Recorder Sports Staff
It doesn't take long for Mason Calhoun to sum up the feelings he experienced in the aftermath of last year's Section II Class A Super Bowl.
"It sucked," was the blunt assessment provided by the senior anchor on Amsterdam High School's offensive and defensive lines.
It's about the same for every Rugged Ram who was on the field at Shenendehowa High School in November 2011 when Amsterdam went through the 90-second gauntlet of emotions from taking the lead on Tyler Rouse's field goal late in the fourth quarter to watching a sectional title slip away when Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake snatched the crown when Ryan McDonnell's touchdown pass to Eric Dillon with 23 seconds left gave the Spartans a 26-23 victory.
"Horrible feeling," said Amsterdam senior captain Isaiah Martin. "I never want to feel that feeling again."
It was Martin who, during the preseason, made special mention of the fact that, although the Rugged Rams were taking a week-by-week approach to their season, there was one date that would be blinking in the backs of their minds the whole time.
October 6. Homecoming at Lynch Literacy Academy. The rematch with Burnt Hills.
And today at 4 p.m., it's finally arrived.
"We've been waiting since the Super Bowl to face this team again," Martin said. "Get some payback."
The Rams have been feeling the sting of the Super Bowl for 11 months, but for Burnt Hills head coach Matt Shell, what happened in that game has little impact on his team's preparation for this afternoon's game.
"I don't look at it that way. Last year's last year," Shell said. "We had seniors that departed, they had seniors that departed."
Shell said he doesn't want either of last year's Amsterdam-Burnt Hills clashes -- the Spartans' Super Bowl win and Amsterdam's 23-7 home victory in Week 2 of the regular season -- running through his players' heads as they make the trip out to Amsterdam.
"If my kids are looking at last year, either Week  or Week 10, if we're looking at last year, we're setting ourselves up for a long afternoon," Shell said. "We need to worry about Saturday and Saturday alone. I just don't agree with anyone that looks at revenge or emotions running high from last year. I don't think that even plays into the equation whatsoever."
Amsterdam head coach Doug Edick isn't so sure. Though the Spartans did claim the Section II title at the end of the season, Amsterdam's victory early in the regular season both ended what had been a 31-game win streak against Section II opponents for Burnt Hills and allowed Amsterdam to go on to win the Class A Northwest Division game.
With both teams unbeaten in Northwest Division play heading into today, the division title is essentially on the line -- Burnt Hills closes the season with a non-league game against Class AA Columbia, but Amsterdam would still need to win next week at South Glens Falls to clinch the division -- and Edick is certain that, whether the past weighs into it or not, the Spartans want to reclaim the top spot in the Northwest.
"They're gonna be wanting us, because we won the division title last year," Edick said. "They won the sectional title, but they're gonna want that league title back, as hungry as they are."
That much, Shell is willing to concede.
"We're both in the playoffs, and we both have the opportunity to get home-field games -- either one or two -- and Saturday will decide how that works out," the Spartans head coach said. "We have great respect for Amsterdam, their coaches and their players. Obviously, they're one of the premiere football teams around, and we know what we're up against and that we'll have to play a good football game."