The first game of the Joe Whipple era at Schalmont didn't end well for the Sabres.
Albany Academy scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter two in the final five minutes to pull away for a 35-18 victory over Schalmont in last Friday's Section II, Class B football opener in Rotterdam.
"I thought that we started off strong," said Whipple, who became Schalmont's coach after guiding Bishop Gibbons the past couple of seasons. "Mentally, we weren't as strong as we should have been. The mistakes that we made were mental ones."
The Sabres trotted out their new spread offense under the guidance of tailback-turned-quarterback Vincent Gallo, and it worked well for the most part. Schalmont gained 388 yards, with Gallo leading the way with 192 rushing yards and 112 passing yards. Most of those passing yards came on an 80-yard touchdown pass to Dashawn Banks late in the third quarter that gave the Sabres an 18-14 lead.
"I was happy with Vincent's passing performance because we wanted to come out and pass 10 to 15 times so he could get his feet wet," said Whipple.
The trouble was Schalmont turned the ball over several times, which helped Albany Academy stay in the game until it took the lead for good early in the fourth quarter on Hunter McCarthy's 93-yard touchdown pass to Connor Ferris. Tailback Zay Richardson then scored on runs of 14 and seven yards to seal the victory.
"Defensively, we did well up until the end of the fourth quarter when our guys didn't do what they needed to do," said Whipple.
Still, Whipple was pleased with the progress his players showed in learning a new offensive scheme.
"I think we accomplished some goals other than winning," said Whipple. "We had a success rate of 75 percent in running our plays."
The Sabres return to action Friday when they host Lansingburgh in a cross-divisional game. Lansingburgh is 1-0 in its first year back at the Class B level following a 35-0 victory over defending Sectional champion Hudson Falls last Saturday.
"We just want to show progress [against Lansingburgh], go into Week 3 with minimal mistakes and win our first divisional game because the divisional games are the ones that count," said Whipple.""