The 2007 Guilderland football team is going where no Guilderland football team has gone before.
With last Friday's 21-7 class AA semifinal victory over Ballston Spa in Guilderland, the Dutchmen clinched their first berth in a Section II final. Guilderland plays LaSalle in Friday's Super Bowl at Colonie Central High School.
It's really exciting, said Guilderland coach Dan Penna. "We know we have to take it one game at a time and treat each game the same, but this is exciting."
To understand how much history the Dutchmen (8-1) have had to overcome to get to this point, consider the following:
From 1996 through 2005, Guilderland had one winning season
Guilderland hadn't won a division title since 1971
Guilderland hadn't won a playoff game since 1996
"Credit the kids. Besides being great players, they're great kids," said Penna. "It's been really impressive what they've accomplished."
In last Friday's semifinal game, the Dutchmen overcame a rainy night and a struggling offense with stellar defense. Guilderland held Ballston Spa's three-tailback running game to 113 net yards and one touchdown, four weeks after the Scotties blitzed the Dutchmen in a 32-27 victory, and Andrew Smith intercepted two passes to seal the victory.
"I think we did a better job of following our keys," said Penna. "This (Ballston Spa) team does a very good job of running the option, and once they get to the outside, they can hurt you. We did a very good job of holding our lanes and stopping their big plays."
Guilderland's offense made the most of the opportunities it had. Tailback Paul Booker capped a first quarter series with a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Dutchmen a 7-0 lead. Smith, the team's quarterback, then took off on a 14-yard scoring run in the second quarter to double Guilderland's advantage.