BURNT HILLS, NY – Friday’s Week 1 of high school football featured a clash between the 2021 Class AA and Class A Section II champions, Christian Brothers Academy and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake.
After two touchdowns in the first quarter, it looked like the Brothers would take the win, but that was far from it.
“After last week, I think our guys thought things were going to be easy,” CBA coach Bobby Burns said. “We try to instill in them that Coach Shell (from Burnt Hills) is as good as he seems. He respected him more than anyone in this section and knew he would have a plan. He knew his kids would play hardball.”
The CBA used a safety and touchdown in the fourth quarter to add some much-needed insurance to their lead as the Brothers cruised to a 23-6 win.
“They just play hard and they don’t give up,” Burnt Hills coach Matt Shell said. “CBA is as good an AA as there is. Playing that physical football against a team that is well trained, with very good athletes and very physical up front, to do what we did, obviously we want to win, but I am very proud of the effort we put in.”
Jahmir Pitcher put CBA on the scoreboard with a 25-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. On the next drive, CBA’s Sam Smith intercepted Spartan quarterback Myles Yannuzzi and returned him 39 yards for a touchdown.
“It was the best feeling in the world. That was my first varsity pick, there’s no better feeling than that,” Smith said. “It was a huge boost, but we knew it wasn’t going to end yet. They weren’t going to go to bed easily. We knew we had to keep fighting.”
It took the Brothers 57 seconds to score two touchdowns, taking a 14-0 lead.
“We looked really good on the first drive and then got a good break on defense to make it 0-14,” Burns said. “I knew they were going to keep fighting.”
Luke Zoller put the Spartans on the board with a seven-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. A failed PAT led to the halftime score, 14-6.
Zoller had an interception for Burnt Hills later in the game, but the Spartans couldn’t convert it for any points.
“We needed a big run, but yards are hard to come by against that defense. You’re trying to find places you could go, but nothing really opened up,” Shell said. “There are things we need to work on, but there are also a lot of positives tonight.”
With more than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and the Spartans lining up to punt at the 45-yard line, the center went over everyone’s heads and continued to move until it came out the back of the end zone, which which resulted in a security
“It was huge. It gave us two scores instead of one,” Smith said of safety. “It gave us a little bit of breathing room and made us a little bit more comfortable.”
“As much as our offense is special at times, we’re going to win football games with defense,” Burns added. “That has been my goal since I started as head coach and it always will be.”
On the next drive, Jahmir Pitcher scored his second touchdown of the game on a six-yard run, giving the Brothers a 23-6 lead.
Last week, CBA played a Week Zero match when they defeated La Salle, 55-0. The Brothers (2-0) will play their first Class AA game of the season next week, on Sept. 16, when they travel to Shaker for a 7 pm kickoff. They have their first home game on September 23 against Schenectady.
Burnt Hills (0-1) had a game against Shenendehowa last week. They have three straight road games against Averill Park on September 16, South Glens Falls on September 23 and Albany on October 1.
The Spartans also began their 2021 season against a tough Class AA school, resulting in a 28-7 loss to Shaker. They went on to win nine straight games, en route to the Class A sectional title.
“It’s a challenge, that’s for sure. When you can do it and contend for four quarters, it gives you some things to work on,” Shell said of the difficult Week 1 games. “It will only help us move forward.”
CBA 23, BURNED HILLS 6
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School
Burnt Hills, New York
collective agreement 14-0-0-9 — 23
CBA: Jahmir Pitcher 25-yard TD run, PAT good, CBA 7-0
CBA: Sam Smith intercepts Myles Yannuzzi and returns 39 yards for a TD, PAT good, CBA 14-0
BHBL: Luke Zoller 7-yard TD run, PAT missed, CBA 14-6
CBA: BHBL snap causes a 45-yard loss and goes out the back of the end zone for a safety, CBA 16-6
CBA: Jahmir Pitcher 6-yard TD run, PAT good, CBA 23-6
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL SUMMARY
Shenendehowa 35, La Salle 12
Saratoga Springs 21, Niskayuna 7
Belen 34, Colombia 22
Ballston Spa 43, Cologne 6
Mechanicville 49, Rensselaer/Loudonville Christian 0
Stillwater 56, Watervliet-6
Guilderland 42, Averill Park 20