field with a four-minute drive, capped off by Fortier's ten-yard run that found the end zone. On the ensuing kickoff, Johnstown's kick returner (don't remember who it was) ran the kick back to about the 20 before being stripped by a Ravena player (I believe it was Nate Graham). A couple plays later, Filkins found the end zone to make it 13-0.
Filkins' TD run didn't look extremely impressive, but I found it amazing - it was a sweep to the left, but the toss was thrown behind him too much. Filkins had to turn around to catch the ball, spun back to face forward, and then dodged a couple defenders to score. I don't know how exactly how impressive that is - I have never been a running back - but I don't think I'd be coordinated enough to catch that ball without falling flat on my face, let alone taking it in for a touchdown. Filkins is the single most important player in Class B this year. Ravena rolled to a 47-7 win.
And one more quick note about that game - have you ever looked at Ravena's uniforms closely? They look like a cross between Florida State and the Oregon Ducks. They have the same logo on their helmet as FSU, and the same strange bright green-bright yellow color scheme as Oregon. Here's a picture if you want to see - I think it's from last year, but they haven't changed much.
Mohon-Lansingburgh: This game was much more entertaining. When I got there, the score was 8-0 Lansingburgh and the first quarter was almost over. The first thing that stood out to me was how many people were there - Lansingburgh's stadium has a huge set of bleachers, and they were just about 100% full. I didn't bring a camera (that's something I will start doing in the future), but it got very loud at some points. Unless the stadium is packed, football games at this level usually don't get very loud, mainly because the field is so far away from the crowd (as opposed to, say, basketball games, where the crowd is often right up on the court and the sound echoes around the gym).
Lansingburgh seemed content to run the football, and their triple-option offense was picking up yards early on. But in the middle of the second quarter (14-0 L'burgh), Mohon's offense started rolling. Star QB Patrick Barnes took off on a 30-yard run, and the Knights were called for a late hit afterwards, moving the ball to Lansingburgh's 20. Then, on a 4th-and-16 (from the 26), Barnes hit Josh Provost in the end zone to make the score 14-6. I don't know how Lansingburgh could possibly give up a touchdown there - they knew Barnes was going for the end zone, and they still didn't stop him. The Knights' safety did slip a little, but he was beaten anyhow. Great throw by Barnes as well.
A couple minutes later, Lansingburgh fumbled the ball around midfield, and Mohon recovered. On the next play, Barnes hit Provost deep - he was wide open - and Provost took it in 52 yards for a touchdown. But the 2-point conversion was no good, and the Knights scored again to take a 22-12 halftime lead.
Opening the third quarter, Lansingburgh's rushing attack was unstoppable - I believe they ran off gains of around 20, 15, 10, 6, and then an 11-yard TD on consecutive plays. Mohon needed a touchdown on the next drive to stay in the game. And their offense was ready, with a great drive that kept moving the chains and gave them a 1st-and-goal on Lansinburgh's one-yard-line. But the Knights' defense stepped up, and Mohon never saw the end zone. Lansingburgh got the ball back inside their own five, and put the final nail in the Warriors' coffin - touchdown pass from QB Connor Gallo to Kenny Youngs that went 98 yards. Youngs also had a 95-yard INT return for a touchdown earlier in the game (the score that I missed); that kid is fast. I haven't seen many teams play yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if he's the fastest player in the section. Youngs also added two rushing touchdowns in the game.
Does anyone know how many times a 98-yard TD pass has occured in recent Section 2 history? I don't know much about the history of high school football, but I would like to know when that's happened before. I can't imagine that's a record - if anybody reading this has any stories they'd like to share, e-mail me (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) and I'll post them.
Final score was L'burgh 34, Mohon 12, though the game was actually a lot closer than that. Take away Mohon's late fumble inside Knights territory and add a couple inches on one of their goal-line plays, and the score could have been 28-25. But that's the way the game of football goes.
Mohon is a decent team, and if they play well they could catch a good team off guard and pull off an upset. But they're not close to being playoff contenders. Lansingburgh, on the other hand, is almost certainly one of the top two teams in the class at this point, given lackluster performances last night by Glens Falls and Amsterdam.
