Wednesday November 14, 2012

AUSTIN DANFORTH

Assistant Sports Editor

HOOSICK, N.Y. -- "What sport are you looking for?" asked Mike Lilac, the Hoosick Falls Central School boys basketball coach, when I walked into the school's gymnasium Tuesday afternoon.

Fair question.

While most schools have already shifted gears to winter sports like basketball, some, like Hoosick Falls, are still chasing autumn dreams of glory.

OK, none quite like Hoosick Falls, the only campus in New York this fall with state semifinalists in boys soccer, girls soccer and football.

Indeed, the Triple Crown charge is alive and well, evidenced by the varied blue and white signs of school pride -- "Welcome to Title Town," "Go Panthers," "Bring it home Panthers" -- staked across the town. It's hard to travel in any direction here and not encounter at least one if your eyes are open.

The go-to quip about the Panthers' success might have something to do with the water supply, but I'm more worried that the area could run out of posters, markers and paint before the weekend hits.

"There's signs for everybody, all three [teams]," said Evan Phillips, a senior on the boys soccer team. "We're rallying around each other and the entire town -- it's just crazy that three teams have gone this far."

Last fall, with football and girls soccer competing deep into November, the Panthers notched a first with two regional champions -- the title for all Final Four participants -- in one season.


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With boys soccer adding to the sensational trophy haul this time around, the Panthers have matched their record for regional championships in a school year -- and there are still two entire seasons to play. Until now, the banner year had been 1987-88, when field hockey, girls basketball and softball all reached the penultimate round of the postseason.

"The climate in Hoosick Falls right now concerning the athletic program is very [positive]," boys soccer coach Mike Young said. "Everybody is supporting everybody else. It's a great feeling.

"It's a testament to not only the student body but the coaching at the school and the administration that really supports the coaches' philosophies and what we do," he said.

Since 2006, the last year available on the New York Public High School Athletic Association website, a handful of programs have achieved the soccer double with boys and girls squads winning regional titles. Only two large schools, Baldwinsville (Class AA) and Aquinas Institute (A), have had semifinalists in both soccers and football.

Hoosick Falls, with less than 100 students per grade, is the third of New York's 769 public high schools to accomplish the feat.

Remarkable.

Saturday, Hoosick Falls blue and white will be spread hundreds of miles apart. Girls soccer clashes in the Cortland area. Boys soccer suits up in Middletown. Football takes the gridiron in Kingston.

"The whole town's on our side. They're all cheering for us," said Alex Kraus, a sophomore on the boys soccer team. "They've got our backs."

There may have never been a better time to be a Panther.