2016 Chenango Forks Varsity Football

Game 13 vs Glens Falls

Glens Falls defeats 47-39.
CFs quest for 4 consecutive state titles
falls short in a shootout thriller.

Articles courtesy of the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, The Glens Falls Post-Star
and the Albany Times-Union

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01 02 03 04   Tot
Chenango Forks 6 21 6 6 - 39
Glens Falls 7 20 7 13 - 47
  • CFo - Tim McDonald 8y run (kick failed)
  • GFa - Aaron Sampson 17y run (Andrew Stamatel kick)
  • .
  • GFa - Joseph Girard 79 run (Stamatel kick)
  • CFo - LJ Watson 12y run (Connor Borchardt pass from Cody Bogue)
  • GFa - Dylan Balcom 16y pass from Girard (kick failed)
  • CFo - Watson 60y run (Bryant LaMere kick)
  • GFa - Balcom 19y pass from Girard (Stamatel kick)
  • CFo - Dan Crowningshield 9y pass from Bogue (run failed)
  • .
  • GFa - Sampson 12y run (Stamatel kick)
  • CFo - McDonald 9y run (kick failed)
  • GFa - Girard 3y run (pass failed)
  • .
  • CFo - Connor Borchardt 16y pass from Bogue (run failed)
  • GFa - Andrew Murphy 48y kickoff return (Stamatel kick)


  Glens Falls CF
First Downs 16 22
Rushes-Yards 33-318 51-307
Passing Yards 62 90
Comp-Att-Int 4-10-0 6-12-1
Total Offense 43-380 63-397
Punts-Ave yards 2-29 2-36
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards 13-107 2-24


Glens Falls rushing

  • Aaron Sampson       15-166, 2 TDs
  • Joseph Girard       11-94, 2 TDs
  • Andrew Murphy        5-47
  • Josh Griffen         1-8
  • Dylan Balcom         1-3

Chenango Forks rushing

  • LJ Watson           21-192, 2 TDs
  • Tim McDonald        21-90, 2 TDs
  • Jeremiah Allen       5-22
  • Seth Bush            2-4
  • Cody Bogue           2-(-1)

Glens Falls passing

  • Joseph Girard 4-for-10, 62y, 0 int.

Chenango Forks passing

  • Cody Bogue 5-for-10, 52y, 1 int.
  • LJ Watson  1-for-2,  38y, 0 int.

Glens Falls receiving

  • Dylan Balcom        2-35, 2 TDs
  • Tony Green          1-14
  • Aaron Sampson       1-13

Chenango Forks receiving:  

  • Dan Crowningshield  2-47, 1 TD
  • LJ Watson           3-27
  • Connor Borchardt    1-16, 1 TD

Post-Game Article(s) 

Glens Falls tops Forks in title-game shootout

Blue Devils’ six TDs not enough as Glens Falls captures Class B title

Kevin Stevens - Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

How offensively sound, this Glens Falls football team that halted Chenango Forks’ state-best football win streak at 23 games? The Blue Devils put up six touchdowns, yet watched the Indians celebrate the program’s first state championship.

Stunning to those familiar with Forks’ defense and special teams’ play ­ present day as well as historically ­ Glens Falls emerged with a 47-39 victory Saturday in the Carrier Dome.

The Blue Devils will have laments when they review this one, notably substandard kickoff coverage that repeatedly left too little turf between Glens Falls’ potent offense and the goal line, and too frequent inability to muster a point or two following their TDs.

What amounted to the final blow was Glens Falls toppling L.J. Watson short on a two-point try after Forks drew within 40-39 on Connor Borchardt’s brilliant 16-yard touchdown reception with 37 seconds remaining. Watson was stuffed inside by assorted Indians defenders.

Next came a perfectly foreseeable onside kick­ summarily fielded on a forward charge and returned for six by chops-licking Indians jet Andrew Murphy with 30 seconds remaining.

The Class B championship went to Glens Falls in the program’s third state-playoff appearance, thanks largely to the Indians’ superior speed coupled with ­ and contributing to ­ a batch of uncustomary miscues by Forks.

No Forks opponent through 12 weeks had exceeded 20 points, and 11 went for 14 or fewer.

“It was fairly surprising, but only initially,” said Forks coach David Hogan. “After we saw what we were in for, we knew they could score.”

“They took advantage of the edge,” Watson said. “All year we’ve been able to protect the edge. They got outside and they were faster than us. They were getting off their blocks, they were making cuts, everything they were doing, they were a little step faster than we were.”

