Rugged Rams not looking past SGF

Saturday, October 01, 2016 - Updated: 2:18 AM

Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Amsterdam's Robbie Spagnola, center, works through a double-team block from Jio Orengo, left, and Elijah Newborn, right, during practice Thursday at Amsterdam High School.

By ADAM SHINDER

@RecorderShinder

TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- Eleven months ago, Dale Stanavich's role in the Amsterdam High School football team's offense changed, and he's never gone back.

Used as a wide receiver as a sophomore and through most of his junior season, Stanavich moved into the backfield during a 2015 Section II Class A first-round playoff game against the South Glens Falls Bulldogs when Adel Rosario was hampered by an ankle injury. Stanavich ran for 112 yards and a touchdown on just eight carries that night -- while also providing vital lead blocking for his older brother Bryan's 270-yard performance -- and the Rugged Rams had a new dimension in their offense that paved the way to a Section II championship.

"We did it that late?" Amsterdam coach Doug Edick said with a laugh as he reminisced about the younger Stanavich's offensive switch.

Today at 3 p.m., the Rams host their Homecoming game against that same South Glens Falls team, and Stanavich -- now the Rams' feature back as a senior -- is coming off a career-best game last week against Lansingburgh as he ran for 262 yards and three scores in Amsterdam's 35-0 victory.

That win got Amsterdam's season back on track following a 40-0 loss to Queensbury two weeks ago, and today's game against South Glens Falls starts a three-game stretch of Northwest Division games that will determine if Amsterdam (2-2, 0-1 Northwest) can earn a home playoff game.

"We need these wins. We want to get that home game in the playoffs," Stanavich said.

The Rams found their groove in the wind and rain at Lansingburgh, with Stanavich's big night on the ground and a ferocious defensive effort making things easy for sophomore quarterback Trey Ausfeld in his first start since replacing junior Trey Holloway, who suffered a broken left fibula early in Amsterdam's loss to Queensbury.

It was the performance the Rams needed to rebuild their confidence, and they're hoping that momentum will flow into these next three games against South Glens Falls, Gloversville and Scotia-Glenville.

"We've got to keep gaining if we want to compete against Queensbury and get over the hump against Burnt Hills, and Averill Park looks like a very good team on the other side," Edick said. "We've got to keep improving. This is a big league game for our team."

In South Glens Falls (1-3, 1-1 Northwest), the Rams face a program on the upswing. The Bulldogs have seen a major increase in numbers under head coach Mike Hammond and snapped a 10-year playoff drought in 2015, though the team still finished 4-5 for its 23rd consecutive losing season.

This year, South Glens Falls started with a pair of close losses to Mohonasen and Averill Park before bouncing back in Week 3 with a 38-25 win over Scotia-Glenville, but followed that up last week with a 62-22 loss to Queensbury that saw the Bulldogs surrender 484 rushing yards to the Spartans' vaunted double wing.

However, Edick is certainly wary of the problems the Bulldogs' Wing-T offense present. South Glens Falls lost star quarterback Zack Ahrens and explosive wide receiver John Styczynski to graduation, but running backs Dylan Schrammel, Kevin Mickel and Will Jennings have combined for 1,041 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns to make life a bit easier for new quarterback Brendan Yando.

"They've got a good wing that can run the counter, so we've got to be able to shut him down. And their quarterback (Yando) is athletic," Edick said.

Amsterdam will counter with Stanavich, Rosario and a passing game that should be even more comfortable this week with Ausfeld in his second week as a starter.

The Rams have experienced some turmoil early, but after starting 0-3 in 2015 before rebounding to win the sectional championship, that's nothing new.

"We're gonna work harder and hope to win out the season, because we definitely want to get back to the section championship like we did last year," junior center Nico Orengo said. "We would love a home playoff game. We want to play for these people of Amsterdam -- they love us and we love them."

Contact ADAM SHINDER at adam.shinder@recordernews.com

Adam Shinder/Recorder staff

Amsterdam quarterback Trey Ausfeld, left, takes a snap from center Nico Orengo during practice Thursday at Amsterdam High School.

Adam Shinder/Recorder staff

Amsterdam's Misha Murdoch, left, kicks out of Tucker Clark's hold during practice Thursday at Amsterdam High School.

Adam Shinder/Recorder staff

Amsterdam lineman Jesse Kellogg does work on the blocking sled during practice Thursday at Amsterdam High School.