By ADAM SHINDER
As the Amsterdam Rugged Rams get ready to open play in the Section II Class A Northwest Division with a trip to Gloversville Friday night, they're doing so shorthanded.
The Rams learned this week that linebacker and fullback Kolbie Glionna will be out for the remainder of the season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered on the second-to-last play of Friday night's 26-14 loss to Troy at Lynch Literacy Academy. Glionna's injury, plus the uncertain status of tailback and safety Gabe Mendez -- who Rams head coach Doug Edick listed as "week-to-week" with a sprained knee and bone bruise incurred against Troy -- has left the team wounded heading into Friday's clash at Husky Field.
"You've got to move on, and you've got to go with the guys that'll be out on the field," Edick said. "I feel bad for Kolbie, he's out for the season. He gave it his all and it's a shame."
Through three weeks, Glionna and Mendez were the Rams' second- and third-leading rushers, respectively, leaving a gap in the backfield that will have to be filled by sophomore tailback Bryan Stanavich in his first varsity start and senior fullback Hector Diaz in his second game back from a shoulder injury.
"They're all good players," senior lineman Gabe Orengo said. "We've just need to make sure that everyone who gets in there is doing their job."
Though the Rams (2-1) may be a bit shorthanded, Gloversville (2-1, 0-1 Northwest Division) coach Jared Bongo is plenty wary of the rest of Amsterdam's array of offensive skill players, headed by senior quarterback Julian Gallup.
"Amsterdam always has good skill guys," Bongo said. "Their quarterback's a big, strong kid, he throws the ball well and scrambles around the pocket. He's very elusive. It's gonna be a tough matchup for us."
But, as concerned as Bongo and the Huskies are with containing Gallup, the Rams are just as focused on making sure Gloversville's talented senior dual-threat quarterback, Asa Barnhill, doesn't exploit an Amsterdam defense that's been prone to big plays so far this season.
Barnhill is the Huskies' leading rusher through three games with 276 yards and eight touchdowns -- in addition to 164 yards and a touchdown through the air -- and while he's got a strong supporting cast including Quantel McGee and David Vandenabeele, the Rams made it clear that shutting down Barnhill is priority No. 1.
"Asa's a hell of a player, and we've got to keep him in the pocket at all times," Orengo said. "As soon as he gets out of the pocket, he's a threat."
"We've got to keep an eye on that quarterback," added middle linebacker Devin Rosario. "Lately in our games, we haven't been hitting the quarterback enough, and that's what our focus is on -- hitting the quarterback and making better tackles."
Barnhill is the focal point of the Huskies' spread offense, a different animal than anything the Rams have seen this year after dealing with three teams in Averill Park, Mohonasen and Troy that pack things in tight on offense.
Personnel-wise, Edick said, that actually makes this week's defensive prep work a little easier, as the Rams are tailored to a similar style.
"It is different. We kind of like it, because that's what we see from our offense more," he said. "They like to give it to their athletes and they want them to make plays ... just like we do. It's kind of mirroring each other, really."
Led by Barnhill, the Huskies opened the season by shutting out Mohonasen and Averill Park in back-to-back games. In their Week 3 Northwest Division opener against Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, the Huskies played the defending state champions to a 14-14 halftime tie before Bongo said his team "ran out of gas" after intermission and eventually suffered a 46-14 loss.
But, Amsterdam senior lineman Tyler Cranker said, the Rams are heading into Friday night with plenty of respect for what the Huskies are capable of.
"They're tough, they're athletic guys and they're better than they have been the past few years," Cranker said. "We've got to play to our capabilities."
That's what the Rams feel they failed to do Friday night against Troy. Now, with every remaining regular season game having a major impact on the Section II Class A playoff picture, Orengo said his team has no time to waste to get back on the winning track -- starting with its rival across the Montgomery-Fulton county line.
"We were disappointed from Friday night against Troy," he said. "This is a divisional game, and we've got to prove to the division and Class A that we're ready to play, and we just played bad Friday night against Troy."