A trio of area high school football teams kick off the season this weekend with hopes of returning to championship form in 2019.
Meanwhile, another local team debuts Friday night as a merger of two long-standing programs.
While Glens Falls, Cambridge-Salem and Warrensburg return to action as defending Section II champs in classes B, C and D, respectively, it’s a whole new ballgame for Corinth-Fort Edward.
The two small-school programs have come together as the Warhawks, in what has been called a temporary merger while both schools build up their participation numbers. C-FE had 37 players in camp this preseason.
“It’s great having the kids come together, and with the numbers we have, it’s nice having kids at the right positions, not forcing them into a position they’re not suited for,” said Jeff Tully, the former Fort Edward coach who is co-head coach with Corinth’s Brian Bowe.
The Warhawks — a Class C team playing an independent schedule against mostly Class D teams — open the season Friday with a 7 p.m. non-league game at Hoosick Falls.
“We’re just looking to come out and be aggressive,” Tully said. “Hoosick Falls has a great tradition, and we’ll have to be physical and do well in the trenches. Hoosick Falls will be a good measuring stick for us — they’ll tell us a lot about ourselves.”
Glens Falls begins the post-JG3 era on Saturday with a 1:30 p.m. Class B North game against visiting Lansingburgh. Star quarterback Joseph Girard III and many of his teammates responsible for last year’s second state championship in three years are gone.
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However, the Indians have plenty of weapons returning and expect to contend for a fourth straight Section II title.
“The first game you’re always concerned with limiting your mistakes, especially on special teams because you haven’t gone live against another team yet,” Indians head coach Pat Lilac said. “You scrimmage offense and defense (last week), but you didn’t get the full-game flow. You just try to go out and execute to your best ability.”
Cambridge-Salem opens Friday at 7 p.m. at Greenwich in a Class C North clash, and those Indians also have their sights set on a fourth straight Section II crown.
Warrensburg, which last season won its first sectional title in 14 years, hopes to defend its championship in a four-team Class D that includes Saturday’s opponent, Helderberg Valley. The Burghers host the game at 1 p.m. in Warrensburg. Whitehall and Chatham are also in Class D this season.
“We’re feeling ready and prepared,” Warrensburg head coach Mike Perrone said. “You never know what other teams are going to do first game, so you have to prepare for a lot of things. It’s our home opener, so the guys are really excited.”
Other games set for Friday night at 7 p.m. are Queensbury at Ballston Spa, South Glens Falls at Mohonasen, Hudson Falls at Scotia, Schuylerville at Johnstown, Hoosic Valley at Whitehall and Saratoga Springs at Niskayuna. Ticonderoga plays host to Peru in Champlain Valley Athletic Conference action at 7:30 p.m.
On Saturday, Lake George/Hadley-Luzerne travels to Granville for a 1 p.m. game.