All three Class AA football teams in Colonie are going through at least a partial rebuilding phase after each graduated several key players from last season.
Of the three, Colonie may have the fewest holes to fill, as far as offensive skill position players go. The Garnet Raiders return quarterback Will McCann, running back Dan Kehrer and receivers Chris and Jay Newsom from last season.
“I think they’re a great bunch of kids that worked very hard during the off-season,” said Colonie coach Eric Rouleau. “Hopefully, that hard work translates into success on the field.”
A third year varsity starter, McCann said he’s looking forward to the season.
“The Liberty Division is always tough, but I have confidence in my teammates,” said McCann.
Defending Liberty Division champion Shaker is regrouping following the graduation of several key players from last year’s 7-2 team. Making things easier for the Blue Bison is the return of three talented running backs, led by Brown University-bound senior Andrew Bolton, Kwasi Addo and Ryan Duda.
“I’m very happy with our running backs,” said Shaker coach Greg Sheeler. “I’ve got seven or eight guys I can send out there. Bolton will get his carries, but we won’t be relying on him alone.”
Christian Brothers Academy has the most holes to fill, as they seek their third straight appearance in the Section 2 Class AA championship game. The Brothers graduated several offensive stars, including talented running back Nasir Tune and two-way players Donald Vivian and Ben Anthony.
“We lost a group of players who worked very hard, but we have four or five starters back from that group,” said CBA coach Joe Burke. “Plus, we have a good group of seniors and some talented guys up from the JV team.”
CBA and Shaker meet each other Friday, Sept. 4, in Latham, to start the season. The two teams met twice last year, with CBA winning both games, including a come-from-behind victory over Shaker in the Sectional semifinals.
“They have a talented group of kids — well coached,” Burke said of Shaker. “Certainly, it’s something that will be a challenge to us.”
Sheeler said his team will have to play well to defeat CBA.
“To be successful Friday night, we have to minimize our mistakes — especially our turnovers,” said Sheeler.
Colonie begins its season Sept. 4 with a road trip to Ballston Spa. It will be the Garnet Raiders’ first opportunity to see how well their offense will work.
“One thing about this group is they’ve worked together over and over during the offseason to get better,” said Rouleau. “Hopefully, that pays off for them.”
Divisional play for all three Class AA teams will begin in Week 3, Sept. 18. Colonie travels to East Greenbush to face Columbia, Shaker hosts Schenectady and CBA goes to Clifton Park to play Shenendehowa — the team it lost to in last season’s Sectional final.
“The group of kids who were part of that last year … I think they realize it’s not a revenge thing,” said Burke about the Shen game. “They played in that game, so they have that experience. That’s more important than anything.”
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