First meeting for Panthers, Indians in nine years
HOOSICK, N.Y. — Somewhere in the deep blue skies, legendary coach Ken Baker will be smiling down this Friday when the Hoosick Falls and Cambridge football teams meet up to play.
Coach Baker, who coached at Hoosick Falls from 1972-1985 and Cambridge from 1986-1995, passed away in 2008 and surely would be happy to see the two programs he helped build finally meet again on the gridiron named in his honor.
For the first time since 2009, the Panthers and Indians will play each other Friday in Hoosick for the Ken Baker Jug.
The last time the two teams met, it was Hoosick Falls edging Cambridge 21-19.
Fast forward nine years and both teams come into Friday's game with perfect 2-0 records.
"We don't have a lot of rivalries, but it's nice to play the school down the road," said Hoosick Falls coach Ron Jones. "The jug is meaningful to [Cambridge coach] Doug [Luke] and I."
Both Jones and Luke played for their respective schools in the rivalry previously.
The Indians, who are ranked No. 1 in the NYSSWA Class C rankings, have picked up right where they left off last November when they were winning their second consecutive Class D state championship at the Carrier Dome.
Now in Class C, Cambridge just keeps on winning. Week 1, the Indians took on Hoosic Valley and were dominant from the first snap. Four different players rushed for a touchdown in that game, led by Tyler Linendoll, who rushed for 139 yards. Cambridge went on to bludgeon Valley 41-7.
Last weekend, the Indians faced one of their biggest tests of the season against Holy Trinity, last season's Class C runner-up. Once again, Cambridge passed that test with flying colors. Linendoll rushed for a pair of scores, while Tommy English had one of his own, as the Indians won 35-17.
Continuing with a trend of dominant Cambridge running backs, English has ran for 291 yards over the first two weeks and Linendoll has ran for 287.
Defensively, Nate Genevick, Hunter Day and Patrick Hughes have been great at pressuring the quarterback with each having a sack on the season, while Linendoll and English both have an interception.
As impressive as the Indians have looked early in the season, their opponents this Friday have been equally impressive.
Coming off a 5-4 record last year, Hoosick Falls looks to be a major threat in Class C this year.
Week 1, the Panthers offense had a field day against Whitehall in a 58-31 win.
Junior running back Max Kipp had a career day with 235 yards rushing on the day, along with five rushing scores. Fellow running back Liam McGarvin added 125 yards rushing for good measure.
Sam Richard was efficient at quarterback in the opener with 168 yards passing on a 9-for-11 day.
The Panthers had a harder time putting Canajoharie last Friday after taking a 22-point lead, but still held on for a 28-24 victory at home.
"Kipp has done a lot of good things, he's worked hard," Jones said. "He's a diligent athlete, works on his strengths and weaknesses. It's been all on display so far."
After two weeks of play, Kipp leads the area with 324 yards rushing.
Player like Nate Miller, Jeffrey Vincent and Craig Sawyer have all made major impacts on defense for the Panthers.
Both teams have potent running games, reliable quarterbacks and defenses that can back them up.
"Line play is so important, Cambridge is really talented on the perimeter, so there's not a ton of big plays," Jones said. "We have to have a good night on the line, limit the big play and make some of our own."
Friday's game should be a fun one.
It's time for Coach Baker to sit back and enjoy the fruits of his labor. The two programs he helped build figure to put on a show Friday night.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Ken Baker Field.
Adam Samrov can be reached at email@example.com and followed at @Banner_Sports on Twitter. Adam Aucoin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.
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