By ADAM SHINDER
Needing crutches to stand on the sidelines and just a few weeks removed from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament, Amsterdam High School senior Kolbie Glionna couldn't be on the field Saturday for Homecoming and his team's final game at Lynch Literacy Academy.
Then senior captain Gabe Mendez came up with a way to make sure his friend and teammate had a presence on the field - thanks to a quick costume change.
Rather than wearing his regular No. 5 jersey Saturday against South Glens Falls, Mendez asked Glionna if he could don the No. 4 that Glionna's worn for the Rugged Rams each of the last two seasons, up until his season-ending injury in Amsterdam's Week 3 game against Troy.
"He's my best friend here, and he couldn't play in his last home game," Mendez said. "I sort of wanted to finish it off for him, it was the last home game, so in a way, he sort of played the game."
The two have become fast friends since Mendez transferred from Broadalbin-Perth to AHS for his senior year, and Glionna was glad to agree to the swap.
"Ever since he came here, he became one of my best friends," Glionna said. "He asked me, 'Can I wear your jersey?' and I said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'Since you can't finish your season, I want to finish it out for you.'"
The switch gave Mendez - one of the Rugged Rams' most energetic personalities, regardless of the occasion - a little extra reason to be fired up for Saturday's game against winless South Glens Falls.
"I tried to play for him. I played for myself and for him, and it motivated me to play better," Mendez said.
And Glionna was thrilled to see his number - one that's also been sported by Amsterdam standouts Ben Miseikis and Chris Carbone in recent years - back on the field at Lynch for Homecoming, even if it meant he had to wear his white road jersey while rooting on the team as Mendez donned the purple No. 4 on the field.
"I had to wear the white, but it was a nice thing for him to do," Glionna said. "Asking to wear my jersey so he could finish it out for me, I really appreciate him doing it. It was great to see number four back out on the field."
TWO YARDS FROM GLORY
Senior Devin Rosario thought he'd given up any aspirations of being a ballcarrier when he switched his offensive position from fullback to center during the preseason. But, for a few moments Saturday, he experienced a little deja vu.
After Stephen Hubinsky's 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown pulled South Glens Falls within 21-7 late in the first quarter, the Bulldogs tried to keep their momentum going with a surprise onsides kick. But, Travis Ramsey's attempt bounced right to Rosario - who was standing at the 50-yard line on the outside of Amsterdam's first line of blockers - with nothing but green in front of him.
Unfortunately for Rosario, a team captain and hard-nosed middle linebacker, breakaway speed isn't a quality he possesses in abundance - and two yards from the end zone, he was pulled down from behind.
"I guess I've got to sprint more, or do a little more conditioning," Rosario said.
On the ensuing snap, the Rams tried to usher Rosario into the end zone. He made a one-play cameo at fullback and took a handoff from quarterback Julian Gallup, but was stuffed at the line of scrimmage for no gain.
"I wanted it for him," Amsterdam head coach Doug Edick said.
"I wanted that touchdown so bad," Rosario said. "It brought me back to last year, when I was running at fullback."
On the next play, Rosario headed to the sideline and Gallup ran the ball in for the score.
Saturday was a chance for the Rams to give several of their lesser-used players a chance for the Homecoming spotlight. With the game in hand by early in the second quarter, Amsterdam head coach Doug Edick was able to start liberally using his bench and make sure to get as many people the ball as was possible.
By the end of the day, 11 different Rams - including two linemen, Rosario and C.J. Mercado - had at least one rushing attempt or reception. Alonzo Martin, a rotational player on offense throughout the season, caught a 47-yard touchdown pass and ran for a score. Brady McGillin, a starter at linebacker all season who's been used sparingly on offense, ran for a 52-yard touchdown on his only carry. Senior Jon Magaletti, described by Edick as an invaluable member of Amsterdam's scout team during the week, had his first career touchdown on a 1-yard run in the second quarter.
Senior captain Hector Diaz was thrilled with how many players got in on the festivities.
"It was one of those games where you wanted to put in everybody that deserved to get in," Diaz said. "We wanted to get them touchdowns, get their stats for the year. There's a lot of kids that have worked hard all year, and they haven't really seen the field, because we've been going against some really good teams. They all deserved it."
ODDS ANDS ENDS
Amsterdam junior placekicker Marcus Pritchard was 8-for-8 on extra-point attempts Saturday. Pritchard is 34-for-36 on the season on PAT attempts - best of any kicker in Section II - and established a new school record of 73 career extra points made in Saturday's game, breaking Kevin Wilary's record of 68. ... The Rams didn't punt until their final drive of the game in the fourth quarter. Junior Devin Dzikowicz got the call to attempt his first punt of the season and uncorked a 58-yarder that was downed without a return.