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Time to put on the pads

The class AA football landscape has been changed again.

With Queensbury moving up from class A, there are now 15 teams in class AA. That has precipitated a return to the three-division system following one season of two-division play.

We would prefer a two-division system, but there were a lot of factors that went into going to a three-division format, said Section II commissioner Gary VanDerzee. "There were rivalries, the number of games in divisional play and geography.

"We'll revisit the divisional format after this year," he added.

Queensbury joins a division that includes last year's Section II runner-up Saratoga, Sectional semifinalist Shaker, Guilderland and Niskayuna. Shenendehowa, Colonie, Bethlehem, Ballston Spa and Columbia are in another division, while the five class AA Big 10 schools " Christian Brothers Academy, Albany, Schenectady, Troy and defending Sectional champion LaSalle " are in the third division.

"It's going to be different," said Queensbury head coach John Irion. "I think the double A teams " as compared to the single A teams " have maybe fewer weaknesses and more depth."

"I have no problem with any of the teams in our division because we can play with any of them," said Saratoga coach Blase Iuliano.

With the three-division format comes a new system for determining playoff teams. The top two teams in each division earn automatic berths, and two at-large teams will be selected from the eight teams that finish either third or fourth in their divisions. Last year, the top four teams from each of the two divisions earned playoff berths.

Here is a look at this year's class AA field.

Albany Falcons

Head coach: Joe Burke

Outlook: The Falcons will be looking to improve on a 5-4 overall record from last season as they begin their season against Ballston Spa Saturday.

Jermain Schultz will quarterback the offense, while running backs Everett Tune, Craig VanAlstyne and Deon Wilson handle the ground game. Schultz will also have seven wide receivers and two tight ends on the roster to pass to.

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