POTSDAM It remains to be seen if lightning can strike again when the Potsdam Central football team hosts Malone on Friday night in the Northern Athletic Conference championship game.
When the two teams were set to meet on Sept. 14 in Potsdam, the game was postponed by prolonged lightning strikes. The Huskies returned to Malone late Friday night and then boarded a bus early Saturday morning for a 10 a.m. kickoff back in Potsdam.
Then the offenses of both teams struck early and often, with the Sandstoners prevailing 35-27. Potsdam (8-0) remains unbeaten while Malone is looking to avenge its only loss of the season. The Huskies are led by 1,000-yard passer and 1,000-yard rusher Mitch Gallagher.
Weve been ready to play Potsdam again since right after they beat us, Gallagher said. We were ready to go that Friday night and ended up playing Saturday. But we dont use that as an excuse. We had two early turnovers inside our 10-yard line which really hurt us. Were fired up. We cant wait for another shot. Its a huge game.
Potsdams power-running offense is led by quarterback Will Coleman who doesnt throw as much as Gallagher. But when Coleman does, his completion percentage is the best in the league.
We know Gallagher will do his thing. Well try to limit it. Hes the best quarterback well see by far, Coleman said. They have other guys who also have great speed. I think it will be a close, tough battle and a hard-nosed fight. Its fun to be here.
Gallagher, who also excels in the classroom, hopes to continue his football career on the college level next season and is considering, among others, Division III St. Lawrence and Ithaca, along with Division I Dartmouth and Lehigh.
But not before the Huskies (7-1) and head coach Greg Marshall aim for the NAC playoff title and a good showing in the upcoming Class B state tournament.
We may not have shown our best yet, Marshall said. After the last time we played Potsdam, the kids said we need another shot and here we are. But we know we have to play inspired football.
This is one of Kirkas favorite teams to coach in his tenure at Potsdam, which began as an assistant in 1993.
This is the first Potsdam team in 41 years that went undefeated in the regular season. Mike Loconti was head coach of that team in 1971 and now hes our assistant, which I think is pretty interesting, Kirka said. This team doesnt have one standout. Its a true team. The kids like each other. Theyve really come together.
Potsdam, which will meet Massena next week for the right to compete in the Class A state tournament, features several strong backs running behind a veteran offensive line. Oden Robertson and Adam Lewis both average over 8 yards per carry. Top receiver Jacob Woods was injured in last weeks victory against OFA and is out for the season.
Its hard to beat a good team like Malone twice, Kirka said. Mitch is a great football player. We have to play disciplined defense, stay home on defense. This one should be a good, clean game to watch.
Gallagher is a favorite to receive the 2012 Don Petty Award as the Outstanding Player in Section 10, an award to be presented after Friday nights game.
END OF SEASON RACES TIGHT
The NAC Central Division boys soccer race is among the closest in several years with Potsdam, Malone, Canton and OFA all separated by just two points with just two regular season games left for each team.
Meanwhile, in girls soccer, its a two-team race in the Central Division with unbeaten Massena holding a two-point lead over Canton with two games left. Massena has defeated Canton 1-0 and the two teams also played to a scoreless tie so far this year.
In girls swimming, its also Canton and Massena atop the standings with the unbeaten Bears holding a one-game lead over the defending champion Raiders. The two teams meet at the Canton pool on Friday in the regular season finale with Massena looking to forge a tie for the league title.