Watson concluded a fourth season as varsity starter with 192 rushing yards and two touchdowns to go with three receptions, a 38-yard pass that set up a score and defense aplenty. Call it a thorough effort from a young man clearly not at full capacity physically.

It was a 27-27 halftime stalemate, and rightfully so given the respective sides’ shortcomings.

Glens Falls was assessed nine penalties to Forks’ zero, but the Blue Devils’ kick-coverage unit permitted returns of 51, 34 and 48 yards. The latter set up the Indians at Forks’ 28-yard line 12 seconds before halftime, but two incomplete passes and an offensive pass interference call thwarted that opportunity.

The lead was Glens Falls’ for good when, following a nothing-happening Forks possession to start the third quarter, the Indians went 73 yards on seven plays for points aided by one big-time Forks blunder.

Having converted one third down on the drive, Glens Falls’ Aaron Sampson (15 rushes, 166 yards) gained 26 third-down yards which, coupled with a personal foul against Forks, brought first down at the 12. Sampson then took a rush outside ­ where Forks had little answer all afternoon ­ and burst across the goal line 4:46 into the half. Andrew Stamatel’s PAT kick made it a 34-27 Indians advantage.

Undeterred, these Week 13 veterans, the Devils responded with a 12-play possession finished by a 9-yard TD rush by Tim McDonald­ who deftly avoided a low tackle attempt by Tony Green along the way. That came with 20 seconds remaining in the third quarter, but was followed by the Devils’ third failure to convert from PAT kick formation.

And so it was Glens Falls’ turn, and four plays into the possession Sampson darted left for a 49-yard gain, shoved out of bounds by a determined Watson at the 5-yard line. With Borchardt and Kris Borelli key defenders, the Indians soon faced fourth down from the 3. But in a twist, Sampson took the snap from center and fed Joseph Girard, ordinarily the quarterback, as Girard charged left to right. Girard carried across, a two-point pass failed on a kick gone awry, and Glens Falls’ lead was 40-33 with 8:54 to play.

After an exchange of punts, Forks took the football at its 32-yard line with 5:26 to play.

The first game-saver came on a fourth-and-4 pass of 6 yards from Bogue to Watson, the second when Watson rushed for 4 yards on fourth-and-18 inches. A Bogue-to-Watson pass of 10 yards set up first down from the 16 with 43 seconds remaining.

Bogue took the snap, had a look right and delivered in the direction of 6-foot-3 Borchardt, whose keen awareness enabled him to position his body in front of a 5-8 defender to make the catch for points.

Outstanding work by quarterback and receiver, in the clutch.

“I didn’t even think the pass was going to come to me on that play, but I saw the ball, went up and got it and tried to get into the end zone,” Borchardt said.

Forks was within 40-39. Thirty-seven seconds remained.

The call was for Watson on a dive play, but the backfield exchange went less than smoothly and Glens Falls defenders were up to the task.

“If I had it to do over again, we’d still go for two,” Hogan said. “I think I knew when we were going in that if we scored, we were probably going to go for two in that situation. It’s on me, it’s my call. Maybe I would have called a different play, I don’t know.”

The onside kick was fielded by Murphy just across midfield and taken back for a TD which, with Stamatel’s PAT, accounted for the final points.

As for those 47 points against an opponent unaccustomed to giving up that amount in, say, three games?

“We try to do our thing on offense, keep it as efficient as possible, try to mix things up, try not to show everything right off the bat so we can keep it going throughout the game,” said Dylan Balcom, scorer of the Indians’ last two first-half TDs. “Our man Aaron Sampson worked really well today. Because of him and his toughness, we were able to get through and our offensive efficiency was very good.”

That opening half became quite the abnormality to the eyes of regular Forks football viewers.

The first quarter concluded with a 7-6 count, but then came a three-TD-apiece second quarter.

Glens Falls’ Girard on an indescribably delicious 79-yard rush, then Forks’ Watson from 12 … Balcom on a 16-yard reception, then Watson rushing 60 for the answer 15 seconds later … Balcom again, this time a 19-yard reception from Girard, then the Devils’ Dan Crowningshield caressing a bull’s-eye loft from 9 yards by Bogue 21 seconds before halftime.

It was 27-apiece. Twenty-four minutes remained.

Forks’ 2016-high yield in a game before Saturday was 20, and the 2015 high-water mark by an opponent was 28. In 2014, it was 21. The year before, it was 27.

“Not only are they fast but they’re elusive, including the quarterback,” Hogan said. “The quarterback can run around back there, buy time, and he runs the ball, obviously. He runs and throws and he’s got 3-4 receivers he can throw to and that No. 2 (Sampson) was just an outstanding runner in the backfield.