The one thing that seemed strange to me about this game was the number of mental mistakes. There were quite a lot of penalties, and not the normal kind like holding - I counted two illegal procedures and four personal fouls in the second quarter alone. And the Knights' secondary seemed very confused at times. If they fix these issues, Lansingburgh will be a great team this year - QB Connor Gallo really impressed me yesterday; he wasn't asked to make many plays, but when he needed to, he delivered - and Youngs is a great player no matter how you slice it. But great teams can't afford to make the number of mistakes the Knights did yesterday, especially once you get towards the end of the season.
(On the flip side, Mohon could be one of the most fun teams to watch this year. They will be playing from behind a lot, and QB Patrick Barnes can really throw the ball. If you get bored by the run-left, run-right, run-middle offense that so many teams like to play at this level, go watch the Warriors play.)
Shaker 20, Colonie 19 - Colonie scored a touchdown with about a minute left in the game to make the score 20-19, but went for the two-point conversion and failed. I don't think this was a bad decision - the extra point at this level is probably only made around 50% of the time (at least early in the year), so you might as well go for the win. But Colonie losing, combined with a lot of the other scores, makes it clear that there is no clear favorite in Class AA.
Columbia 17, Shen 7 - After losing at home last week to Troy, Shen goes down again to Columbia. The road doesn't get much easier for the Plainsmen, as they have to play Saratoga next week. The Blue Devils now are 2-0, beating last year's best teams (LaSalle, Shen) that are now bad. How good are they? Well, they are one of only 4 unbeaten teams remaining, but only time will tell how good they really are.
Saratoga 55, Albany 14 - Saratoga will probably be at the top of my power rankings next week, despite losing to Colonie in Week 1. But Albany is not a very good team this year, so there still are questions about how good the Blue Streaks really are. There aren't really any standout players for Saratoga (yet) - 8 different players scored TDs yesterday for the Blue Streaks.
Queensbury 21, CBA 13 - How good is Queensbury? I have no idea. They've beaten a Nisky team that was supposed to be pretty good but lost to LaSalle yesterday, and a CBA team that hasn't played anybody else in the section. The Spartans running game led by Brad Middleton produced 289 yards and 2 TDs yesterday. Queensbury plays Colonie next Saturday and then Saratoga the week after that, so we should know how good they are soon.
LaSalle 20, Nisky 7 - Nisky will have some trouble generating offense this season. Look for more of these 21-14, 26-12 type games for Nisky down the line. As for LaSalle, they finally put some points on the board after losing 7-6 last week, and they improve to 1-1.
Guilderland 13, Troy 0 - Arguably the most surprising result of the weekend. Troy looked like one of the best teams in the section last week, but they only got 54 yards of total offense in their loss to a surprising 2-0 Dutchmen team. Now Troy is 1-1, and in the pack of "Teams that might be great or might not be that good at all", along with Colonie, LaSalle, Columbia, Guilderland, Queensbury, CBA, Bethlehem and Shaker (am I forgetting anyone?).
BH-BL 42, Glens Falls 7 - Well, I was wrong about Troy being #1 in Class AA. And it looks like I was wrong about Cambridge being #1 in Class C as well (see below). But it looks like I was right about one thing - Burnt Hills is the best team in Class A. Glens Falls came into the game as one of the top four teams in the class (A'dam and L'burgh the other two), and they were playing at home. But they couldn't stop the steamroller that is the Spartans' rushing attack. Kyle Holmes scored three TDs and DJ Moore added two more, and Burnt Hills' great defense held Glens Falls' great ariel attack scoreless (their only points came off a David White kick return).
Amsterdam 30, Scotia 20 - Amsterdam continues to let teams hang around, as the score was 20-13 at the half in Scotia's favor. Scotia is a decent team but not anything close to a contender; the Rams should have won going away. The Rams still are the defending state champs and they still are unbeaten, but they're not going to even make the section title game if they keep playing like this.
Cobleskill 20, Hudson 19 - This was a big game between two title contenders, and it lived up to the hype. Hudson took a 13-0 lead in the first quarter, but Cobleskill came back with two TDs in the fourth to win. Ravena still is probably better than either of these teams.
