CANAJOHARIE —When the 2017 high school football season kicks off this weekend, there will be a new look among the local teams.
After playing together on the modified and junior varsity level the merger of a dozen players from Fort Plain into the Canajoharie varsity football lineup will come to fruition this year.
“You would never know the kids from Fort Plain are not from Canajoharie, “ Coach Shannon Hyney said. “They have all blended in and everybody is having fun. The positivity of the kids has been fantastic. There hasn’t been any issues at all and no struggles in the transition. “
Fort Plain fielded a varsity football team in the past. The Hilltoppers played an independent schedule in 1968 and 1969 before joining the Pioneer League with Canajoharie, Bishop Scully, Perth, Broadalbin, Fonda-Fultonville, Middleburgh, Cobleskill and Schoharie in 1970.
A year later the former Tri-Valley League was formed with Fonda-Fultonville, Perth, Middleburgh, Cobleskill, Broadalbin, Schoharie and Fort Plain..
The Hilltoppers continued to field a varsity team until 1980 when budget problems forced the team to be sidelined. Fort Plain fielded a junior varsity squad in 1981 before returning to the varsity level in 1982. After a winless season that year, Fort Plain dropped its program after the 1982 season.
Since then members of the school district were able to play youth football in the Canajoharie youth program but were not able to move on to the scholastic level.
In the wake of successfully merging the wrestling, cross-county and swim teams to allow more student-athletes the opportunity to compete, the schools got together and merged the modified and junior varsity football programs.
“I loved the idea., “ Coach Hyney said. “I have been one of the people trying to pursue it and I am also the president of our youth organization so I see the kids coming in. Our feeling is that we want to give those kids the option if they want to play. It definitely helps us with the numbers but I think Canjo would remain viable, so that wasn’t the main thing. It is a win-win for both schools. “
The Cougars will open their season on the road at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Granville, which is now under the guidance of former Queensbury coach John Irion.
“If we can get things situated with our offensive line I think we will be very solid and stout, “ Hyney said.
The goals for the season remain the same as always for the Cougars.
“We would love to be in sectional play but with the teams that have dropped down from the Cs to the Ds, it is not going to be easy, “ Coach Hyney said. “There are some very competitive teams with some great coaching so we have to as close to our A-game every week. “
With a solid group of players from both schools coming up through the ranks, Hyney said it looks like a promising future for the program.
“Our goal is to give these kids the opportunity, “ he said. “It doesn’t matter what name is on the helmet or on the front of the jersey, it’s football. “
South Glens Falls at Gloversville
Today, 7 p.m.
The Gloversville Huskies will try to get their season off on a positive note tonight against the Bulldogs of South Glens Falls.
South High, which upended Gloversville 53-32 in the final game of the 2016 regular season to get the third seed in the Class A sectionals, return a solid core of players including running backs Dylan Schrammel and K.J. Mickel who combined for 23 touchdowns and more than 1,600 yards last year.
Buck Galster steps into the quarterback spot this season for the Huskies as they try to put last year’s 2-8 season behind them.
“We have several three-year varsity starters with tone of experience on this team and we are hoping it pays dividends for us this year, “ GHS coach Jared Bongo said.
Gloversville is captained this year by Galster, Pryce Bouchard, Trevor Mee, Kory Cotugno and Jared Malagisi.
Johnstown at Ravena
Today, 7 p.m.
The Sir Bills faced Ravena -Coeyman-Selkirk in a Section II Class B crossover game last year and came up on the short end of the 38-14 score.
Johnstown returns several key players from the 2016 squad including Austin Fullington, Tanner Fahr, Adam Wilson, Zach Pedersen, Na’Jon Subik, Trey Stover, Trevor Porter, Kerry Blackwood and Ben Lake.
Blackwood and Porter both saw time at quarterback last year, while Fahr, Subik and Pedersen return to anchor the Sir Bills’ defense.
“We are very excited with this group of young men, “ second-yard coach Tyler Hall said. “They have worked extremely hard in the offseason to be ready for this year. “
The Indians finished last season with a 5-2 overall record and return eight starters from that squad.
Cobleskill-Richmondville at Broadalbin-Perth
Today, 7 p.m.
After a season-ending leg injury in 2016, junior Brodryk Benton returns for his third season as quarterback of the Patriots.
Though the numbers are low, the Patriots return nine players from last year’s squad that posted victories over Ichabod Crane and Hudson Falls.
“Our success will depend on staying healthy, “ B-P coach Jim Pelneau said. “With our low numbers, many players will have to step up and contribute right away in a very competitive Class B league. “
Cobleskill-Richmondville is coming off a 3-4 season in which they defeated Broadalbin-Perth 20-7.
Scotia-Glenville at Amsterdam
Today, 7 p.m.
Amsterdam will get a chance for its young players to get settled in as they face Scotia-Glenville tonight at the Lynch Literacy Academy.
The Rams will be looking to fill the void left by the graduation of the Section II Class A Player of the Year, Dale Stanavich, who ran for just over 1,500 yards last year, and Class A Northwest Division first-team defensive player Elijah Newborn.
Coach Doug Edick will be looking for senior Mikey Gomez and sophomore Jacob Greco to help carry the load and Trey Holloway, who is expected to sit out tonight’s game, returns to the lineup at quarterback after missing the bulk of last year with a broken leg. Junior Andrew Giaimo is expected to get the start for the Rams tonight.
The Tartans went winless through the regular season last year but eked out a 28-27 victory over Broadalbin-Perth in a season-ending Class A/B crossover game.
Fonda-Fultonville at Mechanicville
Today, 7 p.m.
After going winless through the regular season, the 2016 Braves closed out the season with back-to-back victories in cross over games.
Fonda-Fultonville hopes to keep that momentum going as they face Mechanicville, which advanced to the Class C finals last season.
The Red Raiders have a new coach in Craig Cavotta this season and return eight starters from the 2016 including quarterback Dan Motta and tight end Keeghan McHale.
Sophomore John Mancini, who quarterbacked the Braves to their season-ending victories, is expected to take the snaps this season and will get support from veteran running back Massimo DiCaprio and wide receiver Luke Neff.