GUILDERLAND Could this be the year the Guilderland football team has waited for?
After finishing third in the Empire Division standings last year, the Dutchmen have an opportunity to challenge for the title this season. They have one of the most veteran-laden lineups in Class AA, led by record-setting senior quarterback Frank Gallo.
“Everything is getting back in place, and everyone is looking good,” said Gallo, who led Section II in passing last season with a school-record 1,758 yards.
“Any time you have experience at most positions, it’s reassuring,” said Guilderland coach Dan Penna. “The thing you worry about is motivation … but the kids have been pushing each other (in practice) to get the most out of each other.”
Gallo has his favorite target back in senior wide receiver Jacob Smith, who caught 33 passes for 600 yards and six touchdowns, and senior tailback Micaiah Henningham returns after scoring 10 touchdowns last season.
“We’re going to be very experienced,” said Gallo. “We have the same coaching staff, which always helps. I don’t think we have an advantage over any other team, but I feel like we are the top team.”
“We’re excited about not only the experience we have, but also the leadership we have (with Gallo, Smith and Henningham),” said Penna. “It really helps to have, in essence, coaches on the field to lead the others.”
Gallo said he never thought about setting any school records in his first year quarterbacking the Dutchmen.
“I’ve always had high expectations of myself, but I didn’t expect that,” said Gallo.
The expectation Gallo and the rest of the Dutchmen have of themselves this year is to challenge for the school’s first Section II championship.
“That’s why we’re here,” said Gallo. “If you’re not here to win (a Sectional title), what’s the point?”