“Pretty tough to guess what they’re going to do because they have a lot of different options.”

McDonald closed with 90 rushing yards for Forks. Indians quarterback Girard rushed for 94, passed for 62 and generally saw to it Forks defenders did not get comfortable for a single snap.

Glens Falls football wins state championship

Glens Falls tougher at end

James Allen, Albany Times-Union

Not only can the Glens Falls football team stretch an opponent's defense all over the length and width of the field, but its special teams also can do the same in the return game. Chenango Forks found out both those painful realities Saturday afternoon.

But in a contest filled with superlative offensive exploits from both teams, the game's most critical moment came down to making a stop on a two-point conversion attempt with 37 seconds left in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association's Class B final.

Glens Falls did stop star senior running back LJ Watson and edged Chenango Forks 47-39 to win the program's first state championship.

After the stop, Chenango Forks attempted an onside kick, and Andrew Murphy returned it 50 yards for touchdown. That only took seven seconds, so the Indians still needed another defensive stop.

Sophomore standout Joseph Girard III sealed the victory with an interception with three seconds left.

The Blue Devils were stopped in their attempt to win four consecutive titles after Class C championships in 2015, 2014 and 2013.

"My first thoughts are this is humbling and I am grateful. That is the definite feeling I get," Glens Falls coach Pat Lilac said.

"It sort of feels like it hasn't happened. It hasn't really hit me yet," Murphy said. "It is my last game. We did it the best way possible."

"All I can say is this is the greatest feeling in my life, so far," Glens Falls senior two-way lineman Lucas Sanders said. "We finished what we set out to finish: winning a state title."

"I have dreamed about this for years. It finally came true," Glens Falls junior receiver/defensive back Quinn Girard said.

Sanders and junior end Tony Green stuffed Watson, who led the Blue Devils with 189 yards rushing, on a run up the middle to thwart the two-point try. Watson's progress also was impeded when he ran into quarterback Cody Bogue.

"They were physical and just never gave up," Sanders said of the Blue Devils. "They just wouldn't go away, but that is what you would expect in a state championship. We wanted a hard-fought game. We got that."

Glens Falls (13-0) managed to overcome committing 12 penalties for 116 yards, including two calls that took away touchdowns.

The Indians produced 384 yards on offense in the hard-hitting tussle, and produced 206 yards on six kick returns to set up short-field opportunities. Junior running back Aaron Sampson ran for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Joseph Girard added 97 yards and two touchdowns, including an electrifying 79-yard score during which he reversed field twice and diced his way through the defense on a touchdown scamper that consumed 21 seconds.

"We didn't just want to get to the Dome. We wanted to win it," Girard said. "We knew it would be a hard-fought game with Chenango Forks. It feels surreal to be able to bring a title back home."

"To beat a team like them in such a close game makes it that much more special," Lilac said.

Chenango Forks rolled up 397 yards (307 coming on the ground on 52 attempts) and chewed up 30 minutes of possession time.

"We had to keep punching our stuff in on offense. We knew they were going to keep doing their thing on offense," said Glens Falls senior captain Dylan Balcom, who scored on two touchdown passes from Girard. "They are a very good team. Much respect to them, but we got a huge stop on that last possession."

In a contest featuring 86 points, it was the defense from Glens Falls that made two monster stops to seal the victory.

"A very satisfying feeling," Sampson said. "We've accomplished our goal. It really feels amazing."

History for Glens Falls

Pete Tobey - Glens Falls Post-Star

SYRACUSE ­ Facing a make-or-break play Saturday, the Glens Falls Indians stepped up and delivered one last bone-crunching tackle.

Noah Dixon, Lucas Sanders and a host of defenders collapsed on Chenango Forks' L.J. Watson inside the 1-yard line, denying the Blue Devils a go-ahead two-point conversion with 37 seconds left.

Andrew Murphy then returned the ensuing onside kickoff for a touchdown to seal a Class B state football championship for Glens Falls with a 47-39 victory.

Joseph Girard III's interception in the final seconds wrapped up a perfect 13-0 season and the Indians' first state football championship.

"This is the most surreal feeling ­ to put in all the work we put in all year, it just came together for this one game," senior safety Brandon Vachon said. "It took a lot of hard work, preparation and Glens Falls toughness."

"It's a great feeling, it's great to bring it back to our small community that's put so much time and effort into helping us get there," said Sanders, the senior nose guard who was named the game's top defensive lineman.

"For such a big sports town as Glens Falls is, and these kids being so proud that they're from Glens Falls, I just think it's huge," said head coach Pat Lilac, whose 2012 team had lost in the Dome. "It's something that can never be taken away from them and something they should cherish and be proud of for the rest of their lives."

