BY MICHAEL KELLY
CLIFTON PARK — Heading into Week 2, Shenendehowa was concerned about dealing with a pair of Shaker quarterbacks who head coach Greg Sheeler used interchangeably in Week 1. What the Plainsmen did not expect was having to worry about both junior Wahid Nabi and senior Brendan MacPhee at the same time.
That was the combination Shaker threw at Shenendehowa in a Sept. 11 35-21 decision, as Nabi took the vast majority of the team’s snaps and connected with MacPhee — playing wide receiver — for touchdown passes that bookended the team’s scoring in an early-season statement win for the Blue Bison.
“Coach is preaching to us to be 1-0 every week, every day,” said Nabi, who connected 9 of 11 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns. “We want to go 1-0 every game, and not take any steps back.”
MacPhee also threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Paul Kessler,in addition to his own receiving scores.
“He’s a pretty good receiver, too,” Shaker head coach Greg Sheeler said of MacPhee. “For a coach, it’s a fun thing to have someone who can do so much.”
For Shenendehowa, the fun never materialized. The Plainsmen (0-0 Empire Division, 0-2 overall) fell behind 14-0 after the first two drives of the Blue Bison (0-0, Liberty Division, 2-0), and never pulled closer than seven points the rest of the way.
The two teams played a frenetic first quarter, after which Shaker led 21-14. The highlight-fest opening stanza culminated with a 92-yard touchdown return from Shenendehowa’s Griffin Wallner on the kickoff following MacPhee’s touchdown pass.
Following the scoring outburst, the game’s pace slowed. After Wallner’s score with 1:05 left in the first quarter, the game remained at 21-14 until Shaker’s Ronel Forde punched one in for the Blue Bison with 5:31 to go in the third.
“We knew it was going to be a physical game,” Sheeler said. “Shenendehowa football has not changed; they might throw it a little bit more, but it’s still a very physical game any time you play these guys.”
But, as in its Week 1 loss to Canisius at the Carrier Dome, Shenendehowa made too many mistakes to pull off a victory against another top-notch squad. The Plainsmen were penalized for more than 100 yards in the contest, and struggled again to contain big plays in the passing game.
“We can’t expect to win when we have 10-plus penalties like we did,” senior lineman/tight end Michael Gillooley said. “The positive is those things are fixable.”
Before its Week 2 defeat, Shenendehowa had not lost consecutive games inside one season since 2010. Game results, though, are not what Shenendehowa head coach Brian Clawson said his team is frustrated about after two weeks of action.
“They understand we’ve played good competition, but the challenging part about it is that they also know we’re not playing our best,” Clawson said.
For Shenendehowa, senior running back Carl Fiore scored two touchdowns and had 232 yards between rushes and receptions.
While an 0-2 start is not what the Plainsmen wanted to get its area title defense going, there is no rest for the team. Weeks 3 and 4 bring matchups with powerful CBA and Saratoga Springs, respectively, and Shenendehowa knows these games coming up mean more than the two it has already lost.
“We know we play great competition the first four weeks of the season, but the past two games were non-leaguers,” Gillooley said. “We know if we win out from here … we’ll still be the first seed in the Empire Division, and hopefully get to see [Shaker] again in the future.”
Shaker 35, Shenendehowa 21
Shenendehowa 14 0 0 7 — 21
Shaker 21 0 7 7 — 35
Shaker — Wahid Nabi 64-yard TD pass to Brendan MacPhee (Maki Medici PAT)
Shaker — Ronel Forde 40-yard TD rush (Medici PAT)
Shen — Eric Morris 68-yard TD pass to Carl Fiore (Nathan Fankhanel PAT)
Shaker — MacPhee 59-yard TD pass to Paul Kessler (Medici PAT)
Shen — Griffin Wallner 92-yard TD kickoff return (Fankhanel PAT)
Shaker — Forde 5-yard TD run (Medici PAT)
Shaker — Nabi 19-yard TD pass to MacPhee (Medici PAT)
Shen — Morris 28-yard TD pass to Fiore (Fankhanel PAT)
Shenendehowa: Morris 4 of 17, 113 yards, 2 TDs.
Shaker: Nabi 9 of 11, 183 yards, 2 TDs; MacPhee 1 of 2, 59 yards, 1 TD.
Shenendehowa: Fiore 3-97, 2 TDs; Dakota Rainville 1-16.
Shaker: Kessler, 3-93, 1 TD; MacPhee 2-83, 2 TDs; Ryan Duda 1-30; Edwin Shields 1-21; Andrew Bolton 2-13; Mike Stiso 1-2.
Shenendehowa: Fiore 15-135; Wallner 12-51; RIchard Drum 4-9; Anthony DiNallo 1-3; Morris 1-(-)18.
Shaker: Forde 10-83, 2 TDs; Bolton 11-27; Mitch Flanger 4-15; Duda 8-19; Kwasi Addo 3-9; MacPhee 3-7; Nabi 4-0.