By Justin Rodriguez
Section 9 Football Insider
Some fans may have questioned Burke Catholic’s ability to make another deep run into the playoffs after graduating 12 players from last year’s Class C state semifinal team.
However, the Eagles never doubted themselves.
“That was our goal from the start, from the first time I stepped on the field,” Burke Catholic running back David Ross said.
The Eagles were motivated to get back to the final four by last year’s heartbreaking 35-28 loss to Ogdensburg Free Academy in the Class C state semifinals.
“I’ve been just thinking about Ogdensburg, how we lost and how we wanted to get back,” Ross added. “It’s pretty much the only thing on my mind right now.”
Burke Catholic (9-1) gets another shot at reaching the state championship game when it takes on Holy Trinity of Troy in the Class C state semifinals at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Faller Field in Middletown. The winner plays Cleveland Hill or Skaneateles for the state title at 6 p.m. on Nov. 24th at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
No Section 9 team has ever reached the Class C state championship game.
Burke Catholic reached the semifinals with an impressive 62-12 win over Albertus Magnus. Ross rushed for 220 yards and six touchdowns, which tied a school record set by Matt Przybocki in the 2013 Class C championship game and Garnett Nicolas in the 2015 Section 9 Class B quarterfinals. The 62 points scored by Burke Catholic were the most by a Section 9 team since the full state playoffs began in 1993.
Burke Catholic has won nine games in a row since opening the season with a loss to Class B runner-up New Paltz.
“We have really gotten better week-to-week and it showed against Albertus Magnus,” Burke Catholic coach Aaron Hasbrouck said. That wasn’t a bad team that we beat. We came out and just executed the game plan from the beginning. We are playing our best football at the right time of the year and we hope to build off last week’s performance.”
Ross now has 1,455 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns this year, but the Eagles have also benefited from the emergence of its defense, which is often overshadowed by its high-octane offense, and junior running back/linebacker Solomon Hemingway. Hemingway has 10 touchdowns, but seven have come during three playoff games, including six on offense. Several other players have stepped up for Burke Catholic during its playoff run such as lineman Matt Guarneri and wide receiver/defensive backs Louie Usera, Matt Ehret and Rashad Hames.
“I just want to win,” Hemingway said. “I’m not worried about the spotlight around me. I just am thankful to the coaches for the opportunity.”
Holy Trinity (9-1) advanced to the semifinals with a 41-14 win over Ogdensburg Free Academy in the quarters. Sophomore quarterback Joe Tortello threw four touchdowns for the fourth game in a row. Holy Trinity’s one loss came to Mechanicville (38-34) in the second week of the season.
The Pride is led by 6-foot-8, 275-pound senior two-way lineman Liam Maloney, who has verbally committed to play at the University of Connecticut. He is a five-year starter.
“Holy Trinity is well coached and they have lots of size on the line,” Hasbrouck said. “But I think if we come out and play like we did against Albertus Magnus, we will be in good shape. I definitely think we will have an opportunity.”
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