In a wild back-and-forth game at the Carrier Dome, Glens Falls survived every last haymaker thrown by a Chenango Forks team that was trying to
win its fourth straight state title. The Blue Devils (12-1), winners of 23 straight games heading into Saturday, had won the last three Class C titles and moved up to Class B this season.

"We didn't make it easy on ourselves again," said Lilac, whose team overcame 12 penalties for 116 yards in losses. "But to beat a team like that in such a close game makes it that much more special, against a team that's won three state titles in a row."

In a second quarter that saw the teams combine for 41 points, each time the Indians took the lead, Chenango Forks had an answer. The Indians scored on six of their first eight possessions, but the Blue Devils scored on five of their first seven, including a touchdown just before halftime to tie the score 27-27.

"They wouldn't go away," said senior Aaron Sampson, the game's outstanding offensive back, who led Glens Falls with 165 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. "When we first got to 27 and they were down (six), I was like, 'This could be it.' But they stopped us, they got the ball back and scored."

"They scored a few points, but each time, I knew we would come back with a big score and that's what happened today," said Girard, the game's most outstanding player, who passed to Dylan Balcom for two touchdowns and ran for two more, including a 79-yarder in the second quarter.

Girard gave Glens Falls the lead for good, 40-33, on a 3-yard touchdown run on fourth and goal with 8:54 left in regulation.

After the teams exchanged punts, Chenango Forks marched 68 yards in 12 plays ­ converting two fourth downs ­ on a drive capped by Cody Bogue's 16-yard touchdown pass to Connor Borchardt with 37 seconds left.

Opting to go for two, the Blue Devils turned to Watson, who rushed for a game-high 191 yards and two touchdowns.

"They had scored two touchdowns on the boot play-action pass ­ I thought for sure it was going to be a play-action pass to the tight end," Lilac said. "But you can't fault them for (running), they were averaging more than 3 yards a carry."

Tripped up by Isaiah Prunty at the line, Watson was hammered from the side by Dixon, and brought down short of the goal line by a host of tacklers, including Sanders, Dakota Trombley and Tony Green. That preserved Glens Falls' 40-39 lead.

"Izzy (Prunty) hit him in the hip ­ that slowed him down a bit," said Dixon, a senior lineman who finished with 11 tackles. "And we came through and finished him."

"I thought they were going to try to pass it, and then I saw (the linemen) both deuce (double-team) on me, so I tried to squeeze through," Sanders said. "I saw (Watson) coming, he bounced this way, Tony got his legs, and then we all just ganged up on him, team effort."

"It was either do or die, we were going to win or going to lose ­ and we really love winning," Girard said. "Our winning instinct showed up on that tackle."

The sense of relief was palpable on the Glens Falls sideline.

"It felt great emotionally when we got that stop ­ we knew we needed that stop," Green said.

"I was just so grateful ­ I couldn't feel my body," Dixon said. "It's such a humbling experience, so great to bring one back to Glens Falls."

There was still the matter of finishing the final 37 seconds ­ and the Indians did so in stunning fashion.

Murphy ­ the senior speedster who had been kept quiet, other than a few jet sweeps ­ scooped up the onside kickoff at the Chenango Forks 48 and raced in for the touchdown.

"Since I was getting doubled (double-teamed), I was like, 'Here's my chance to actually score in this game,'" Murphy said.

The Indians could not truly relax until 10 seconds left, when Girard intercepted Bogue's long pass down the middle. After a minor dustup between players, Glens Falls kneeled out the win, then mobbed each other in celebration.

"It feels crazy, the place was boomin', the environment's crazy, there's nothing like it," Sampson said.

"It's really humbling and I'm just grateful," said Lilac, who picked up his 105th coaching victory. "In Glens Falls there's been three football coaches (in the last 64 years) of the program ­ Putt LaMay, Paul Bricoccoli and myself. I just feel so fortunate to continue what those two built. This is kind of the fruition of everything that started with Putt all they way up to 2016."

Special teams do the job for Indians

Will Springstead , Glens Falls Post-Star

SYRACUSE ­ If anyone says that special teams aren’t exciting, the Glens Falls Indians will respond with a big “oh, yeah?”

The Indians had six kickoff returns for 206 yards and one touchdown in the Indians’ 47-39 win over Chenango Forks in the Class B final of the State Football Tournament at the Carrier Dome on Saturday.

Twice, the Blue Devils kicked it in a way that the Indians chose not to return it. But if the Indians had running room, run they did.

