Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s Jack Guba, center, eludes a Gloversville defender during last Friday’s home opener.
Any doubt surrounding the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake football team ended the moment Thomas Ruppel caught the opening kickoff.
Ruppel returned the kick 85 yards for the first of five consecutive touchdowns by the Spartans in a 36-6 victory over Gloversville in last Friday’s home opener.
“We were all pleased with how we played,” said BH-BL coach Matt Shell. “We had a good preseason. We had some nervous moments as to how it would all turn out, but they played well.”
BH-BL fans were likely wondering what sort of team the Spartans (1-0) would be following the graduation of a talented senior class that reached the state Class A semifinals three years in a row and two state championship game appearances. But with solid contributions from several newcomers, BH-BL eased past a Gloversville team that had its sights set on upending the Spartans.
Quarterback Ryan McDonnell showed off his arm with a pair of touchdown passes and his leg by making four of his five extra-point attempts. The first scoring strike went to Mark Peltier for 14 yards, and the second went to Tom Iwinski for six yards.
“We were happy with how he played,” Shell said of McDonnell, who replaced Keaton Flint at quarterback this season. “The early touchdown pass was a nice read of the defense, and he delivered a good ball [to Peltier].”
Daniel Porter contributed 122 rushing yards on seven carries, and Ruppel added a 6-yard touchdown run for BH-BL.
“As a sophomore, he really came into his own a little bit in this game,” Shell said of Porter. “He’s a big kid with really good speed.”
The Spartans travel to Amsterdam Friday to face a Rams team that is coming off a 29-7 victory over Queensbury last weekend.
“Amsterdam is traditionally an outstanding team,” said Shell. “They have some really good kids coming back this season. We have to be ready to play.”
In other football action this weekend, Shenendehowa travels to Guilderland and Ballston Spa goes to Schenectady in a pair of Class AA contests, while Saratoga hosts Bethlehem and Saratoga Central Catholic welcomes Cambridge to East Side Recreation Field.
Ballston Spa (1-0) is coming off a 22-18 victory over Guilderland last Friday in a game that could have easily gone in favor of the visiting Dutchmen. Guilderland led 18-7 entering the fourth quarter, despite having two touchdowns called back due to penalties.
The Scotties pulled within three points when Matt McDonald scored on a 25-yard touchdown run and John DeGuardi threw a two-point conversion pass. Then late in the fourth quarter, McDonald caught a tipped DeGuardi pass and raced to Guilderland’s 27-yard line. DeGuardi scored on the next play from scrimmage to give the Scotties the lead for good.
Shen and Saratoga had no problems in their season openers last Friday. Shen (1-0) rushed for 550 yards in a 50-0 victory over Bethlehem, while Saratoga (1-0) cruised past Albany 40-6.
Tony Fusco led Shen’s ground game with 208 yards and two touchdowns. Jared Allen came off the bench in the second half and scored on runs of 69 and 42 yards.
Jesse Spencer had a big game for Saratoga against Albany. He rushed for two touchdowns and returned the opening kickoff of the third quarter 77 yards for a score. Quarterback Brett Merriman also ran for two touchdowns and passed for a third.
Friday night’s game against Cambridge marks the first home appearance for Saratoga Catholic (0-1) since it reinstated varsity football for the second time. The program returned to the varsity level in 2008 after more than two decades in mothballs, but it dropped out last year due to a lack of players.
The Saints fell to Lake George 40-12 in their first game last Friday. Andrew Hadeka scored both of Saratoga Catholic’s touchdowns.