BEEKMANTOWN — Beekmantown football coach Jamie Lozier hasn’t seen a quicker sideline-to-sideline team than the one he’s prepped for all week.
Lozier’s Eagles (6-4) will challenge No. 4 Schalmont in the NYSPHSAA Class B quarterfinals at AuSable Valley for 1 p.m. today.
The Section II champion Sabres have surrendered just 31 points all year, pitching five shutouts in all.
“Their defense is the best in the state,” Lozier said. “Their defense on film just looks like a base defense and that’s what’s scary. It’s because they’re all that good.
“Usually, you can get a defense looking sloppy when you get a couple good guys making plays. But when it looks like that, that’s scary because everybody’s doing their job.”
While Schalmont’s defense has suffocated its opponents, its offense is just as dangerous.
The Sabres have pummeled their opponents, scoring more than 50 points five times, including a 54-7 drubbing of No. 17 Broadalbin-Perth in the Section II Class B Super Bowl last Saturday. The perennial Section II power outgained Broadalbin-Perth on offense by a 449-70 margin.
Schalmont averages 371 yards of offense per game, including 253 rushing yards.
Devon Willis, who was a first-team all-state player in Class B a season ago, leads the team with 870 yards and 16 touchdowns. A 6-foot-1-inch 185-pound back, Willis has been riddled with injuries during his senior season.
Quarterback Nick Gallo has also been a major contributor on offense. Since a positional change in Week 5, Gallo is 32-for-43 with 611 passing yards and eight touchdowns.
During that five-game span, the junior has run for 266 yards and three touchdowns on 43 carries.
“We want to eliminate the big plays,” Beekmantown running back and outside linebacker Justin Stevens said. “We want to just clog everything we can. Just really make it all congested for them. Hopefully, we’ll force them to beat us with people they haven’t been beating teams with.”
The Sabres don’t necessarily have a physically imposing offensive line, but one that is agile and works well together.
Brennan Pelkey, a 6-foot-3-inch 235-pound defensive end, thinks his team’s defensive front matches up well.
The Eagles have three players on the defensive line over 235 pounds, highlighted by 6-foot-5-inch, 275-pound Chris Rowell.
“We should use our size to maybe overpower them a little bit,” Pelkey said. “Try to stop them from running and hopefully clog up some lanes.”
Schalmont operates out of the pistol set, a hybrid of the traditional shotgun and single-back offenses. The team, coached by Joe Whipple, uses a lot of motion to create confusion.
The Eagles have faced similar formations against Peru twice and Saranac Lake on one occasion.
“At the beginning of the year, we did the pistol ourselves,” Lozier said. “There were some things with our alignment and we weren’t crazy with it, so we got out of it. But because we did it earlier in the year, we know where it can hurt people. That’s where the basis of our reads is at right now — where their guys are lining up.”
Beekmantown is led on offense by senior signal-caller Jacob Remchuk, who has thrown for 1,237 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Remchuk was 9-of-11 for 203 yards and four touchdowns in the Eagles’ 51-14 drubbing of Franklin Academy in the Class B regional semifinals last Saturday.
His primary target is Cameron Garceau, who has hauled in 22 catches for 472 yards and seven touchdowns. Three Beekmantown players — Stevens, Kyle Dupigny and Devin Fessette — have accumulated 179 or more yards through the air.
On the ground, Fessette (112-757-10) and Stevens (79-647-12) have combined for 1,404 yards and 22 touchdowns.
“We’re hoping to find a weak spot (in their defense),” Lozier said. “It’s one thing to identify a weak spot, but when we have weapons spread all over the field, it gives us the ability to hit the weak spot wherever it is.
“That’s why you always see different guys getting touchdowns because as teams adjust to us, we find their weak spot and we exploit it that way.”
The winner of today’s game will either play No. 9 Pleasantville (Section I) or No. 2 Marlboro (Section IX) at Dietz Stadium in Kingston Nov. 23.
Email Ricky St. Clair: firstname.lastname@example.org