Dylan Balcom’s 48-yard return gave Glens Falls the ball on Forks’ 39. Three plays later, Aaron Sampson scored the Indians’ first touchdown.

After a Forks score tied the game at 14, another kickoff went to Balcom at the Glens Falls 21. He brought it back to Forks’ 45. Again, the good field position led to a score: Balcom’s 16-yard touchdown reception.

“That’s a shoutout to all our blockers in front of us,” Balcom said. “They hit the guys in front of us, and we work around it and try to find our holes.”

Forks’ next kickoff found Aaron Sampson at the Glens Falls 22. He brought it out to the 46. Seven plays later, Balcom gathered in a tipped pass in the end zone.

Even when it didn’t result in a score, it put a scare into Forks. The Indians’ final kickoff return of the first half, a 48-yarder by Sampson, brought the ball to the Blue Devils’ 28 with 12 seconds left.

“The key was good blocks and our backs returning the kicks, read them, do what we do,” Sampson said. “We know we have the speed, so as soon as you get out in the open field, we knew it wasn’t a problem. It was just breaking them, and we broke a couple.”

As Glens Falls coach Pat Lilac said, neither team was trying to kick it to each other’s deep guys, but Glens Falls’ returners found a way to get to the ball and make things happen.

“They were huge,” Lilac said of the returns. “They were trying to play keepaway from Aaron and Andrew (Murphy), and Dylan Balcom came up huge with two long returns that put us right there on the doorstep. Contributions from everyone.”

Of course, Glens Falls saved its biggest return for last. With Glens Falls clinging to a 40-39 lead and 37 seconds left, everyone in attendance knew an onsides kick was coming. Murphy took one step over midfield, snagged the ball at the Forks 48, eluded one defender and sprinted into the end zone for the insurance score.

“When we started to spring a couple, we started to get more confidence,” Balcom said. “We thought we could bust one out quick, and we did on the onsides, we were able to get loose.”

State notebook: Speed gave Glens Falls edge in state title game

Pete Tobey & Will Springstead - Glens Falls Post-Star

SYRACUSE ­ In a game that was a dogfight of back-and-forth scoring on the football field, Glens Falls had one big edge: speed.

The Indians, who proved far faster than any of their competition leading up to Saturday’s Class B state championship game, consistently beat Chenango Forks to the corner on offense. Their quickness also helped tremendously on defense, as Glens Falls closed gaps quickly in its 47-39 victory.

“Coming into this game we knew we had more speed than they did on defense and on offense, so getting to the perimeter wasn’t going to be the problem,” Indians junior running back Aaron Sampson said. “It was our defense that came up big at the end. I’m so grateful for them and all the work that they put in.”

Four of Glens Falls’ speedsters ­ Sampson, seniors Andrew Murphy and Dylan Balcom, and sophomore quarterback Joseph Girard III ­ made big impacts on both sides of the ball with their quickness. Sampson (165 yards) and Girard (98 yards) both scored twice, as did Balcom on scoring passes of 16 and 19 yards from Girard.

“A lot of times when you play against a team that has one player with speed, it’s almost like the team can slow him down if everybody does their own job,” Chenango Forks head coach Dave Hogan said. “But they had multiple kids who can run. … They had a lot of kids who were very, very fast.”

The Indians also did plenty of damage on kick returns, collecting 206 yards on six returns.

“We could say all we want that they’re fast and elusive, but some of that’s got to fall on us,” Hogan said. “The kids would be the first to tell you that we could have done a better job tackling. It’s more challenging when they’re that fast and that elusive, but we certainly could have done better that way.”

­ Pete Tobey

Quiet day

Murphy had a relative quiet day ­ the result of being double-teamed all afternoon by the Chenango Forks defense.

A week after catching seven passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns, Murphy was held without a catch. He did pick up 47 yards on five jet sweep plays, his specialty as the team’s slot receiver.

But there was a side effect to committing too much to cover Murphy.

“That opened Dylan up, it opened Tony (Green) up, Aaron (Sampson) had a big catch out of the backfield,” Glens Falls head coach Pat Lilac said.

Girard was only 4 for 10 passing, but Balcom had two touchdown catches in the second quarter, and another that was negated by a penalty. Green snagged a catch one-handed on a fourth-down pass to keep a second-quarter scoring drive alive.

­ Pete Tobey

G.F. captures awards

Beside Joseph Girard III’s overall MVP award, Glens Falls won the bigger share of postgame awards.

Aaron Sampson was named the game’s most valuable offensive back. He rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. Quinn Girard was named most valuable defensive back. He had 14 tackles, including 11 solo. Lucas Sanders (seven tackles) was the most valuable defensive lineman and Chris George won Glens Falls’ sportsmanship award.

