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Sports Archives The Altamont Enterprise, October 22, 2009
Carrying winning streak into sectionals
By Jordan J. Michael
VOORHEESVILLE The Blackbird football team keeps finding the winning way, week in and week out.
Voorheesville held off a determined Taconic Hills team for a 24-to-22 win at home on Saturday afternoon. The victory pushed the Blackbirds’ winning streak to six games, as the team gets ready for sectionals this weekend.
Saturday’s win over the Titans wasn’t pretty, but Head Coach Joe Sapienza will take it. Voorheesville already had clinched a playoff spot, and Taconic Hills tried to play spoiler.
“That’s part of the problem; they were already eliminated from the post-season,” said Sapienza after the game. “Taconic is one of the better teams we’ve played so far and I think they could be competitive if they were in the playoff field.”
Sapienza couldn’t remember the last time his football team was 6-1. “It has been a while since we were at this point,” he said. “We haven’t played great every game, but we refuse to lose by playing gritty.”
Junior running back Max Schuster may have had one of the “grittiest” moments of the Blackbird season when he single-handedly moved the ball 75 yards with a little help from the offensive line in the second half. Schuster began the drive with a 50-yard break and ended it with an eight-yard touchdown run to give Voorheesville a 17-to-6 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The scoring sequence only took about two minutes and Schuster was the only player that touched the ball, besides quarterback Ryan Duncan, who gave him the handoffs.
“Coach Sapienza planned that drive out for me to take it and run,” said Schuster. “I just followed the great blocking by the line. The offensive line and I have built a strong relationship this season.”
“The offensive line did a good job, but Schuster is a horse,” said Sapienza. “That was the epitome of team football right there.”
The only scoring of the first half came from a Joe Cillis field goal that gave the Blackbirds a 3-to-0 lead at halftime. Chris McKay gave the Titans a 6-to-3 advantage when he broke a couple tackles for a 19-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Voorheesville’s James Currier took the ensuing kickoff 79 yards all the way to the house for a score and the Blackbirds were up, 10-6. The exciting return gave the offense a jump-start that it badly needed.
“We were down in the beginning and I wanted to get us back up,” Currier said. “We haven’t had a run back like that in a while. It was a thrilling play.”
McKay made a huge catch on a fourth down play to bring Taconic Hills down to the five-yard line with eight minutes left in the game. Nolan Boice ran it in for a touchdown and then added two points to cut Voorheesville’s lead to 17 to 14.
Schuster added another touchdown run, this time from 15 yards out, with 3:44 remaining and the Blackbirds looked to be in control, 24-14.
However, quarterback Nick Warren made several completions for the Titans on the next drive and finally hit McKay for a nine-yard touchdown pass with 1:22 left in regulation. Voorheesville was only ahead by two points.
“I hate to see my defense give up a quick drive like that,” said Sapienza. “We have to have more poise on defense if we want to keep teams from scoring in the playoffs.”
Schuster had 22 rushes for 173 yards and Currier had three catches for 50 yards. Ryan Duncan threw for 80 yards.
Voorheesville travels to Cambridge this Saturday at 1 p.m. for the first round of sectional play. The Indians also have a 6-1 record.
Schuster told The Enterprise that Coach Matt Fiato called this year a “180-degree turnaround” for the Blackbirds after a 2-7 season in 2008.
“We had a very productive off-season and that got us ready to win,” said Currier.
“We can’t afford to come out flat,” Schuster said.