Hoosick Falls 31, Cambridge 14 - Two great teams squared off last night, and Hoosick Falls was the greater. I still like Cambridge as a sleeper in the playoffs, but they didn't have enough to match Hoosick Falls last night. I haven't seen any Class C action this year, so I can't comment too much on it. QB Rollie O'Brien scored three rushing touchdowns for the Panthers.
Chatham 47, CCHS 7 - Chatham has now outscored their opponents 118-14 this year. Granted, Hoosic Valley and CCHS aren't exactly powerhouses, but still. Josh Hutchinson was the star for Chatham, scoring four TDs.
Voorheesville 7, Schuylerville 3 - Didn't want to say much other than that last year's section champion, Schuylerville, is now 0-2.
Salem 35, Greenwich 34 (2 OT) - Nice win for Salem over a Class C team. I still think Salem will be the best team in a mediocre Class D this year.
Bethlehem 14, Ballston Spa 7
Bishop Maginn 32, Schenectady 12
Canajoharie 27, Rensselaer 8
Fonda 14, Taconic Hills 6
Gloversville 21, AP 14
September 07, 2006
Week 2 Preview
Three huge football games today around the capital region. I'm going to break them down somewhat for you right now.
Class A: BH-BL @ Glens Falls
I've had Burnt Hills at the top of my initial preview and my week 1 power rankings. But that was not an easy choice. One could also justifiably put last year's Class B section winner Lansingburgh, reigning state champ Amsterdam or Glens Falls at #1. Burnt Hills went on the road and beat Gloversville 34-13 last week, while Glens Falls enjoyed a 35-0 shutout of Averill Park. QB Danny Wilhelm led the way for GF with a rushing TD and two more in the air. But the defense was spectacular, allowing no points and putting seven on the board themselves (a Harrison Barton interception returned for a touchdown). Meanwhile, the Burnt Hills ground game was sensational last Friday, with the two-headed monster of Kyle Holmes and DJ Moore combining for 289 yards and four touchdowns. Kris Barone did play very well as quarterback for Gloversville, racking up 270 passing yards and two TDs, but they still only put 13 points on the board. This game should be very interesting on both sides of the ball - BH-BL's vaunted ground game will be the first real test for the GF defense, while Wilhelm's ariel attack will test the Spartans' defense. My pick: BH-BL 33, Glens Falls 20
Class B: Cobleskill @ Hudson
Cobleskill and Hudson are back-to-back on my power rankings (#3 and #4, respectively) after impressive wins over Watervliet and Broadalbin-Perth. With Lansingburgh gone, there's no clear favorite in the class (especially after Ravena almost lost to Hudson Falls last week), and both teams have a realistic shot at the Class B crown. Cobleskill beat Watervliet 44-21 last week, while Hudson blanked Broadalbin-Perth 33-0. Nick DeChristopher and Aaron Christman rushed for a combined four TDs and almost 200 yards for Cobleskill, but Willie Simon scored four touchdowns himself for the Blue Hawks. I can't really find any reason to pick one team over the other, so I'll go with home-field advantage as the deciding factor and take Hudson. My pick: Hudson 27, Cobleskill 26
Class C: Cambridge @ Hoosick Falls
Cambridge is new this year in Class C (jumping up from D last year), but they already earned the top spot on my Class C power rankings. They crushed Salem 35-0 in the season opener. Their spread offense is very impressive (and, by all accounts, a hell of a lot of fun to watch), but it was RB Sam Luke doing most of the scoring for the Indians last Saturday - 184 rushing yards and three TDs. But Hoosick Falls will be near the top of the class this year as well. The Panthers beat Schuylerville, 41-24, in a rematch of last year's class title game. Senior RB Jon Burns ran for 215 yards and three TDs, leading the way for Hoosick Falls. This is another hard-to-predict game - it will be a great test for both defenses and offensive lines, not to mention the running backs themselves. But I think that Cambridge's offense is too versitile to beat here. My pick: Cambridge 42, Hoosick Falls 27
Some other games to keep your eye on this weekend:
Lasalle @ Nisky - will any of the middle-of-the-pack AA teams emerge as a title contender?