­ Will Springstead

Winchester update

Cambridge senior tackle/linebacker Lucas Winchester suffered a neck injury during Friday’s Class D state championship game, but was doing all right Friday night.

According to a family friend’s Facebook post that was relayed on Twitter, Winchester suffered a transverse non-displaced fracture of his C6 vertebra on a scary collision with Maple Grove quarterback Dalton Dubois late in the third quarter.

Head coach Doug Luke said Winchester was resting at home, he’s in a neck brace, but he should be OK.

“They said it’ll probably be a month or a little more before he’s able to do anything,” Luke said. “There’s no long-term (nerve) damage, it’ll just take time to heal.”

Despite the injury, Winchester received the game’s most outstanding offensive lineman award, which senior Max Hoffer accepted in his absence after Friday’s game.

Don’t see that often

One of Glens Falls’ 12 penalties in the game was an unusual one: sideline interference.

The call came after a 17-yard Chenango Forks run down the Glens Falls sideline in the first quarter. The referees must have room to move up and down the sideline, and they apparently didn’t on that play. It resulted in another 15 yards down to Glens Falls’ 30.

Six plays later, the Blue Devils scored to take a 6-0 lead.

­Will Springstead

Great second effort

Glens Falls’ first touchdown was made possible by Aaron Sampson’s second effort.

Sampson scored on a 17-yard run going to his left. He got hit by a would-be tackler at the 8 and nearly went down, but stayed on his feet and got into the end zone.

Forks’ big guns

The Blue Devils’ best player ­ senior running back L.J. Watson ­ gave the Indians fits on some big runs that were well-blocked, including a 60-yard touchdown just after Glens Falls had taken a 20-14 second-quarter lead.

However, Glens Falls got just enough stops on him and backfield mate Tim McDonald when it counted, especially in the second half.

“He’s a fast, strong athlete, but we put it to him ­ just swarm in and get it done,” Indians junior linebacker Dakota Trombley said.

Still, Watson finished with a game-high 191 yards and McDonald added 94 more, with each scoring twice. Chenango Forks outgained Glens Falls in total yards, 400-384.

­ Pete Tobey

Griffen’s moment

Senior Josh Griffen, Glens Falls’ two-year starting quarterback who lost his job to his cousin Joseph Girard III this season, got into the game on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Griffen lined up at quarterback and dropped back to pass, got flushed out of the pocket and scrambled for an 8-yard gain. It was part of the Indians’ touchdown drive that gave them a 40-33 lead with 8:54 left in the game.

“This is amazing ­ six of us came up as sophomores and freshmen, and we had to grind and grind for two years, and now we finish it the right way,” Griffen said.

Glens Falls Indians win Class B state football championship

Pete Tobey - Glens Falls Post-Star

SYRACUSE ­ Glens Falls gave its followers a Thanksgiving to remember, winning the school's first state football title Saturday at the Carrier Dome.

The Indians scored a 47-39 victory over Chenango Forks in the Class B final, finishing the season a perfect 13-0. It wrapped up a big weekend for local football teams, coming on the heels of Cambridge's Class D title on Friday.

Glens Falls and Chenango Forks engaged in an offensive shootout in the first half, playing to a 27-all tie. But it was a big defensive stop that won the game for Glens Falls late in the fourth quarter.

Chenango Forks' Connor Borchardt caught a 16-yard touchdown pass with 37 seconds left to cut Glens Falls' lead to 40-39. The Blue Devils opted to go for two points, but running back L.J. Watson was stopped short of the goal line ­ by about a half-yard ­ by Noah Dixon, Isaiah Prunty, Dakota Trombley and Lucas Sanders.

The Indians then added an insurance score on the next play, as Andrew Murphy snagged the onside kick at Forks' 48, dodged one tackle and out-sprinted everyone else to the end zone. Andrew Stamatel's extra point made it 47-39.

Forks had one more shot at heroics, but Cody Bogue's long pass down the sideline was overthrown and intercepted by the game's most valuable player, Joseph Girard III. He danced around for several seconds to kill time and the Indians' fans filled the Dome with their exultant screams.

Many players contributed to Glens Falls' win. From Girard scoring on a crazy 79-yard run on the first play of the second quarter, to defensive back Quinn Girard's 14 tackles, to Aaron Sampson's 165 yards rushing, to Dylan Balcom's catching a tipped pass in the end zone for a touchdown ­ if they wore the white, red and black of the Indians, they had a hand in the historic moment.

