By: Aidan Joly
A major change on both sides led to a different outcome this time for Shaker.
The Shaker Blue Bison defeated the Saratoga Blue Streaks football on Friday night at Saratoga High School by a score of 35-7, in a rematch of the 2015 Section 2, Class AA final and Saratoga’s 2016 Senior Night game.
Things began going south early for the Blue Streaks as they begun the game with a 15-play drive that lasted over seven minutes, only to turn the ball over within the 10-yard line. Shaker jumped on an early opportunity to take the game’s momentum early, scoring three minutes later on an eight-yard touchdown run from Kwasi Addo, which ended up being his first of two touchdowns in the contest. Saratoga tied it up 7-7 just minutes later on a six-yard touchdown from Darius Wicks, but it was all Shaker from there. They would make the game 28-7 at the half scoring three more touchdowns — a 69-yard pass touchdown from quarterback Wahid Nabi to Aram Alaxanian, an 80-yard rush touchdown carried by the legs of Anthony Johnson and Addo’s second touchdown, this time a four-yard rush into the end zone.
Despite being down by three touchdowns at halftime, Saratoga had the edge in the time of possession on offense, and this was due to the quick scoring of the Blue Bison offense and Wahid Nabi.
“We’re a grind-it-out kind of team and take good plays when they’re there, but certainly I’m not going to complain about scoring on a quick play,” Shaker head coach Greg Sheeler said.
Saratoga had multiple long drives, but they would never amount to getting into the end zone as quarterback Jack Cairns threw two interceptions, both in the red zone.
“We committed so many guys to the run, and there were times that we didn’t read our keys. We got caught out of position, and they beat us over the top. They have some really good backs over there,” Saratoga head coach Terry Jones said.
Things would quiet down in the second half as there would only be one more score in the game which was a 68-yard touchdown run from Mikael Brown.
“I give huge credit to the line. They did an incredible job. I don’t think I’ve seen holes that big since I started playing football, so definitely huge hats off to the line,” Brown said of his team.
Injuries would play a major role as well for Saratoga as Chris Klimek was removed in the second quarter due to an ankle injury, and Austyn O’Neil also came out at halftime due to a leg injury.
Friday was also senior night for Saratoga, and the team’s seniors were honored in a pregame ceremony.
Shaker improves to 5-1 with the victory and have clinched a playoff spot but cannot win the Liberty Division due to Troy’s win over Schenectady. They will face Bethlehem in an away game in the final regular season game of the season.
Saratoga falls to 1-5 this season and has been eliminated from playoff contention. However, they can play spoiler next week if they beat Ballston Spa. That game will be played at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14, at Ballston Spa.