Chatham @ CCHS - will CCHS recover from a bad loss, or will Chatham put up 71 points again?
Mohon @ Lansingburgh - L'burgh should win this game, but Mohon is not a bad team.
September 05, 2006
Full NFL Preview
And, because you probably don't want to go through all of those, I'll do a quick recap:
Teams that will be better than you think:
Kansas City (because people think they're going to bust this year)
Teams that will be worse than you think:
Baltimore (not sure where that bandwagon came from)
Pittsburgh (and that was before Roethlisburger's emergency appendectomy)
NY Giants (the schedule's too tough for them to make the playoffs)
Philadelphia (some people really like this team for some reason)
Seattle (has to fight the SB loser curse and the Madden curse)
So here's what I think the playoffs will look like, round-by-round:
#5 Kansas City 32
#4 New England 21
#6 Jacksonville 13
#3 Cincy 30
#5 Tampa Bay 24
#4 Chicago 14
#6 Washington 21
#3 Arizona 24
#5 Kansas City 13
#1 Indianapolis 17
#3 Cincinatti 31
#2 Denver 30
#5 Tampa Bay 31
#1 Carolina 17
#3 Arizona 30
#2 Dallas 13
AFC Championship Game:
Cincy 41, Indy 21
NFC Championship Game:
Tampa 27, Arizona 17
Super Bowl XLI:
Cincy 31, Tampa 13
But, as I said,
The Dontrelle Willis Corollary
Let's take a look at last year's NL Cy Young. Chris Carpenter won the award, with a 21-5 record and a 2.83 ERA. Dontrelle Willis came in second with a 22-10 record and a 2.63 ERA. Aren't Willis' numbers more impressive?
One might argue that, although Willis had one more win, he also had five more losses. But, historically, wins have been the most important category in Cy Young voting (not saying it's a good thing, just saying it's true), and voters usually don't look at the number of losses. And Willis' Marlins finished barely above .500, while Carpenter's Cardinals won 100 games. So Willis was pretty obviously the better pitcher.
One could also argue that Carpenter is more well-liked than Willis. But that would be false, as Carpenter was one of the most overlooked pitchers in baseball until last year, while D-Train was arguably the most popular player in the sport during his brilliant rookie season of '03.
So why did Carpenter win the Cy Young award? Here's my theory, and I'm calling it the Dontrelle Willis Corollary in honor of the pitcher last year who proved it true. In early August last year, the Cy Young in the NL was a two-horse race - Carpenter and Roger Clemens. Carpenter had a 16-4 record and a 2.24 ERA; Clemens had an 11-4 record and a 1.45 ERA. Willis had a 3.03 ERA and a 14-7 record; very good numbers but not nearly good as the others'. So nobody was following him in the Cy Young chase.
What happened? Willis pitched great for the rest of the year, posting a 1.72 ERA and an 8-3 record the rest of the way. But because people were only following Carpenter and Clemens, Willis' run went almost unnoticed, while everyone saw that Carpenter had the better last month or so than Clemens. And the main problem here was that because every talk show host and baseball writer was forced to pick their winner in August, everyone narrowed down the candidates to just two (bolded because that sentence summarizes the point of this post). I doubt this was a big problem before the big media explosion and the Internet, and I think the only solution is to stop predicting winners in August.
You want another example? Try the other league. I'll leave out most of the stats, but Bartolo Colon (21-8, 3.48 ERA) won the award, while Johan Santana (16-7, 2.87 ERA) came in third. Santana pitched great in August and September, so his stats went unnoticed by most people. In August, the only two decent candidates were Colon and Mariano Rivera, so everybody watched only those two (and of course Colon won because relievers never win).
Now, under normal circumstances, Colon might have won anyways, due to his inflated win total. But the voting would have been very close. Last year, Colon recieved 17 first-place votes to Santana's 3. Just another example of the Dontrelle Willis Corollary.