"We know what we're going to get from Aaron, we know what we're going to get from Joe, but Tony Green makes a great one-handed catch, the offensive line dominated that early part of the second half and Aaron did his thing," Glens Falls coach Pat Lilac said. "To have so many contribute to the win like that, I don't know what else to say."

In earning the game's MVP award, Joseph Girard rushed for 97 yards, threw for 62 (on 5 of 11 passing) and had the game-sealing interception. On his 79-yard scoring run, he started left, turned back to his right, stutter-stepped some defenders, cut down the right sideline and weaved past another defender on his way to the end zone.

"It was Q-stretch 7," Joseph Girard said, "which means the quarterback is keeping it and going to the left. I didn't see any holes there, but the line was holding up, so I knew I could go the other way and reverse field. That's what I had to do, but I knew I had to make a few guys miss. The backs and receivers did a great job blocking."

"We've been dreaming about this since third, fourth grade," Quinn Girard said. "When my brother's team went in 2012, that's been our goal for these years coming up."

Preview Article(s) 

Unbeaten foe awaits unbeaten Forks in title game

Kevin Stevens - Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

Not since a sweat-sopped September night in Endicott has an opponent closed within three touchdowns of Chenango Forks’ football juggernaut.

Come noon Saturday, the top-ranked Blue Devils will encounter an opponent with credentials to suggest that pattern could ­ just maybe ­ be in for a twist.

Fellow unbeaten Glens Falls will align opposite Forks for the Class B state title game in the Carrier Dome with hopes of halting the Devils’ streak of three championships.

Section 2’s champions similarly have not been tested since Week 2. The Indians have won their last 10 by a 37.5-point average, scoring 42 or more in all but one and allowing 14 or fewer in all but two.

“You can tell they have very good team speed, they’re physical­ and they’re unbeaten,” said Forks coach David Hogan, sizing up the final obstacle between the Blue Devils and a state record-matching fourth consecutive state title. That standard was established by Maine-Endwell (2011-14).

Forks is one of eight Section 4 programs that have won state championships since the football tournament originated in 1993, and one of three to win multiple titles (five). Maine-Endwell has won five and Walton two. Forks is looking to head off the program’s fifth season as a 12-1 state runner-up. That’s how the Devils concluded the 2001, '02, '05 and '07 seasons.

Glens Falls, in state playoffs for a third time, advanced to the 2012 ‘B’ final before being slammed by Maine-Endwell, 42-12.

The Indians are fresh off a 49-14 semifinal win over Pleasantville (Section 1 champion from Westchester County) in which sophomore quarterback Joseph Girard III passed 17-for-22 for 304 yards and five touchdowns, with speedy Andrew Murphy taking his seven receptions for 188 yards. Aaron Sampson rushed for 128 yards and three TDs on a day the Warren County squad outgained Pleasantville, 489-268.

“They have a very athletic quarterback. From what I’m hearing he’s already got looks from some major D-I basketball schools,” Hogan said of Girard. “He’s young, but he can already play the game.”

Murphy and Sampson were likewise conspicuous to Forks coaches during film study, as was 265-pound senior Lucas Sanders, a two-way lineman. “Seems like he’s going to make an athletic move and be noticed, because of his stature as well as his athleticism,” Hogan said of the latter.

Glens Falls will run into offensive and defensive lines that have proven to be Section 4’s finest, surrounded by impactful athletes at most every turn.

Running back L.J. Watson presents the greatest offensive threat, and shares backfield space with fellow senior Tim McDonald­ each of whom exceeded 100-yard rushing games in a 41-8 semifinal whacking of Dunkirk. Watson and two-way line ace Ryan Ehrets are fourth-season varsity starters who were first-team all-state as juniors, and McDonald’s a three-year man.

A largely concealed aspect of the Blue Devils’ offense has been a passing game headed by senior Cody Bogue. Hogan will not hesitate to instruct Bogue to throw the football when the situation warrants­ with Watson, Connor Borchardt and Dan Crowningshield among those receiving and advancing thereafter.

Forks’ lone tight ballgame, 21-7 against Union-Endicott, was played in Week 2 and brought the Blue Devils’ lone deficit of 2016.

What’ll it take to close a Forks football season undefeated for the first time since 2004?

“I’d say the same thing every week: We have to have a good start,” said Hogan, 93-11 since succeeding Kelsey Green as head coach in 2008. “We’re always, always talking about not trying to do too much. You just want to do your job. It’s a big deal, but at the same time you’re still just focusing on what you have to do.

“ ‘It’s just another game,’ you hear the seniors saying that. ‘It’s just another game and we’re trying to get better.’

