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Amsterdam defense responded in scrimmage test

Tuesday, September 02, 2014 - Updated: 10:21 AM

Like the bad guy in a horror movie you can never seem to get rid of, the Rugged Recap returns for yet another season of bullet-pointed observation and analysis of the Amsterdam High School football team.

As the season progresses, these recaps will be found in The Recorder the day after my game story. So, for Friday night games, the Rugged Recap will be in the Monday edition; for Saturday games, it will appear in the Tuesday paper.

Today, as an appetizer for when things get started for real Saturday against Cornwall in the Carrier Dome, I'll give you some insights of what I saw from this past Saturday's scrimmage at Lynch Literacy Academy between the Rugged Rams and the Schenectady Patriots.

Once again, dear travelers, to the land of bullet points we go:

* Start on defense, because that's where the Rugged Rams' biggest issues were carrying over from last season. For the most part, Amsterdam impressed me Saturday morning. Schenectady had a couple 10-to-12-yard runs, but the tackling was surer and the Rams didn't allow any of the big plays in the running game that plagued them all last season. The Rams' first-team defense played five series, allowed one touchdown, caused a turnover and forced three punts.

* Most impressive player among the Amsterdam defensive starters was, hands down, linebacker Brady McGillin. He had a few big hits to make solo tackles and turned in the team's defensive play of the game when he made a nice read after dropping into zone coverage to intercept Schenectady quarterback Brandon Gwinner near midfield and weave his way to a 20-yard return.

* Bryan Stanavich at safety and Luigi Iorio at cornerback also flashed on a couple plays. Stanavich made a nice jump on the ball to break up a pass that caused a Schenectady drive to stall in the third quarter, while Iorio made a nice solo tackle on the sideline to prevent a Patriots receiver from picking up a first down. Overall, there weren't any badly whiffed tackles in the open field, and the Rams seemed to take good angles of pursuit.

* Hard to judge the starting defensive line from field level, but they got pressure on a few pass plays and tackles Brian Cranker and Chad Pine combined on a stop that forced a Schenectady punt in the first quarter.

* The second-team defense got a big play from cornerback David Crawford in the second quarter when he intercepted an overthrown pass and returned it inside the Schenectady 10-yard line to set up Amsterdam's second touchdown. Fellow corner Marvin Robles made a few nice plays in coverage as well, and I'd expect both to see the field Saturday at the Dome against a Cornwall team that spreads the field and throws the ball more than any Section II opponent Amsterdam will see the rest of this season.

* The second team also made a handful of stops in the backfield and got pressure on the quarterback. Brandon Gearhart and Gabe DeJesus both made tackles for losses, while back-to-back negative plays forced by Jiovani Orengo and Jarrett Nowak caused a turnover on downs on Schenectady's final possession.

* Offensively, there really wasn't much to go on. The Rams ran an extremely basic offense without employing much of their fast-paced no-huddle and the starters ran just three plays in the second half. They did put together a 12-play, 84-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter.

* Quarterback Tony Isabel was under pressure a few times, but looked confident at the helm of the first-team offense. He finished 3-for-7 for 54 yards and threw a sweet slant to James Valentin for a 12-yard touchdown. He also hit Keenan Holloway for a 23-yard gain to convert a fourth down that kept the touchdown drive going and nearly connected with Valentin for two more touchdowns on go routes. One was a step too long, the other looked like Valentin looked over the wrong shoulder for the ball and couldn't adjust quickly enough to bring it in.

* The running game was basic, with Stanavich picking up 20 yards on eight carries. Isabel had a nice 13-yard pickup and McGillin gained four yards on his only carry. Luigi Iorio had a 9-yard touchdown run and nearly broke a couple others for big gains, and while backup quarterback Trey Holloway didn't have a great game throwing the ball, he had a couple impressive runs.

* Not much to go by on special teams, since there was no contact on returns, but Marcus Pritchard handled kickoff duties for the first time and put two of his three into the end zone. Pritchard also easily hit both of his extra points and would have attempted a 45-yard field goal had a penalty not pushed the Rams back. Brian Swank handled punting duties.



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