This usually doesn't happen with MVP awards, for one reason: MVPs are almost always from playoff teams, so if a team makes a late run at the playoffs, people will notice and look for an MVP from that team. Case in point: The 2004 AL MVP race. Going into the last two weeks of the season, it was a three-horse race, with Vlad Guerrero, Gary Sheffield, and Manny Ramirez the three candidates (and David Ortiz a close fourth*). But over the last two weeks, Vlad put up astronomical numbers, taking the Angels on his back and propelling them to the playoffs (by one game over Oakland). The voters saw Anaheim's surge over the last two weeks and saw what Vlad had done, and he won the MVP by a comfortable margin. So MVP awards usually are an exception (though Vlad was in that race even before his hot stretch).
So who could be victimized by the Dontrelle Willis Corollary this year? The biggest race I see is the AL MVP. It was a two-horse race, Ortiz and Jeter, up through the middle of August. Then the Yankees swept the Sox, and it became Jeter's MVP to lose. I am convinced that about one-third of the writers will vote for Jeter based solely on the fact that he was the top candidate two weeks ago, no matter what happens over the last month of the season. Even if Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, or anybody else puts up great numbers, they will be fighting long odds to get an MVP trophy.
Another, lesser-known race: the AL Cy Young. This probably isn't a great example; neither pitcher plays in a big media market, so this race isn't being followed my most of America. But, ever since Liriano got hurt, the AL Cy Young has been a two-man race - Johan Santana and Roy Halladay. If someone else (say, a Chien-Ming Wang or a Justin Verlander) gets hot over the last month, they may be overlooked. (Though I can't see anyone overtaking Santana as the best pitcher in the AL).
Any thoughts on this? Am I crazy? I haven't seen anyone else with this view, so I'd like to know what you think.
*Quick anecdote on this - I brought up Ortiz' name in MVP discussion with my friend as the season was ending, and he said, "Ortiz? He can't win the MVP. He's not clutch." Then, in the playoffs and the years to come, Ortiz became arguably the most clutch hitter the game has ever seen. True story.
September 04, 2006
Football Power Rankings: Week 1
1. Troy 1-0 (up 1)
2. Saratoga 0-1 (down 1)
3. Colonie 1-0 (up 2)
4. CBA 0-1 (down 1)
5. Shen 0-1 (down 1)
I still think that, by the end of the season, Saratoga will be the best team in the section. But they lost last week, and Troy won a big game at Shen. Troy should finish the season undefeated; they don't really have any tough games left on their schedule and nobody else really seems good enough to go unbeaten. Colonie moves up two spots due to their big win over Saratoga, but I don't think they were the better team. CBA lost, but to a pretty good section three team, so I don't know how good they will be. Shen did not look good against Troy.
6. Bethlehem 1-0 (up 2)
7. LaSalle 0-1 (down 1)
8. Ballston Spa 1-0 (up 3)
9. Queensbury 1-0 (up 3)
10. Columbia 1-0 (up 3)
11. Niskayuna 0-1 (down 3)
12. Albany 0-1 (down 2)
13. Shaker 0-1 (down 3)
14. Guilderland 1-0 (up 1)
15. Schenectady 0-1 (down 1)
I don't want to move anybody too much, as they only played one game. But it's obvious that some teams aren't as good as we thought. Bethlehem gets the sixth spot by default (my #6, #7, and #9 teams last week all lost), and LaSalle stays at seven despite falling to Columbia. I still think LaSalle will be better than they were last week. Ballston Spa, Queensbury, and Columbia are the big movers after beating Albany, Nisky, and LaSalle, respectively. Shaker should not have lost to Guilderland, but should still be the better team over the course of the season.
1. Burnt Hills 1-0
2. Lansingburgh 1-0 (up 1)
3. Glens Falls 1-0 (up 1)
4. Amsterdam 1-0 (down 2)
5. Bishop Maginn 0-1 (up 1)
I'm keeping Burnt Hills at the top of my rankings after their 34-13 defeat of Gloversville. Lansingburgh entered Class A with a bang on Friday, taking apart Scotia 52-8. And Glens Falls blanked AP, 35-0. Amsterdam probably should still be higher than fourth, but they barely squeaked by Maginn, 13-12. I know Maginn will be good this year (hence the #5 ranking), but the Rams were not impressive at all in that game.
