This Jug has a little extra juice, and it’s only the third week of football season.
The Glens Falls-Hudson Falls gridiron rivalry begins its second century Saturday, and after two games with heated exchanges and physical play last year, the 46th Jug Game presents another hotly contested matchup.
The 1:30 p.m. game at Glens Falls’ Putt LaMay Memorial Field matches two teams with very competitive personalities. Both come in at 1-0 in Class B North and 2-0 overall, and the winner has the inside track to home-field advantage in sectionals.
“It’s always a big game, always a big week. Everybody’s looking forward to it with both of us 2-0 right now,” Glens Falls senior quarterback Joseph Girard III said. “It’s going to be a tough matchup, they’re tough kids who can get the job done and they’ll put up a fight.”
“They’re an all-around football team, they have a lot of athletes,” Hudson Falls senior quarterback Caleb Condon said. “It’s just fun to play against them.”
Recent history has been firmly with the Indians, the No. 2-ranked Class B team in the state. Since Hudson Falls’ win in 2014, Glens Falls has dominated the last four meetings by an average score of 45-4, including wins of 44-0 in the Jug Game, and 42-8 in their Class B semifinal last season. Glens Falls leads the Jug Game series 35-10, and holds a 58-37-1 edge all-time since 1917.
“The past few years it hasn’t been real close, but that could all change this year, so we can’t take them lightly,” Indians senior linebacker Kyle Vachon said. “Their line is physical and so are their skill players and quarterback, so it’s going to be a physical game on both sides. We have to match their intensity.”
“I think the talent gap has really shrunk, without question,” Glens Falls head coach Pat Lilac said. “When you have playmakers like they have, you’re one play away from making something happen.”
Usually, the player making things happen has been Girard. He accounted for all six of Glens Falls’ touchdowns in a 43-14 opening win over Schuylerville. Last week, Girard produced four more, including two scoring runs in the decisive final minutes of a 36-28 win at Cobleskill. He also has playmakers like Aalijah Sampson, David Barclay and Hogan Fox to rely on, but receiver Noah Balcom is out with a knee injury.
“Defensively, it’s a challenge — they have a Division I athlete at quarterback and a very fast supporting cast,” Hudson Falls head coach Bill Strong said. “You have to do your absolute best to contest everything and make them run plays, and not give up big plays, make them earn their yards. Cobleskill was able to do that for some time, but it’s hard to keep their big plays down.”
The Tigers’ approach Saturday calls for efficient, ball-control offense. Hudson Falls, which opened with wins over Johnstown (45-8) and South Glens Falls (26-14), is sparked by Condon, a big line and athletes like Riley Maddison, Brennan Prevost and Jaylen Pritchett.
“Whenever you play a team as good as they are, you have to take care of the ball and not give them any extra possessions,” Strong said. “Then on offense, we have to make sure that our execution is impeccable, no missed assignments and no penalties, try to play as clean as possible so you don’t waste any snaps.”
“We’ve been a defense that hasn’t given up the big play, and last week we gave up three long touchdowns,” Lilac said. “Hudson Falls has that ability, so we can’t have any blown assignments and we need to make teams drive the field.”
Both teams also hope to keep their emotions in check, not an easy task in a rivalry game.
“At the end of the day, you are your real opponent — you’re just trying to be the best you can become,” Lilac said. “So trying to balance that — temper the emotions, tell them it’s really not (the other team), it’s about us — I think that’s the best way to handle those rivalry games. When you lose your mind, that’s when things go wrong.”
“We’re just out there competing,” Girard said. “I know that’s what Hudson Falls is doing, too. It’s just a bunch of competitors and kids who like to win. In the end, that’s what it comes down to.”