When the high school football season began and the schedules came out, this Week Seven matchup of Queensbury at Burnt Hills jumped out. These two haven’t played a bad game against one another in years, and they’re both so fun to watch.
The best place to watch this game is probably going to be on television — and I’m not just saying that because it’s our Friday Night Matchup. The reason I’m saying that is because you want to be able to see what’s going on behind the line for Queensbury.
They pack all 11 guys in tight and run a double-wing offense. There’s some misdirection with it, and it’s so tough to defend and tough to watch if you’re not sitting behind the line of scrimmage. Queensbury has been running this offense for a long time, and it’s worked well.
When new head coach Matt Crossman came in last season, we were waiting to see what their offense would look like and it didn’t change. Crossman says it’s more than just an offense, it’s Queensbury football.
“We have seen some success with it. It’s our mentality,” Crossman says. “We’re going to grind it out and get those four tough yards; that’s all we know at this point.”
The players enjoy it — well, the winning part, anyway.
“It’s not too complicated, but it’s definitely it’s something you have to be tough to buy into,” Liam O’Mara says. “We grind every day, and it’s a little more of a meat grinder than a normal offense, so it’s a little tough to buy into it, but when something works, everyone wants to buy into that.”
Both of these schools just have athletes. It’s interesting they have athletes who usually play more than one sport, and they’re usually good in most sports on both the boys’ and girls’ sides. They are two of schools others want to model themselves after.
Burnt Hills is arguably the most consistent football program in Section II since we started doing live games in 2003. They have the players and coaching to win a sectional championship every year. That starts with Matt Shell, who is in his 18th season as head coach. Ask anyone in the section, and they will tell you he is one of the best coaches in the area.
What stands out this season with this team is the team speed. Shell says it’s as fast of a team as he can remember having.
“I think that’s one good thing is that the team speed can make up for some mistakes,” Shell says. “Sometimes when you can initially make a mistake and make up for it with an athletic play … and we’ve been able to do that this year, so it helps.”
Something that I found really interesting, but something I like about Burnt Hills, is that they don’t really do 7-on-7 camps or team camps in the summer, and they haven’t been hurt by that. In a time when athletes are focusing on one sport, Shell doesn’t think that makes sense for his athletes.
“When football comes, it’s time to play football, but when it’s time for another sport, we encourage that,” the coach says. “I think that’s helped keep them fresh for football. You don’t see us at a lot of 7-on-7s; you don’t see us at a lot of camps; you see us here conditioning at the school. I don’t know that that’s the magic thing, but I think to be coached by other people is a really positive thing. They don’t need me or some of my staff in their ears all the time, because they hear it all season and I think it helps them keep fresh.”
Queensbury lost four-year starter Brendan Scott to a dislocated elbow in Week Four. Scott has continued to be part of the team, though, making sure he’s working with the trainers and getting some sort of a workout in. The players say he’s still a huge part of the team.
Burnt Hills is starting a freshman this season, Victor Little. He does not live up to his name. He’s about 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds.
Under Shell, Burnt Hills has won eight sectional championships and a state championship.