6. Mohonasen 1-0 (down 1)
7. Gloversville 0-1
8. Averill Park 0-1
9. Scotia 0-1
10. South Glens Falls 0-1
Mohon moves down through no fault of their own; but Maginn was impressive enough against Amsterdam to jump in front of them. The last three - AP, Scotia, and SGF - all could be put in basically any order; each was beaten badly by a much better team. So I stuck with my original rankings, as there was no reason to do otherwise.
1. Ravena 1-0
2. Hudson Falls 1-0 (up 1)
3. Cobleskill 1-0 (down 1)
4. Hudson 1-0 (up 1)
5. Albany Academy 1-0 (down 1)
Ravena beat Hudson Falls, 35-33, to stay in command of the class. But HF moves up for challenging the prohibitive favorite in the class, despite the fact that everyone else at the top of the class won. Hudson shut out Broadalbin-Perth 33-0, while Academy beat Class C Watervliet 26-14.
6. Johnstown 1-0 (up 2)
7. Fonda 0-1 (down 1)
8. Schalmont 1-0 (down 1)
9. Cohoes 0-1 (up 2)
10. Taconic Hills 0-1 (down 1)
11. Broadalbin-Perth 0-1 (down 1)
Johnstown moves up after a convincing win over Taconic Hills; Fonda lost a close one to Albany Academy. Schalmont should have dominated more than they did, and Cohoes takes the 9-spot over the other two because their offense actually put some points up on the board.
1. Cambridge 1-0
2. Chatham 1-0
3. Hoosick Falls 1-0 (up 1)
4. Schuylerville 0-1 (down 1)
5. Watervliet 0-1
There's a big drop-off now after #3; Schuylerville and Watervliet both lost big last week in games that should have been close. Cambridge keeps the top spot even after Chatham hung 71 on Hoosic Valley; I know Cambridge played a Class D team, but Hoosic Valley was playing their first game of football ever. Hoosick Falls was very impressive in beating Schuylerville last week.
6. Lake George 1-0 (up 2)
7. Stillwater 1-0 (up 3)
8. Canajoharie 0-1 (down 1)
9. Catholic Central 0-1 (down 3)
10. Granville 1-0 (down 1)
Stillwater's win over Canajoharie and Voorheesville's win over CCHS make the middle of this class very hard to rank. Lake George was the highest-ranked team to win last weekend, but I think they migh tbe a little too high at six. Granville moves down after an unconvincing win at Whitehall due to the impressive win by Stillwater. And, as I said earlier, it's only week 1.
11. Voorheesville 1-0 (up 1)
12. Mechanicville 1-0 (down 1)
13. Greenwich 0-1
14. Tamarac 1-0 (up 3)
15. Coxsackie 0-1 (down 1)
16. Corinth 0-1 (down 1)
17. Hoosic Valley 1-0 (down 1)
It isn't really fair that Mechanicville beats Greenwich fairly comfortably (38-28) and then gets moved down, but those are the breaks. Voorheesville upsed Catholic Central in a convincing manner. Tamarac realistically is probably not better than Coxsackie or Corinth, but I wanted to give them some love after their first home win in five years (even if it was against Bishop Gibbons). And sorry Hoosic Valley, but anytime you give up 71 points, you're going in the basement the next day.
1. Salem 0-1
2. Fort Edward 1-0
3. Rensselaer 1-0 (up 1)
4. Warrensburg 0-1 (down 1)
5. Whitehall 0-1
6. Bishop Gibbons 0-1
I know that FE beat a Class C team, and that Salem lost to a C team. But Cambridge is probably the best team in that class, and Salem-Cambridge is a rivlary game (so Cambridge was ready for them). I still think Salem is the best team in this class. Whitehall played an impressive game against Granville, but the other four teams were impressive as well.
