Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Amsterdam football coach Doug Edick, center, talks to his team prior to Saturday's scrimmage with Schenectady at Lynch Literacy Academy.
Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Amsterdam quarterback Tony Isabel warms up for Saturday's scrimmage with Schenectady at Lynch Literacy Academy.
Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Amsterdam backup quarterback Trey Holloway, left, gets instructions from offensive coordinator Tim Holloway during Saturday's scrimmage with Schenectady at Lynch Literacy Academy.
By ADAM SHINDER
After two weeks of lining up across from their own teammates, the members of the Amsterdam High School football team were just happy to see a team in a different jersey and helmet opposite them.
"It's always great to see another jersey, finally, get back to the groove," said Rugged Rams senior linebacker and fullback Brady McGillin.
Heading into their season opener this weekend against Cornwall at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, the Rams got their first test after preseason practice with Saturday's annual scrimmage against Schenectady at the Lynch Literacy Academy. Amsterdam finished up ahead 14-6 on the scoreboard, and third-year head coach Doug Edick said the exhibition was a valuable tool to assess where his team is heading into the season.
"They put forth a good effort," Edick said. "We got to see everybody play against someone besides who you're going up against in practice. Schenectady's always a good test. They always have speed, and they're physical."
After noted struggles on defense last season, Saturday morning on the Lynch turf was Amsterdam's first chance to test its retooled squad. For the most part, the Rams' first team responded, allowing one Schenectady touchdown in four series between the first and third quarters.
In particular, the Rams curtailed big plays in the running game and only allowed one play of more than 15 yards -- a 35-yard touchdown pass that got the Patriots their lone score of the game. Amsterdam's second-team defense shut the Patriots out in the second and fourth quarters and made numerous stops in the backfield.
"People flying to the ball, that's what we wanted to see," Edick said. "It wasn't too bad."
"Definitely from last year, we're getting more physical defensively," McGillin added.
McGillin had one of the Rams' two biggest defensive plays of the game, intercepting a pass near midfield in the first quarter and returning the ball inside the Schenectady 35 -- though a holding penalty negated Amsterdam's chance to score on the ensuing offensive drive.
"That's probably my third interception of my whole football career," McGillin said.
Amsterdam scored both of its touchdowns in the first half, one each from its starters and backups. The first-team offense scored on an impressive 12-play, 84-yard drive in the first quarter that was capped off by a 12-yard touchdown pass on a sweetly executed slant from Tony Isabel to James Valentin.
Isabel finished 3-for-7 for 54 yards through the air, with all of his attempts coming in the first quarter as the Amsterdam first team ran just three plays in the second half. With the Rams running an extremely simple version of their base offense and attempting to keep the team healthy heading into the regular season, Edick was pleased with much of what he saw -- though he said the team must do a better job in the trenches on both sides of the ball as the year progresses.
"Tony's seeing the field well. We need to be better blockers, get our guys in space a little more, and we'll do that as the season goes along," he said. "It's a scrimmage, and you're just running the basics and getting out of there healthy. That was our No. 1 objective, to get out of there healthy, and we did."
Amsterdam also scored on a Luigi Iorio 9-yard run in the second quarter that was set up after a David Crawford interception and return set the Rams' backups up inside the Schenectady 10-yard line.
In all, Edick got to see what he wanted to see out of his team against Schenectady, but the true gauge will be what happens this week in practice before Saturday's showcase in the Carrier Dome against returning state semifinalist and Section IX champion Cornwall.
"Not too bad, for a scrimmage," he said. "We'll see how we practice next week, and hopefully that'll correlate to some success Saturday night in the Dome."
Contact ADAM SHINDER at firstname.lastname@example.org