“We just want to play our game, try to keep the same focus each week. That’s pretty simple, we’re trying to get better and we’re trying to stay mentally sharp.”

Glens Falls faces tough challenge in state final

Pete Tobey - Glens Falls Post-Star

QUEENSBURY ­ A nickname has sprung up around this Glens Falls Indians football team: The Fastest Show on Turf.

It's a play on the Kurt Warner-era St. Louis Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf" teams at the turn of the 21st century, but what better way to describe a Glens Falls spread offense that is loaded with speed, exceptional playmakers, competitive spirits and more speed.

Glens Falls fans come to see the show ­ sophomore quarterback Joseph Girard III artfully dodging the rush and delivering precision passes to an array of speedy receivers, Aaron Sampson slicing through a defense, or Andrew Murphy doing something special every game.

It's not just offense, but players shine on defense and special teams, too, and not just the aforementioned stars. It's the Fastest Show on Turf whether the Indians have the ball or not.

"It's fitting to our identity," Sampson said of the team's moniker. "We've had a lot of games where we made big plays on special teams or defense ­ it's not just offense. We try to go out every down ­ it doesn't matter what it is, offense, defense or special teams ­ and put on a show for everybody."

Glens Falls will face its biggest test on Saturday at high noon at the Carrier Dome in the Class B state championship game. The third-ranked Indians will see if they can topple the king of the mountain ­ No. 1-ranked Chenango Forks ­ in a showdown of 12-0 teams.

The Section IV champion Blue Devils have won three straight state titles in Class C, and moved up to Class B this season to chase their fourth in a row. Chenango Forks features a massive offensive line that has paved the way for one of the state's best rushing attacks, spearheaded by the outstanding L.J. Watson, a 2,000-yard rusher.

"It's two contrasting styles," said Glens Falls head coach Pat Lilac, in his 17th season at the Indians' helm. "The thing I'm worried about is their physicality wearing us down, and also playing keepaway from us.

"We're hoping to get our athletes some space and make them tackle us ­ we do have the ability to break a tackle and go," Lilac added. "We have to have our share of big plays to be in this thing."

Glens Falls' explosive offense (546 points) is not lost on the Blue Devils, who defeated Rye Neck, Hoosick Falls and Greenwich in the last three Class C state title games.

"Glens Falls is definitely scary," said Chenango Forks head coach Dave Hogan, whose team is coming off a 41-8 state semifinal win over Dunkirk, its 23rd straight win. "They've got our attention.

"They have a very talented quarterback who can run, scramble and throw the ball, and he's got some receivers to throw to," Hogan added. "They're pretty solid up front and their defense is tough, too. They play with a lot of enthusiasm and confidence, and you can see why."

Glens Falls returns to the Carrier Dome for the first time since 2012, when it dropped a 42-12 loss to powerful Maine-Endwell.

Girard has excelled in his first season as the Indians' starting quarterback, completing 67 percent of his passes for 1,575 yards and 22 touchdowns. Murphy has caught 40 passes for 888 yards and 12 scores, and has 22 touchdowns overall. Sampson has rushed for 1,164 yards and 17 TDs.

In last week's 49-14 state semifinal win over Pleasantville, Girard passed for 304 yards and five touchdowns.

"We'll mix and match and try to find matchups we like, just like we do every game," Lilac said. "We try to make teams defend the whole field, and Joe does a great job making decisions on who to throw to."

"This team is quicker off the ball (than Pleasantville), but this team's D-line will chase the ball down, so we have to make sure we stay on our blocks," said senior Lucas Sanders, who anchors both lines.

Glens Falls' defense will face a very tough challenge ­ slowing down the 1-2 punch of Watson and Tim McDonald, who have combined for nearly 3,000 yards and 48 touchdowns. The 6-foot, 190-pound Watson, a four-year starter, is a blend of power and elusiveness that is drawing attention from the FCS and Division II levels. He runs behind an experienced line anchored by center Ryan Ehrets, another four-year starter.

"I think they'll try to keep it away from our offense, keep trying to pound it and use the clock to their advantage and keep our offense off the field," Sampson said. "We have to come up big on defense."

Chenango Forks has quite a legacy in New York state football. The Binghamton-area power has won five state titles and is playing in its 10th state final since 2001. The Blue Devils thumped Greenwich 42-7 in last year's final, producing three 100-yard rushers.

Glens Falls has not faced this kind of power-running team in weeks ­ the Indians have played mostly spread teams since facing Schuylerville's flexbone attack in Week 6.

"They're big and strong up front, and they'll be tough to stop," Indians assistant coach Dave Casey said. "But they have to stop us, too."