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On their way

Surrounded by well-wishers Friday afternoon, members of the Glens Falls Indians walk toward a bus at Glens Falls High School prior to departing for Syracuse for Saturday's Class B New York state championship game at the Carrier Dome. 

Kyle Vachon said he got his best night’s sleep in a year last week, after Glens Falls defeated Marlboro 48-28 in the state football semifinals.

That victory put the Indians into Saturday’s Class B state championship game against undefeated Batavia. The game kicks off at noon at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.

It also got the monkey off the Indians’ back after falling short in the 2017 state semifinals, a loss that ended their reign as state champs.

“Just to finally get that weight off that I’m not missing the state championship this year,” said Vachon, a senior linebacker/offensive tackle and one of three current Glens Falls players who started on the Indians’ state championship team two years ago.

“Just to have that opportunity to be there and win it and do it all over again like we did in 2016 is just takes all the weight off my back,” he added. “One more rep, one more set, 10 more pounds — all that work has paid off and I can finally think clearly again.”

The Indians spent the week practicing mostly inside the dome at the Adirondack Sports Complex, getting ready for their second state championship appearance in three years.

Also mobilizing for a trip to Syracuse is the rest of GF Nation, the Indians’ red-and-black clad supporters who will cheer them on from the Carrier Dome bleachers. Glens Falls, which also reached the state finals in 2012, is the only Section II football team to make it to Syracuse this year.

The Indians enjoy the fan support and said they feed off their energy, and that adds to the excitement of a state championship game.

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“No matter what sport it is, Glens Falls has always been behind each other,” senior quarterback Joseph Girard III said.

“It means everything to us,” senior receiver Trent Girard said. “All of our moms are unbelievable — every game we each get two big gift bags with Gatorade and fruit snacks and everything. And when we get back after we win, we’ve got about 50 people there honking their horns as loud as they can, screaming for us. We pull up to games, they’re already there — it’s insane.”

“It’s the spirit and all that,” sophomore running back Aalijah Sampson said. “Everyone is always there, we have buses and the students and parents all come down. It’s a great feeling.”

Many of this year’s starters were brought up from the junior varsity as sophomores and freshmen during their run to the state title in 2016.

“This obviously means a lot more because I’ve been a part of the team the whole year,” senior linebacker Connor Girard said. “Just to be able to go out there and play one last time in the state championship game — most kids aren’t able to do that, and for me and my team to have that opportunity is just unbelievable.”

“We’re not only doing it for each other, but for the whole community,” junior receiver/defensive end David Barclay said. “Last year was tough, losing in that state semifinal. This year we avenged that loss, and we’re just hoping to play the best we can in the Dome.”

Head coach Pat Lilac said the team appreciates the efforts of local businesses, boosters and parents to make this a special time, especially on Thanksgiving weekend.

“These guys have a general sense of being grateful and thankful for everything that the community has done, and it is a great feeling when you have that support,” Lilac said. “And the whole thing ties into each other, we feed off of that and the community gets excited about it, so I think it’s a really good thing for both groups.”

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Follow Pete Tobey on Twitter @PTobeyPSVarsity.

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reporter

Covering high school and minor-league sports in Section II since 1989. SUNY Plattsburgh grad. Colleen's lesser half. Three amazing young people call me Dad. Fan of Philadelphia Eagles, New York Rangers and Mets, and Syracuse Orange.

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