BY MICHAEL KELLY
NISKAYUNA — To say that Mike Perrin and other senior members of the Niskayuna football team have heard the whispers questioning why they stick with a program that starts the season unable to qualify for the playoffs is not true.
People, Perrin said, come right up to him and say that to his face.
“A lot of people ask me why I keep playing,” he said.
“You have to stick with what you love,” said Perrin, a two-way lineman and captain for the Silver Warriors.
No member of this year’s Niskayuna football squad has ever played in a Section II varsity postseason game. That won’t change this year — it can’t. For the second consecutive year, Niskayuna is playing at the Class A level, opting to remove itself from its size-determined Class AA status at which it would be allowed to qualify for the playoffs. The Silver Warriors are the only Section II football team dropping down a level this season.
A year ago, Niskayuna played down a classification because a small senior class left its roster with only 23 players for a winless season. Head coach John Furey said this year’s roster could have as many as 40 players, but the squad is staying in ‘A’ partially because it expects to have its numbers fall off again for 2016.
Through the team’s opening week of double sessions, Furey said the subject of the team’s inability to play in the postseason has not come up. His seniors, he said, have made sure the focus has been on getting ready for Green Tech in Week 1 on Sept. 4.
“They’re just here to play football, that’s what they’re all about,” Furey said. “Their approach is tremendous.”
And, realistic. The Silver Warriors’ primary goal this season is to finish with a .500 record.
“We want to come back stronger than last year,” Perrin said. “Our team is really going to fight this year and not give up. We’re giving it everything we have in practices.”
Those practices are almost more important than the games for the Silver Warriors. Senior Sean Haffner, who plays fullback and linebacker, said his classmates’ long-range goal is to be the group remembered for helping to turn things back around for Niskayuna football, which last had a winning season in 2011.
“We look at it like we have to get the younger guys ready to bring the program back to where we can have a winning season. That’s what the program wants, and maybe we can do that this year,” said Haffner, whose program boasts very strong numbers at the freshman and modified levels. “But, if not, we want to help get the team ready to do that next year.”
To do that, the Silver Warriors are focused on this year, getting ready to enjoy their Friday night lights after working their way through the pains and aches of training camp. Their season’s success will not be measured the same as most teams in Section II, but Furey said his group is the type that coaches consider a success from Day 1.
“They just want to play football, man,” Furey said. “That’s the kind of kids you want, anyway.”