GLENS FALLS — Playing games after the end of daylight saving creates a sort of cram session for football teams racing the sunset while preparing for unfamiliar opponents.
For Glens Falls, making its third straight foray into the state Class B playoffs, it meant a long series of drills against the scout offense earlier this week before Friday’s state quarterfinal game against Beekmantown, set for 7 p.m. at Shenendehowa High School.
The winner advances to the state semifinals next Saturday at 3 p.m. at Middletown High School, against either Marlboro or Ardsley.
It was a spirited practice session for the Indians, who were working hard with smiles on their faces.
“It’s tough to squeeze everything in with the sunlight (fading), but they’ve done a good job of being focused and staying upbeat,” Glens Falls head coach Pat Lilac said. “It’s a long season, we’ve been going at it for a while, and they seem kind of fresh.
“It’s exciting but it’s a different kind of excitement,” Lilac added. “With the familiarity of the teams in Section II, it’s one thing — you know you have big games and you get excited about it. But the unknown when you get to the state tournament, it’s a different kind of excitement that you’re venturing out, above and beyond.”
The Indians come in ranked eighth in the state with an 8-2 record, their only two losses coming to Class A finalists Queensbury and Burnt Hills. They are coming off back-to-back shutouts, and have allowed one touchdown — late in a 61-6 win over Ravena — in 12 playoff quarters.
Glens Falls rolled to a 40-0 victory over Cobleskill in the Section II championship game Saturday, keeping the Bulldogs under wraps and getting pressure on their quarterback. The Indians’ last two shutouts coincided with the return of linebacker Kyle Vachon from injury.
“The kids have been really engaged and focused, and if they stay that way, we’re tough defensively,” Lilac said. “Kyle coming back really elevated our play over there and if they’re really dialed in, they can play some good defense.”
The Indians will face a challenge in Beekmantown, as the Section VII champion Eagles (8-1) use multiple schemes and formations. They defeated Peru 14-6 in a snowstorm two weeks ago, then shut out Potsdam 15-0 last week. Beekmantown’s only loss was to Class D Moriah, 24-0 in a meaningless Week 8 game.
The Eagles use two quarterbacks — Brandon Belrose and Cade Preston — with different skill sets. Beekmantown is a deep team with 45 players on its roster, led by scatback Christian Moura, who has rushed for 824 yards and seven touchdowns.
“Teams that face us have to be ready for a lot of different things. We have so many weapons on offense,” said Beekmantown head coach Jamie Lozier, whose team is in the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2013, but has never advanced beyond in five tries. “We have 20 seniors and they’ve all been together since seventh grade. Our goal is to get past this game.”
“There’s so many things to try to prepare for, I think that’s the most difficult thing, and defensively they’re all over the place,” Lilac said. “The thing that’s tough is they do have speed spread throughout. They run four or five different looks at you and different blitzes, coverages and fronts. So you can’t really know where to attack, you have to make adjustments on the fly.”
Glens Falls features the outstanding talents of senior quarterback Joseph Girard III, who has completed 63 percent of his passes for 2,172 yards and 29 touchdowns. Trent Girard, David Barclay and Aalijah Sampson all have 22 or more receptions. Sampson and Cooper Montgomery both topped 90 yards rushing Saturday.
“They have a lot of good athletes, I think we match up pretty well,” Lozier said. “We’re hoping to not give up the big play.”
Glens Falls has one clear advantage — the Indians have played several games at the state level, and they have a competitive drive to return to the Carrier Dome after falling in the state semifinals last year.
“The good thing is we have so many guys with experience,” Lilac said, “especially at the quarterback spot, and some of the key offensive linemen have all played in a lot of games together, so that can’t hurt.”