By: Aidan Joly
In a game where running was the mainstay, Saratoga grabbed a huge first half lead and carried it to a victory on Friday night at Niskayuna High School in their 2017 season opener over Niskayuna by a final score of 46-21.
Saratoga started off fast, using the ground game to march down the field, which allowed the Blue Streaks to reach the four-yard line after a 17-yard rush from Chris Klimek, setting up a four-yard touchdown run from QB Wes Eglintine to give Saratoga an early lead. Just over three minutes later, it was Saratoga scoring after another 17-yard rush, but this time for a touchdown from Cam Adams just after he ran 25 yards to set up the score. All of this was done in the first five minutes of the game.
Junior Ashton Capone pushed himself into the end zone later in the quarter, and then it was Adams again scoring on a 21-yard running touchdown. This gave the Blue Streaks a chance to calm down early, leading 27-0 by the time the clock ran out on the first quarter. That was Capone’s first of two touchdowns on the night as he added a 57-yard run during the third quarter.
“The kids executed the way we wanted them to. We were able to move the ball on the ground. We missed some opportunities in the air early on, but we were able to make up for it,” Saratoga head coach Terry Jones said.
Saratoga upped the lead to 39-0 in the later stages of the second quarter, first on an 80-yard pass from Eglintine to Carter Steingraber then three minutes later on a 47-yarder to Lewi Clarke. This gave Saratoga a huge lead at the half that allowed them to sub in players and relax a little bit during the second half.
“This is varsity football. Obviously, there’s no guarantee, no mandatory playing time, things like that,” Jones said. “It’s great for (the bench) to get out here and be able to participate and be able to participate quite a bit in this game. They deserve that. That’s the greatest thing that I’m taking away from this game.”
Niskayuna put the ball in the end zone three times over the course of the second half, first on a one-yard from Deylon Edmonds, followed by a two-yard rush from Derek Meisner and finally QB Dan Brownell finding Jeff Halusic for a 13-yard pass touchdown.
Another game storyline was that it was the varsity football coaching debut for new Niskayuna head coach Brian Grastorf, who was named last spring following the retirement of John Furey. Grastorf went to Niskayuna and was their quarterback, graduating in 2006. He was the Niskayuna JV coach last year and previously served as the offensive coordinator at Colonie.
“It’s fun to come back to the school where you grew up at and coach. I see some similarities with the kids and kids that I played with, and you always have a little bit of extra pride with the place that you played for.”
Saratoga starts the season off with the victory, winning the season opener for the second time in three years. They will play again on Friday, September 8, in their home opener as they face arch-rival Shenendehowa. That game will start at 7 p.m.
Niskayuna begins the season with a loss. They will play again on Saturday, September 9, as they take on Albany on the road. That game will start at 1:30 p.m.