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High school football: Schalmont rolls past Ravena

Big second quarter gives Sabres a boost

— For one quarter, last Friday’s Section II Class B football semifinal between Schalmont and Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk had the makings of a classic.

Then Schalmont’s offense took over, and Ravena had no answer.

Tailback Devon Willis rushed for 198 yards and three touchdowns to lead the defending Sectional champion Sabres (8-1) to a 48-0 victory over the Indians (7-2) in Rotterdam.

“They executed, and they did a great job,” said Schalmont coach Joe Whipple. “We did what we knew we could do.”

“They dominated us every which way but loose,” said Ravena coach Gary VanDerzee. “They were much the better club tonight.”

Ravena’s defense held Schalmont to six first-quarter points, but it wasn’t long before the Sabres began pulling away. Quarterback Nick Gallo scored on a 26-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter, and Willis capped Schalmont’s next offensive series with a 3-yard scoring run to make the score 20-0.

Two turnovers late in the second quarter sealed Ravena’s fate. Schalmont’s Chas Higgins intercepted quarterback Connor Zeoli’s pass and returned it to Ravena’s 5-yard line. Three plays later, Willis scored on a 3-yard touchdown run to put the Sabres ahead 27-0.

Zeoli dropped back to pass again on Ravena’s ensuing series when Kevin Paskevich came in from behind and knocked the ball out of Zeoli’s hands. Paskevich picked up the loose ball and rambled three yards for Schalmont’s fourth touchdown of the second quarter. Marcus Ramundo caught a two-point conversion pass on a fake extra point to put the Sabres ahead 35-0.

“We talk about scoop and score (to our defense) every day,” said Whipple. “When it happens, the kids blow up.”

“It was still a ballgame, but they turned it up a notch and we didn’t match their intensity,” said VanDerzee.

Willis and Gallo each added short touchdown runs in the third quarter to cap Schalmont’s victory and send the Sabres to their fourth consecutive Sectional final. Schalmont meets West Division rival Glens Falls Saturday at Shenendehowa High School.

“Our kids are so amped up to play next week that if the New York Giants stepped on the field, they would give them a game,” said Whipple.

As for Ravena, VanDerzee said his players can take comfort in continuing the winning tradition at the southern Albany County school.

“I’m very proud of our kids. We had a great year,” said VanDerzee. “This (semifinal loss) doesn’t define the whole year.”

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