BY MICHAEL KELLY
CLIFTON PARK — Its back against the wall after a tough start to the 2015 season, Shenendehowa understood the importance of its Empire Division opener went beyond one game in the standings.
“It was time to regroup and start fresh,” Shenendehowa head coach Brian Clawson said.
“This win,” Shenendehowa senior lineman Tyler Comito said, “was one we needed.”
The Plainsmen got it, unleashing their offense Sept. 18 against a CBA squad that could not keep up in what became a 48-28 track meet of a Section II Class AA football game that was a rematch of last year’s Super Bowl.
“This is a matchup that has traditionally been a defensive struggle with not a lot of offense over the past five years, I’d say,” said CBA head coach Joe Burke, whose club lost 25-20 in the 2014 title game to Shenendehowa. “But both teams put points up on the board.”
The Plainsmen (1-0, 1-2) needed every bit of firepower they could muster to guarantee themselves a victory against CBA (0-1, 1-2) after they dropped both games during the non-league portion of their regular season to Canisius and Shaker. Shenendehowa quickly found its scoring punch against CBA, as the Plainsmen’s first drive only lasted four plays and was capped by senior running back Carl Fiore scoring from 29 yards out to give his team its first lead of the season early in the first quarter of Week 3.
Fiore ended up with three rushing touchdowns, all scored in the first half, and turned 23 carries into 147 yards.
“It felt like I was running downhill,” Fiore said.
With the Plainsmen’s offensive line opening up holes for Fiore, the smallish senior has rushed for 422 yards through the first three weeks of the season.
“He’s 5-foot-8, 170 pounds of dynamite,” Clawson said of Fiore. “He’s a guy that when he touches the ball, he makes things happen.”
So, too, did the Plainsmen’s defense. Comito forced a fumble late in the first quarter that senior linebacker Anthony DiNallo recovered; on the ensuing possession, DiNallo took a handoff 8 yards for a touchdown to give Shenendehowa control with a 21-7 lead.
Comito’s hit knocked CBA senior quarterback Joe Kolbe out of the game. Kolbe played one possession in the second half before being taken out again; Burke said the decision to remove Kolbe the second time was “precautionary.”
In Kolbe’s place, CBA turned to Max Jones. The junior ended up rushing for 104 yards and two scores on 10 attempts, while completing 4 of 7 passes for 52 yards and another touchdown.
Shenendehowa, though, had too many weapons for the Brothers to handle. Besides Fiore’s big night, Plainsmen senior quarterback Eric Morris completed 8 of 11 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns, while sophomore Griffin Wallner got the second half started with a kickoff return of 90 yards for a touchdown.
Last week, Wallner returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown in Shenendehowa’s loss to Shaker.
Next week, CBA travels to Ballston Spa, while the Plainsmen head to Saratoga Springs to take on their archrival. Heading into their pivotal Week 4 matchup, Comito and Fiore said the Plainsmen feel much more confident after avoiding an 0-3 start.
“This one really gives us confidence,” Comito said.
“It’s a different feeling,” Fiore said. “It’s amazing.”
While 1-2 overall, Shenendehowa’s head coach said his team is focused on its 1-0 start to the divisional slate that will determine how teams are seeded for the playoffs.
“We started our new season,” Clawson said.
Shenendehowa 48, CBA 28
Shen 21 6 14 7 — 48
CBA 7 7 7 7 — 28
Shen — Carl Fiore 29-yard touchdown run (Nathan Fankhanel kick)
CBA — Nick DeNicola 16-yard touchdown run (Dom Savona kick)
Shen — Fiore 2-yard touchdown run (Fankhanel kick)
Shen — Anthony DiNallo 8-yard touchdown run (Fankhanel kick)
CBA — Max Jones 35-yard touchdown run (Savona kick)
Shen — Fiore 7-yard touchdown run (kick failed)
Shen — Griffin Wallner 90-yard touchdown kickoff return (Fankhanel kick)
CBA — Kevin Mullady 26-yard touchdown pass from Jones (Savona kick)
Shen — Richard Drum 35-yard touchdown pass from Eric Morris (Fankhanel kick)
CBA — Jones 1 run (Savona kick)
Shen — Michael Gillooley 16-yard touchdown pass from Morris (Fankhanel kick)
Shen: Morris 8 of 11, 163 yards, 2 TDs.
CBA: Jones 4 of 7, 52 yards, 1 TD; Joe Kolbe 1 of 5, 5 yards.
Shen: Drum 2-61, 1 TD; Fiore 3-43; Dakota Rainville 1-29; Gillooley 1-16, 1 TD; Wallner 1-14
CBA: Mullady 3-43, 1 TD; Joe Burke 1-9; DeNicola 1-5.
Shen: Fiore 23-147, 3 TDs; Wallner 9-59; DiNallo 8-43, 1 TD;cDrum 2-5; John Cady 1-5; Nicholas Flood 1-5; Chris Penman 1-5. Mike Spulnick 1-0; Morris 1-(-)3.
CBA: DeNicola 13-118, 1 TD; Taurian Taylor 9-75 Jones 10-104, 2 TDs; Brian Tucker 4-20; Quintan Hall 1-0, 1 fumble; Kolbe 1-0, 1 fumble.