Niskayuna poses challenge for Shaker

The Shaker football team is in rare company these days.

The Blue Bison are one of three remaining undefeated Class AA teams in Section II. The others Shenendehowa and Troy were expected to be at the head of the class.

"People [in the community] are excited, and we have our homecoming game this week, so that adds to the excitement," said Shaker coach Greg Sheeler.

Friday's home game against Niskayuna (2-1) will go a long way to determining whether Shaker (3-0) will have a shot at the Liberty Division title. The Silver Warriors are looking to rebound from a 25-22 loss to previously winless LaSalle last week, and Sheeler said Niskayuna has the horses to do it.

"Niskayuna is the fastest team we're going to see all year," said Sheeler. "Man for man, they're very fast, so we have to be prepared for that."

Shaker has its own weapons it uses, especially quarterback Ben Capeless. The senior has thrown for nearly 400 yards and five touchdowns in leading the Blue Bison to an undefeated start.

"I think Ben's always had the talent. He's just making really good decisions with the ball," said Sheeler.

Capeless' favorite target has been junior wide receiver Adrian Valentino. The two have connected for four touch-downs " half of which have been more than 60 yards in length. One came early in last Thursday's 35-14 victory over Bethlehem when Capeless found Valentino wide open for a 68-yard touchdown.

"It definitely provides a spark for us when we see those plays being made," said Sheeler. "Adrian Valentino has done a great job of going down the field and making those plays."

Valentino is one of several younger players that have stepped up for Shaker this season. Junior tailback Kyle Bernard and sophomore tailback Ryan Griffin have also made significant contributions to the offense while senior Conor Alund continues to recover from a preseason injury. Valentino has filled in for Christian Sherwin, who also suffered an injury during the preseason.

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