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High school football: Class AA football preview

Change comes to Shen and Colonie, but list of contenders remain the same

New Shenendehowa coach Brian Clawson, second from right, is looking to guide the Plainsmen to another Section II Class AA football title with the assistance of several returning players including, from left, quarterback Ryan Buss, lineman Christopher Stewart and running back Lucas Buckley. Shen begins its first season without longtime coach Brent Steuerwald Friday at Albany.

New Shenendehowa coach Brian Clawson, second from right, is looking to guide the Plainsmen to another Section II Class AA football title with the assistance of several returning players including, from left, quarterback Ryan Buss, lineman Christopher Stewart and running back Lucas Buckley. Shen begins its first season without longtime coach Brent Steuerwald Friday at Albany. Photo by Rob Jonas.

Liberty Division

Colonie Garnet Raiders

Head coach: Bill Roemer

Key veterans: Austin DiCerbo (junior OL/DL), Devon Edwards (junior QB/DB), Jayson Gayle (senior RB/DB), Kevon Johnson (junior RB/LB), Jayson Johnson (senior OL/DL)

Outlook: First-year coach Roemer has worked his players hard, as he tries to guide the Garnet Raiders out of the Liberty Division basement. “We’ve done a lot in the off-season -- a lot more than Colonie has done over the past couple of years,” said Roemer. “Hopefully, that will close the gap (between Colonie and the rest of the division).”

Columbia Blue Devils

Head coach: Craig Cavotta

Key veterans: Dominic Desmonie (senior OL/DL), Jake Faas (junior RB/DB), Joe Freemantle (senior OL/DL), Andrew Gawrys (senior OL/DL), Anthony Gullo (senior OL/DL), Austin Lobban (senior QB/LB), AJ Maney (senior WR/DB/K), Kenny Mathieu (senior RB/DB), El Shaddia-Gilmore (senior OL/DL), Chris Smith (senior RB/LB), Anthony South (senior RB/LB)

Outlook: After reaching the Sectional finals last year, the Blue Devils are looking to go farther this time. “Hopefully, there’s more to come,” said Cavotta. “We’re trying to establish a stable program here, and this is our second year.”

LaSalle Cadets

Head coach: Al Rapp

Key veterans: DeVar Jones (senior RB/LB), Fitz McDonough (senior C/DE), Gabriel Smith (senior WR/S), Justin Tuttle (senior OL/DL)

Outlook: The Cadets are keeping their goals modest as they try to move up the division standings following a fourth-place finish in 2011. “We’re still rebuilding,” said Rapp. “We hope we can be .500. We have a lot of new faces, and we’re still sorting out our starters.”

Niskayuna Silver Warriors

Head coach: John Furey

Key veterans: Johnny Camuglia (senior WR/DB), Tyler Pantalone (senior RB/DB), Anthony Massaroni (senior WR/DB), Aidan O’Brien (sophomore RB/LB), Nikko Sacks (senior RB/LB), John Schuler (senior OL/DE), Mike Struzzi (senior OL/DT), Lance Armour (senior OL/DT), Josh Sanzo (senior OL/LB), Grant Smith (senior OL/DT), Stephen Van-Heusen (junior OL/DT), Uwem Akpanikat (senior WR/DB)

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