The Telegram
  • SCHOLASTIC FOOTBALL: Mounties upset Herkimer to earn playoff spot


    The Little Falls Mounties scored a touchdown on their first offensive play and sacked Herkimer quarterback Austin Mills on the last Saturday. In between, the Mounties played well enough to upset the Magicians 20-12 and earn a spot in Section III’s Class playoffs.

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    The Little Falls Mounties scored a touchdown on their first offensive play and sacked Herkimer quarterback Austin Mills on the last Saturday. In between, the Mounties played well enough to upset the Magicians 20-12 and earn a spot in Section III’s Class playoffs.
    Needing a win against the defending sectional champions after Holland Patent had knocked Ilion out of playoff contention Friday, Little Falls responded with a strong performance on Homecoming Day. Senior quarterback Mike Battisti ran for one touchdown and threw for another while classmate Tyler McLean scored twice. Junior lineman Dylan Hapeman contributed several key plays on defense against the state’s sixth-ranked Class C team.
    “It’s great to have a scenario where your last game of the year, your Homecoming, if you win you’re in the playoffs,” said coach Bryan Shepardson who will take the Mounties to the playoffs for the first time in his fifth season. “We’ve had some tough games, we’ve had some tough losses, but the kids kept battling and did a great job getting a win today.”
    The Holland Patent win put Little Falls (2-4, 2-3 C East) in position to claim a playoff spot with a win. A loss would have put Holland Patent in the playoffs through a three-way tie-breaker with Ilion.
    “The situation today was basically a playoff game for us,” Shepardson said. “If you win, you keep going. We were able to take that mentality and play hard the whole game.”
    Aiding Little Falls at game time was a disciplinary situation that left Herkimer to play with just one player more than the minimum required to field a team in New York.
    “We got a good fight out of the kids we had out there,” Herkimer coach Alan Steele said. “We dressed 17 kids and a lot of them never came off the field.”
    Some of those 17 kids found themselves in unfamiliar roles. Running back Ryan Fahy switched jerseys and filled in at center. Mike Dobek, a starting defensive back who ordinarily rotates in at quarterback, lined up as a blocking back with Austin Mills on offense.
    Battisti raced 65 yards on an option following the opening kickoff and gave Little Falls a quick 6-0 lead on its home field. Herkimer answered with a touchdown of its own on an 11-yard run by Zach Steele but the Mounties scored twice in the second quarter and led 20-12 at halftime. McLean ran the ball in from one yard out to regain the lead — Battisti then passed to Ben Delaney for the conversion — and McLean scored again on a 38-yard pass play on a screen from Battisti.
    There would be no more points for Little Falls but the offense managed the clock while the defense and special teams contributed a series of clutch plays.
    Page 2 of 3 - Herkimer (5-1, 4-1 C East) drove 54 yards in three plays with a aid of a personal foul and scored in the third quarter with a pass from Mills to Adrian Viscomi. The Magicians drove again at the end of the third quarter and started teh fourth with the ball at the Little Falls 15. Mills connected with Viscomi again on the first play of the fourth quarter but the touchdown was negated by a holding penalty. On a fourth-and-eight play from the 13, Mills’ pass was batted down in the backfield by Hapeman and Little Falls took possession of the ball.
    “We wanted this,” Hapeman said. “We knew what we had to do to win and we did it. It was a team thing. Everybody did what they had to do.”
    The Mounties drove the ball across midfield and Delaney pinned Herkimer at its 6-yard line with a punt and Devin Dawley’s tackle of Viscomi. The teams traded punts and another well-placed kick by Delaney left Herkimer at its own 7 with 3:13 left to play. Herkimer caught a break on second down when Hapeman, who had knocked another pass down on first down, got to Mills in the end zone and prompted the quarterback to throw the ball away. A flag was thrown and intentional grounding was signaled but the officials waived off the penalty after a conference.
    The Magicians turned the ball over on downs but got one more chance on offense when Delaney’s 29-yard field goal try went wide to the right. Mills completed three passes and moved the Magicians out to the 44 with 34 seconds on the clock. Zach Steele then took a lateral from Mills, turned and threw a 23-yard pass to Eric Johnston. Another flag was thrown, however, that would prove costly to Herkimer. Johnston was penalized for offensive pass interference, negating the play and moving the Magicians back 15 yards, Mills spiked the ball to stop the clock for the last time at the 18-second mark and the game ended with Hapeman sacking Mills.
    Battisti ran for 128 yards and passed for 50 for the Mounties while McLean 88 yards on 20 carries.
    Viscomi had 57 yards on five catches for Herkimer which finished with 65 rushing yards and 102 passing as a team. Brandon Oldfield made 15 tackles on defense. James Tangorra added nine tackles, Alex Shepardson had eight and each was in on two sacks. Stephen Napolitano had seven tackles and a sack.
    The loss ended Herkimer’s 14-game winning streak against Section III teams. The Magicians’ last loss was against Altmar-Parish-Williamstown Oct. 22, 2010.
    The win puts Little Falls in the postseason for the first time since 2005 and sends the Mounties on the road Friday for a rematch with Herkimer, the Class C East champion, which holds the top seed in the smaller Class C bracket.
    “We knew the scenario coming in,” Alan Steele said. “Nobody is happy with the situation this week but it’s behind us now. As far as we’re concerned this is the beginning of a new season.”
    Herkimer      6    0    6    0 — 12
    Little Falls      6  14    0    0 — 20
    First Quarter
    LF — Mike Battisti 65 run (pass failed).
    HERK — Zach Steele 11 run (pass failed).
    Second Quarter
    LF — Tyler McLean 1 yard run (Ben Delaney pass from Battisti).
    LF — McLean 38 pass from Battisti (pass failed).
    Third Quarter
    HERK — Adrian Viscomi 21 pass from Austin Mills (pass failed).
    Records — Herkimer 5-1, 4-1 C East; Little Falls 2-4, 2-3 C East.
    Compiled From Times Staff Reports

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