The Granville Golden Horde ended its regular season making the trip few teams in the entire state want to make, visiting Hoosick Falls and falling to the Panthers 53-6 to bring and end to the Class C North season for 2011.
The Panthers have been ranked in the state for the entire season, and positioned behind just one team as the number two consensus pick in the state going into the final week of the regular season; for those who have not seen them first hand a question remains: Are they that good?
“They’re that good,” head coach Mario Torres said. “They’re as good as advertised. They’re a very good team and probably have an excellent shot at a state title.”
Granville gave up just one touchdown after the half to play the defending Class C North Champions 7-6 in the final two quarters, but the game was, unfortunately for Granville, four quarters long and won in the first half when the Panthers scored 20 and 26 points, respectively before heading into the locker room.
“We just ran into a buzz saw,” Torres said.
Torres said the team did well, but continued to make costly drive-killing errors. “I thought we moved the ball well at times, but then we made mistakes, it was third and one with an offside penalty or a holding penalty,” Torres said.
Adding to the challenge of playing a senior-laden, experienced team was the fact they capitalized on any miscues and could score, not on long drives, but in single plays. “Defensively we played well at times, but we gave up the big play when (Tanner) Williams has 111 yards on four carries…” Torres said that statistic tells a story and it does not have a happy ending for the Horde.
Similarly, when Granville won the battle of turnovers, collecting three fumbles from Hoosick Falls – they were not able to convert the possessions into scores. When the Panthers took the ball away, they picked quarterback Luke Hahn twice, both went straight into the end zone for scores.
Granville’s lone bright spot of offense happened in the fourth quarter when Kody Bardin broke away from the pack for a 75-yard scoring run on a punt return.
“We were able to move the ball, but we just couldn’t stop them when we had to,” the coach said. “When we had to make a play we didn’t; they’re not number two in the state for no reason.”
With the coverage of the Panther’s season showing the team has been held to less than 50 points just once, Sept. 9 in a 41-6 win over Stillwater, and has allowed more than 15 points just once, Sept. 23 against Tamarac in a 53-16 win, Torres said he tried to get his team to hear the message they’re only high school students on the other side of the line of scrimmage – just like the Horde.
“We told our kids, they’ve got to believe in themselves. We told them all week, they’re high school kids just like we are…they’re not superheroes, they’re not robots. We tried to get out kids to believe they belonged on the field,” Torres said.
“We’re not worried about what other people are doing, we’re only worried about what we’re doing we had a pretty good game plan, but we ran into a buzz saw. They were bigger, faster and stronger than us and it showed on the field,” Torres said.
The coach was pleased the kids were still playing hard in the second half. Opposing coach, Ron Jones, complimented the entire team on playing hard for the whole game, Torres said.
The team had the option, but chose against running time in the second half. “If we get beat by 100, we get beat by 100 and if we can score 100 then we score 100, that’s just how it is,” Torres said. “They’re young men, they work had to get to play 48 minutes of football, why run the clock?”
“We had a couple of successful years the last few years, in order to build on that success we’re going to have to take our lumps, it’s not going to be an easy road,” Torres said. Like the program they aspire to copy Torres said Coach Jones had tough seasons early on as well, but it is all part of building up a football program, Torres said. Now that team that has taken its lumps and has all of the parts in place from community and school support to good participation numbers to make a football program that sees success from year to year and season to season.