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Sweet, Sweet Victory: Falcons Soar Past Raiders for First Win

October 24, 2015

by Justin Porreca

Ball on the 13—first down—and for the first time all season the Albany High Falcons are in the victory formation. Several Falcons players scooped up the 10-gallon Gatorade jug and charged at coach Joey DiPiazza giving him the iconic, celebratory Gatorade bath.

Kool & The Gang’s, Celebration, crashed through the stadium speakers. Jubilant students, families and faculty stormed the field overwhelmed with emotion as the Albany High Falcons played a near-flawless game, squeezing by the Colonie High Raiders, 35-34, Friday night.

“We’ve been asking for it and we did it tonight, this was a 12-round heavyweight fight, back and forth—back and forth and for our first win, it makes it that much more special,” DiPiazza said.

The offenses electrified the evening, pushing the ball up and down the field with ease, while the defenses were seemingly non-existent.

The first quarter was a fast-paced, offensive onslaught, with both teams scoring at will.

The Raiders marched down the field and finished a six-play, 60-yard drive with a 14-yard airstrike from quarterback, Will McCann, to tight end, Josh Foley, in the corner of the end zone.


Colonie Raiders Tight End, Josh Foley, jumps and extends to haul in a 14-yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone/Justin Porreca

Albany High answered the Raiders quick scoring drive, with a seven-play, 56-yard drive of their own, capped off by a Ky’Ere Tillery 10-yard rushing touchdown.    Colonie High wasted little time answering the Falcons scoring drive.

The Raiders quickly marched down the field on the Falcons anemic defense, capping off a three-play, 46-yard drive with quarterback, Shai Young, plunging into the end zone for a three-yard touchdown.

The Raiders used a two-quarterback system, McCann being the pocket passer and Young being the dual-threat, read option quarterback. This was the first time the Falcons saw Young in the game, and from this point on Colonie rotated between both quarterbacks.

The Falcons offense, firing on all cylinders, pounced on the Raiders porous defense scoring twice before the half.

On their ensuing possession, Albany High answered Colonie’s quick drive with a five-play, 51-yard drive, capped off by a Tillery one-yard touchdown. After the score, DiPiazza opted to go for a two-point conversion to even the game up at 14-14. His decision was a successful one. Tillery pushed through the scrum of defenders and into the end zone to tie the game up at 14.

After the defense stood their ground on two straight Colonie possessions, the Falcons capitalized on the Raiders inability to produce anything offensively.

Just before the half, Albany High marched down the field and capped the drive off with a 35-yard touchdown from Noah John to wide receiver Jarrell Chaney, who caught the pass between two Raider defenders.

Before both squads hit the locker room at the half to make key adjustments, there was a key play on the Raiders ensuing drive before halftime that was both controversial and confusing.

With five seconds left on the clock, Colonie tried a 38-yard field goal to make it 21-17 going into halftime. The trajectory of kicker, Anthony Patalino’s, kick was low and hit his lineman in the back, thus still making it a live ball. However, one of the line judges inadvertently blew his whistle prior to the Raiders picking up the loose ball and running it into the end zone. This negated the would be Raiders touchdown and left the score, 21-14, at the half.

“We were all just very confused about the play, some of the players thought that we could have scored the touchdown and some of the players started to walk off the field,” said running back Dan Kehrer.

Any defensive adjustments made at halftime proved futile, as the offenses continued to rack up yards and march down the field at ease.

After Albany High’s initial second-half possession that resulted in a turnover on downs, neither offense was shut down, producing five straight scoring drives.

Colonie put it in the gut of their tailback Kehrer in the second half and he ran roughshod on the Falcons defense.

The Raiders marched down the field on their first possession of the second-half and capped it off with Kehrer weaving his way past a slew of Falcon defenders for a seven-yard touchdown.

Albany responded quickly on their ensuing drive with a John 58-yard touchdown strike to Chaney, giving the Falcons the lead once again, 28-21.

The Raiders continued to feed their workhorse back, Kehrer, who carried them down the field once again, setting the offense up for a Young two-yard scamper, tying the game up at 28 with 11:22 left in the fourth quarter.

With a balanced pass and run attack, the Falcons methodically drove down the field, chewing time off the clock to eliminate any opportunity for Colonie to tie the game. Albany High capped the drive off with Tillery plunging into the end zone for a two-yard score, his third touchdown of the game, giving the Falcons the lead 35-28 with 4:55 left.


Falcons tailback, Ky’Ere Tillery, blasts through the first line of defense and scampers for a huge gain/Justin Porreca

Undeterred by the raucous crowd and limited time, the Colonie Raiders offense continued to stay in high gear.

The Raiders quickly marched down the field, but stalled on the 35-yard line, resulting in the game coming down to a key fourth down.

Albany High put immediate pressure on Young, the quarterback for this drive, who scrambled and eluded the oncoming Falcon defenders and scampered up the sideline for a six-yard gain and a first down, extending the drive.

On the next play, Kehrer took the handoff and went 29 yards up the sideline for a touchdown, making the score 35-34 and a successful extra-point would tie the game up with 2:38 left on the clock.

The snap was good, the hold was good—the kick wide left—no good, leaving the score 35-34.

Albany High would recover the onside kick and proceed to run out the clock and squeeze out the victory, 35-34.

This win marked the Falcons first Class AA Empire Division victory since October 20, 2007 against Shaker—eight years ago this past week.

“I knew we could do it, I knew we would get at least one this season, it’s just the beginning,” Tillery said.

The star tailback picked up another 100-yard game, compiling 147 yards on the ground on 31 attempts and three touchdowns.

Chaney got back to his dominant form Friday night, catching seven passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns and John went 8 for 12 for 169 yards and two touchdowns.             “We’ve been practicing since December, before the season even started, that’s all what we’ve been thinking about is getting our W. Coach has been telling us and each other that we have to get that W and it’s just—amazing,” Chaney said.

As for the Colonie Raiders, Kehrer was their dominant performer of the game ripping the Falcons rush defense apart.

The senior tailback rushed for 131 yards on 16 attempts and two touchdowns.

“The line blocked amazing, it was just said we couldn’t get the job done at the end,” Kehrer said.

Colonie head coach, Eric Rouleau, declined to comment after the heartbreaking loss.

Albany High, despite playing a near-flawless game and not committing a turnover, still have some areas to work on in practice this week, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. However, they’re going into practice this week amped up, confident and looking to get their second win of the season. The Falcons haven’t had double-digit wins since 2005.


The scene in the center of the field after the Falcon fan-base stormed the field to celebrate their first win of the season/Justin Porreca

“We can do it, I’m not sure who we are playing yet, but I like my squad against any team and I think we’re definitely going to be fired up to go after this victory,” John said.

Albany High and Colonie High will play another crossover game this week, however who they will playing is still unknown. What is known is that this is a major highlight for an Albany High football program that is continuing to build and progress.

“It’s the highlight of my coaching career—I love doing what I do, being around our kids, our kids are so special and this is what I came back home for,” DiPiazza said. -30-


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