SCHAGHTICOKE —Holy Trinity football coach John Barber stood outside a locker room at Hoosic Valley High School, soaking wet, with a playbook in one hand and a wad of cash in another.
“[Hoosic Valley coach] Pete [Porcelli] just handed me this,” Barber said of the money raised through a 50-50 raffle at Saturday’s game. “Section II is unbelievable with the way the coaches [and] the community help each other out.”
Donations started pouring in for the Holy Trinity football program soon after an early Friday morning fire deemed arson decimated the fieldhouse at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons and destroyed all of the playing and weightlifting equipment — and many personal items — that was in it. They’re still coming.
“It’s been pretty crazy,” Holy Trinity junior lineman Tom Thayer said. “Obviously, a lot has gone on. One thing that cannot be overlooked is how many people reached out to us and enabled us to play the game we love.”
Holy Trinity won its last two regular season games to qualify for its first sectional contest Saturday, a Class C quarterfinal, and the players wore purple, gold and white road uniforms donated by the University at Albany after the institution got an okay from the NCAA. (Holy Trinity normally wear burgundy and gold.) Connecticut-based Stadium System provided white helmets that by game time were adorned on one side with stickers that bore the team’s nickname, “Pride.”
“I have tons of respect for how they rallied together and gave it everything,” Hoosic Valley junior running back Isaac Sanchez said after scoring two touchdowns in his team’s 46-12 win. “Tons of credit to them. I felt horrible, but of course I couldn’t show it on the field.”
The players from
Schenectady’s Bishop Gibbons and Troy’s Catholic Central that make up Holy Trinity and their coaches weren’t so certain there would be a game Saturday.
“At three o’clock in the morning when I showed up here, I didn’t think it was going to work,” Holy Trinity assistant coach Colton Barber said Friday afternoon as players sifted through donated gear to see if it fit. “It’s going to work.”
Holy Trinity went through its walk-through — or final game prep — late Friday afternoon, right next to the burned outfield house.
“I felt violated. It was our home. I felt like my house got burned down,” said Thayer, who attends Catholic Central. “The coaches built those lockers with their bare hands. My first thought is, ‘We’re not going to be able to play.’ Playing was a victory in itself.”
“It’s a testament to the coaches, administration and community to pull it off,” said Porcelli, whose Indians on Friday donated several pairs of cleats to Holy Trinity. “A difficult situation happened, and they were able to play the game.”
Even as the score got away, Holy Trinity (No. 7 seed, 5-3) never stopped playing. With seven seconds left senior receiver Dylan Behunin turned a juggling catch into a 45-yard touchdown.
“This is the first time we’ve ever been to the playoffs, and the first time I’ve made the playoffs since third grade,” Thayer said. “One thing I can say, without a doubt, is we did not give up. We played hard. We played with pride.”
Hoosic Valley (No. 2 seed, 7-1), the state’s No. 4-ranked team, pulled away in the third quarter when Tom Madigan scored two of his three touchdowns on runs of seven and eight yards. A fumble recovery by Ryan Rifenburg set the second one up.
“The kids thought the uniforms were cool. I was honored to wear those uniforms,” John Barber said. “It’s too bad we couldn’t have played a little better in them.”
The heavy rain that fell for much of the game thwarted Holy Trinity’s passing attack, which was a key elements in its last two wins against Fonda-Fultonville and Johnstown.
“I told them after the game, ‘Stick with your coaches. You’re a year away,’ ” Porcelli said. “They’re pretty good now, but a year from now they could be a top two, top three team.”
Until then, Holy Trinity has much work to do both on and off the field.
“You know us. We’ll rebuild. We’ll go at it,” John Barber said. “We built a press box this year and we’ll rebuild the locker room. We’ll figure some things out.”
Holy Trinity 0 6 0 6 — 12
Hoosic Valley 14 7 13 12 — 46
HV — Sanchez 1 run (Colligan kick)
HV — Schoonmaker 11 run (Colligan kick)
HT — Sexton 8 run (kick failed)
HV — Sanchez 7 run (Colligan kick)
HV — Madigan 7 run (Colligan kick)
HV – Madigan 8 run (kick failed)
HV — Madigan 16 run (kick failed)
HV — Rifenburg 16 run (pass failed)
HT — Behunin 45 pass from Pacini (kick failed)