BY MICHAEL KELLY
NISKAYUNA — A year ago, the football season for Niskayuna ended after Week 7, with too many injuries piled up for the winless Silver Warrior to continue its campaign into its crossover portion.
This year, that’s not the case — and Niskayuna head coach John Furey is pretty excited about that.
“To me, it’s a big deal,” said Furey, whose team will play host Oct. 23 to Averill Park. “We’re playing more football and going to get after it.”
Niskayuna finished its regular season Oct. 16 with a 50-0 loss to Troy, an undefeated squad ranked No. 5 in the state’s Class A poll. In the Homecoming contest for Niskayuna, Troy’s Damani Soares rushed for 118 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries.
Soares also had two receptions for 68 yards and a score.
While the margin of defeat was disappointing for the Silver Warriors, which finished the regular season 2-5, Furey said his team was not disheartened. After last year’s cut-short 0-7 season, Furey said his Silver Warriors were ready to move onto their version of a postseason.
“We’ve got two weeks of football to play and for the seniors this is their last games,” he said. “For our underclassmen, they can build themselves up and set the tone for the future. This is a great opportunity for us.”
Crossover games take place between teams not in the Section II playoff tournaments. Niskayuna, as a Class AA-size school playing a Class A schedule, was not eligible for this year’s playoffs.
Niskayuna won its Week 2 and Week 6 games this year, beating both Bishop Maginn and South Glens Falls. One of its closest losses came back in Week 4 against its opponent for Week 8, a 35-28 defeat at Averill Park. In that game, Niskayuna quarterback Jake Shephard nearly led the Silver Warriors to a victory, as he completed 11 of 16 passes and threw for a touchdown, while also rushing for a pair of scores.
With strong efforts in Weeks 8 and 9 — Niskayuna’s Week 9 opponent will not be known until after Week 8’s games — the Silver Warriors could potentially get their record to 4-5. While a shade shy of a winning mark, Furey said registering four victories after a winless 2014 would be a great achievement for his 2015 squad.
Hitting that mark is what will motivate the Niskayuna football team in its last weeks together.
“I want to be sound as heck. I want to work on everything,” Furey said. “I want us to get out there and be all about it.”