Big games this week:
Cambridge @ Hoosick Falls (Fri)
Burnt Hills @ Glens Falls (Fri)
Cobleskill @ Hudson (Fri)
September 03, 2006
Odds and Ends
Mechanicville 38, Greenwich 28
Queensbury 26, Niskayuna 14
Stillwater 20, Canajoharie 6
Voorheesville 34, CCHS 20
Albany Academy 26, Fonda 25
Granville 18, Whitehall 15
Ravena 35, Hudson Falls 33
Ballston Spa 22, Albany 10
Albany named Troy Turner their new varsity basketball coach sometime in the past few days. Turner should be a fine coach for the program, but it was kind of a surprise that the JV coach Tim Black didn't get the job. I don't know enough about either to have an opinion on whether the right decision was made or not.
Yesterday I was going to mention that Notre Dame had no shot at a national title this year (in college football) because of their tough schedule and the fact that they have questions defensively. Well, their defense showed up last night in a 14-10 win at Georgia Tech. But the fact that they struggled to pull out that win doesn't inspire confidence that they will be able to win against Penn State, Michigan, and at Michigan State in the coming three weeks. And even if they get through that stretch, they still have games against UCLA and at USC. Sorry Irish fans, but you will have to wait until next year.
The same principle applies to Ohio State and any of the SEC teams. So who does that leave in the national title game? I don't like Texas because I don't think they can replace Vince Young. And I think West Virginia is a little overrated. So I'm picking a USC-Florida State national title game, with FSU coming out on top. (I have no idea why, but I looked at the top ten teams and picked the two with the easiest schedules. That's pretty much all the thought I game it).
I'm now rooting for the Padres (currently one game ahead of Philly) in the NL wild-card race. Why? If they win, they play the Mets in the NLDS, which would be an awesome series. The pitching matchups would be incredible:
Game 1: Jake Peavy vs Pedro Martinez
Game 2: David Wells vs Tom Glavine
Game 3: Chris Young vs El Duque
Game 4: Peavy vs John Maine
Game 5: Wells vs Pedro
Wouldn't that be great? Buster Olney brings it up in his blog today, but only if you're an ESPN Insider.
Coming Tomorrow: The first installment of my HS Football Power Rankings. And I'll have a full NFL preview up later this week.
September 02, 2006
There were some great football games last night around the Capital Region. Unfortunately, I didn't go to any of them. I went to the Columbia-LaSalle game yesterday, an ugly 7-6 affair won by Columbia. I had to leave midway through the second quarter, so I didn't even see either touchdown. But I will summarize what I did see:
It was mostly a back-and-forth game - I believe there was only one first down recorded by either team in the first quarter. Both teams' running backs seemed very small (both were listed at around 5'6, 145), and LaSalle's main RB Marquis Terrell is just a sophmore.
The main problem for the Cadets early on was their special teams play. They were terrible on special teams. Columbia ran back the opening kickoff to about midfield, and then LaSalle fumbled the Blue Devils' first punt (but recovered). Columbia got two more punts inside the LaSalle 10-yard-line before I left; the first one looked misplayed, the second was a lucky bounce. The LaSalle punter shanked a punt as well in the first quarter (though they got a man free and almost blocked a punt in the second). In a defensive battle like this, field position and special teams are extremely important, and that's probably why LaSalle lost.
LaSalle's QB, junior Jered Henkel, wasn't extremely impressive - he made a few nice throws and ended up with somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 yards, but he was overthrowing his recievers a lot as well - but he often didn't have much time to throw. The running backs got nothing going during the part of the game I saw; three or four guys would be on them as soon as they crossed the line of scrimmage.
This was a minor upset - I had Columbia ranked ahead of only Schenectady and Guilderland in yesterday's preview - but nobody really knows what to make of these first-week games.
Colonie 27, Saratoga 21 (OT) - Colonie upsets the prohibitive favorites behind the stellar QB play of junior Tom Duff. Duff threw for over 150 yards and two TDs. I still think Saratoga is my favorite to win the section title, but I'm not so sure (especially given how impressive Troy looked yesterday). And Colonie would probably jump to third in my rankings, ahead of CBA and Shen (Maybe I'll do that - a weekly power ranking post. Sounds pretty cool). Full Story
Troy 19, Shen 8 - Troy jumped out to a 19-0 first-half lead and held on to give Shen its first regular-season loss since 2001. Troy now has to be the favorite to get the #1 seed heading into the playoffs - their toughest games left are both at home (CBA and LaSalle), and they don't have to play Colonie or Saratoga. They could easily go undefeated, and Saratoga now already has a loss. Full Story
Bethlehem 33, Schenectady 20 - Schenectady's offense finally got clicking in the fourth quarter, scoring 20 points, but it wasn't enough. Bethlehem looked very good offensively, though I think that might tell more about the Schenectady defense. Dan Unright rushed for 153 yards on 15 carries for the Eagles.
