The first week of divisional play in Class AA football may go a long way to determining who gets the No. 1 seed for the Section II playoffs.
Two of the top contenders in the Empire Division clash Thursday when Shenendehowa travels up the Northway to face Ballston Spa.
We're certainly ready, said Ballston Spa coach John Bowen. "We were able to give some of our guys a rest [during last Friday's 61-13 victory over Bethlehem] and we're hoping to be ready to run on Thursday."
"They've got a great quarterback [Mark Seager]. We're aware of what he brings to the table," said Shen coach Brent Steuerwald. "We have to do our best to take away what they do best."
What Ballston Spa (2-0) has been able to do best in its two victories is run the football. The Scotties amassed 654 rushing yards through the first two games, with Seager leading a balanced attack with 190 yards.
Shen (2-0) is no slouch when it comes to running the ball, either. The Plainsmen racked up nearly 600 yards on the ground in their two wins, including last Friday's 28-27 thriller against Schenectady at Steuerwald Stadium.
"I think you're going to see a game that is similar to [last] Friday night [at Shen]," said Bowen. "Shen is a patient, running team, and they don't get tackled easily. We're going to have to use our speed to get to them."
Both teams have several players who can run the ball, too. Besides Seager, Ballston Spa relies on a group of tailbacks including Josh Fabian, Kyle Warmt and Nick Tubolino, while Shen counters with Bronson Greene, John Craig and Cody Case-Therrien, who stepped in for an injured Suhayb Banks and rushed for more than 100 yards and the go-ahead touchdown and two-point conversion against Schenectady.