A big first quarter proved to be the difference for the Shenendehowa football team.
The Plainsmen jumped out to a 14-0 lead and maintained that two-touchdown advantage the rest of the way in a 27-14 victory over Shaker last Friday in Latham.
The opening game is usually a tough one because you don't know anything about your opponent, said Shen coach Brent Steuerwald. "You can only go on reputation."
Suhayb Banks came up big a couple of times for the Plainsmen in the first quuarter. First, the senior tailback broke free for a 50-yard touchdown run to put Shen on the scoreboard. Then, he intercepted a pass to stall a Shaker drive. On the ensuing drive, Bronson Greene scored on a 22-yard run to put the Plainsmen ahead 14-0.
Shaker shook off its shaky start and played Shen evenly the rest of the way. Anthony Pascarella rushed for nearly 120 yards and a touchdown, and quarterback Ben Capeless threw for another score.
"I'm very pleased with this team," said Shaker coach Dennis Bender. "We lost a couple of key players, and guys stepped up. The way we faced up to what is likely the No. 1 team in the double A's and fought them to the end is great."
The Blue Bison are hoping to carry the momentum they gained by outscoring Shen 14-13 in the second half of last weekend's opener into Saturday's game at Albany, which is coming off a 47-20 loss to Schenectady.
"I think the confidence grew in these kids, and we can't wait to get back on the practice field and prepare for Albany," said Bender.
Meanwhile, Shen opens its refurbished Steuerwald Stadium Friday by hosting Schenectady.
"That's a very exciting thing. The stadium is very beautiful," said Steuerwald. "Besides the new field, there's a new eight-lane track, a new concession stand, a thousand new seats in the bleachers and a new scoreboard."