Saturday November 24, 2012

ADAM SAMROV

Sports Editor

HOOSICK, N.Y. -- Hoosick Falls Central School football coach Ron Jones has something in common with Glens Falls coach Pat Lilac and Burnt Hills coach Matt Shell, the other two teams in state championship battles at the Carrier Dome this weekend.

All three attended and played football at Cortland State -- Jones and Lilac even roomed together at the school.

"We met in 1985 on the football field," said Jones, a 1990 graduate of Cortland State. "We also were together at Norwich."

Continuing the small world theme, Pat Lilac is the brother of Hoosick Falls boys basketball coach Mike Lilac.

"First of all, passing [on the field] at Kingston was awesome," said Jones, who enters the game on Saturday with 108 career victories. "But you go back to the Section II finals. When I heard they won, I was as happy for him as I was for us."

Lilac, a 1991 Cortland graduate, started coaching at Colonie as an assistant coach, then moved to Glens Falls and started as the varsity coach in 2002. Jones, a Hoosick Falls graduate, started coaching at his alma mater in 1998.

"To take the trip by yourself is great, to do this with just your team is awesome," Jones said. "But doing it with someone you are close with and pulling for them is neat. We bounce things off each other, talk a lot during the season and offseason. We each throw out ideas to each other."

With all the craziness of championship week, Jones said he and Lilac haven't had much of a chance to converse.

"He and I have been texting some funny memories back and forth, just a short thing," Jones said. "He threw a couple of things at me that I forgot and vice versa. Having those memories is nice."

Saturday will be Glens Falls' first appearance in a state championship game.

Shell and Burnt Hills brought home Section II's first state championship in football since 2005 on Friday night, a 40-20 win over Section VI's Sweet Home.

"I sent Matt an e-mail, because they've been there a lot," said Jones, who was with Shell for one year at Cortland. "I asked him if he had any gems."

Hoosick Falls will play for the Class C championship in the first game of the day at noon Saturday and Glens Falls will come immediately after at 3 p.m. against Maine-Endwell (Section IV).

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Dome sweet dome?: For the past few weeks, Hoosick Falls has used the Strong Brothers Sports Dome in Pittstown to practice. The facility, which was just put up about a year ago, is a decent approximation of the conditions the players may face at the Carrier Dome.

"Having this here is a big advantage," Jones said. "The footing is perfect. I wanted to be outside on line last week, but it got slick because the field is slippery and most of the grass is gone. This is weather-proof."

Another fact in play is the dryness of the air in the dome. To keep it inflated, the stadium has many air exchange blowers. The dome in Pittstown has one as well.

"It really dries out the air. It's super dry and the kids get dehydrated," Jones said. "[Retired Shenendehowa coach] Brent Steuerwald told me the last time [in 2003] to keep hydrated and by the end of the first quarter the kids were [tired]. At least in here we can get a little climatized."

As far as the play goes, the Pittstown dome is also helpful to get the players used to the background of the white roof at the Carrier Dome.

"It is in play there," Jones said. "It's the same temperature, wind-proof, waterproof. It's going to be a nice day in there."

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If you go: Tickets cost $10 for adults. The Carrier Dome is located at 900 Irving Ave. in Syracuse, N.Y.

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If you can't go: The Banner will be hosting a live blog through our Twitter feed at the paper's Web site on Saturday starting just before noon. To get there and follow along, visit http://www.benningtonbanner.com/sports/ci_22053023/live-blog-hoosick-falls-vs-hornell

The game will also be televised live on Time Warner Cable Channel 50.