Guilderland 26, Shaker 13 - Naturally, the team I had ranked last ends the weekend with a win, while the team I had ranked first opens with a loss. Go figure. Shaker's not really a title contender either, but this is a nice win for Guilderland.
Henninger 34, CBA 28 - I don't really know what to make of this game - Henninger is a section 3 team, and I don't have any idea how good they are - but putting 28 points on the board is a good sign for the Brothers' offense.
Burnt Hills 34, Gloversville 13 - The one prediction that people seemed to disagree with most yesterday was my picking Burnt Hills to win the Class A title. Well, they made me look good yesterday. The two BH-BL running backs (Kyle Holmes, David Moore) ran for a combined 289 yards and four touchdowns. QB Kris Barone looked impressive for the Huskies, but their defense couldn't slow down Burnt Hills.
Amsterdam 13, Bishop Maginn 12 - The defending state champs squeak by Maginn, with help from a couple late interceptions. The play-calling on the Amsterdam side wasn't great, according to people who watched the game, and they should have won by more than one point. Amsterdam should get better, but Maginn will be a team nobody wants to play.
Mohonasen 34, South Glens Falls 7 - SGF seems like the weakest team in this tough Class A division, and Mohon got lucky enough to play them early. Pat Barnes looked good at QB for Mohon.
Glens Falls 35, Averill Park 0 - GF established themselves as a legitamite contender in Class A with a rout of AP. Their wideouts played very well, seeming to not miss all-state WR Jimmer Fredette at all.
Lansingburgh 52, Scotia 8 - Lansingburgh gets their Class A career off to a great start by demolishing Scotia. Class A is going to be crazy this year.
Hudson 33, Broadalbin-Perth 0 - Hudson was a team that some people thought I should have ranked higher than fifth in the class, and yesterday's result vindicates that viewpoint. Willie Simon ran for four TDs and 153 yards for the Blue Hawks.
Schalmont 14, Cohoes 12 - I don't really know what to say about this game. Ryan Donadio ran for 143 yards and returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
Johnstown 13, Taconic Hills 2 - Neither team should contend for the class title this year, but Johnstown continues to establish themselves as a program on the rise.
Cobleskill 44, Watervliet 21 - Cobleskill is a legitimate contender for the Class B crown this year. Watervliet could win the Class C crown as well, but they'll have to start playing well - Class C is almost as loaded as Class A is this year. Nick DeChristopher and Aaron Christman combined for just under 200 yards rushing and four touchdowns.
Hoosick Falls 41, Schuylerville 24 - The two-time defending champs fell yesterday at the hands of the Panthers. Jon Burns rushed for 215 yards and 3 TDs, and QB Rollie O'Brien ran for 85 yards as well. Hoosick makes a nice statement that they are for real this year.
Chatham 71, Hoosic Valley 7 - This is Hoosic Valley's first year with a football team - not a good way to open your career. I usually don't agree with people who advocate point limits and penalize coaches who run up the score, but nobody should score 71 points in a high school game.
Lake George 16, Warrensburg 7 - Lake George seems to be on the rise this year, but they should beat Class D Warrensburg by at least double digit points if they want to compete in Class C.
Tamarac 20, Bishop Gibbons 0 - Tamarac gets their first home win in five years. So I won't ruin their parade by mentioning that BG is easily the worst team in the section and that Tamarac will still probably finish in the basement of Class C.
Renssalaer 13, Coxsackie 6 - Coxsackie is one of the weakest teams in Class C, and they fall at the hands of Class D Renssalaer. I still don't really think the Rams have enough to win the D crown.
Games to watch for today:
Salem @ Cambridge
Ravena @ Hudson Falls
Catholic Central @ Voorheesville