The week one football matchup between Greenwich and Hoosic Valley provided some interesting contrasts prior to the 1:00 kickoff yesterday.
The Witches, returned from a year ago, explosive skill players in Cole Burgess and Reese Cristadi, while the Valley lost the vast majority of last season’s offensive production but returned the bulk of their offensive line. Hoosic Valley run’s a double wing attack offensively, in stark contrast to the Witches spread pistol formation.
Lastly, many people feel if Greenwich stays healthy they should make a run at another sectional title and beyond, while the preseason forecast for the Valley is less ambitious.
These things on paper matter little, but what played out in Schaghticoke Saturday afternoon matters much and while the contrasts were evident, a pair of special teams plays may have been the difference in the Witches 35-15 victory.
Under sunny skies and comfortable conditions, Greenwich wasted little time in getting on the board. The Witches Joe Smith took the opening kickoff inside his own 10 yard line and while some fans were still finding their seats, Smith brought it all the way back for six, and with the Chris Albrecht point after Greenwich held a 7-0 lead.
The Indians on their first series moved the ball deep into Greenwich territory using multiple ball carriers in their ground attack. Facing a third and goal from inside the five yard line the Indians lost yardage on a mishandled pitch and were unable to convert on fourth down turning the ball over to the Witches.
With 1:11 left in the first, Burgess showed his athleticism faking a handoff to Cristaldi, keeping and taking it off the left edge and up the sideline on a 44 yard tote for the second Greenwich touchdown and a 14-0 advantage.
On the ensuing drive Hoosic Valley, much like in their first possession, used a stable of running backs on a time consuming, methodical march this one ending with the first points of the afternoon for the Indians.
Ethan Caiazza, Dan Giordano, Will Scofield, Jylen Burden, Brandon Haughney, and Logan Smith all had their number called, and ran effectively on the six minute drive which ended with Scofield running it in from 20 yards out and a Giordano 2-point conversion trimmed the Greenwich lead to 14-8.
What came next was a perfectly executed on-side kick with kicker Matt Fusco getting the high hop and Cody Batchhelder coming away with the free ball putting the Valley in business at the Greenwich 41.
But momentum immediately changed hands when on first down Caiazza’s handoff to his running back was blown up by a Greenwich linebacker coming free causing a fumble that the Witches fell on at their own 47 .
After the quick possession change, Greenwich put together a nice drive of their own culminating with a Cristaldi 7-yard scoring run and the Witches led 21-8, a lead they took to the half.
It was more of the same for the Valley attack to start the third as the Indians put together another sustained drive ending with Haughney plowing in from the one-yard line and when the point after was true it was 21-15 at the 5:20 of the the third.
Three minutes later Burgess, after being shaken up and missing two plays, once again showed his big play capabilities on an explosive 40 yard touchdown run giving Greenwich some breathing room at 28-15.
On the ensuing Witches kickoff Albrecht lofted a pooch kick that hit grass and just before it rolled out of bounds Burgess came away with the football on a diving recovery.
Three plays later the Greenwich signal caller dialed his own number scoring on a quarterback draw from 23 yards out giving the Witches the 35-15 cushion and ultimately the week one “W”.
For Hoosic Valley Scofield finished with 92 rushing yards, Giordano picked up 50 yards, Haughney added 42 yards and Burden 41 for an Indian ground game that gained over 250 yards in the contest.
Greenwich was led by Burgess who ran for 206 yards and three scores, and Cristaldi who added 43 yards on the ground for the Witches.
Contrasting styles were on full display in Schaghticoke on Saturday to be sure, but by season’s end these two squads should have something in common, a successful fall of football with plenty of numbers in the win column.