PERU — The old adage “defense wins championships” has been given merit this late in the football season at Peru.
Nick Damiani’s rugged defense has pitched three consecutive shutouts and averaged just over a touchdown allowed in 10 games this season.
The Indians (10-0) travel to Shenendehowa High School tonight to take on Section II representative Glens Falls at 7 p.m. in the NYSPHSAA quarterfinal round.
“When our defense is able to control the game and tackle well, we’re able to maintain our game plan,” Damiani said. “Our players are excited when they’re on the opposite side of the football, and they know we have to be solid.
“It’s a huge plus to be playing as physical as we have been lately. The key is to get multiple helmets on a kid carrying the football.”
Glens Falls (9-1), which picked up its first Section II Class B championship in 19 years with a 21-14 victory against Schalmont, features a balanced offensive attack.
Joe McMahon, a physical 6-foot-2, 200-pound back, has accumulated 740 yards on 94 carries and seven touchdowns on the year. Fullback Mike LaNoir totaled 73 carries for 490 yards and five end-zone appearances. The two bruisers take the ball predominately out of the I-formation.
“We have to be equally prepared for whoever touches the ball out of the backfield,” Damiani said. “The offense runs a lot of motion. They may start single back but will switch into the I-formation. McMahon has good breakaway speed, and we need to get as many guys to the football as possible.”
While Glens Falls has garnered 1,616 rushing yards as a team, quarterback Cam Girard has tossed 808 yards and 15 touchdowns.
“(Girard) can make plays that will hurt you,” Damiani said. “He’s comfortable in the pocket and steps up well to deliver the ball downfield. He has great field vision and recognizes the coverage.”
Peru’s signal-caller, Blake Altizer, has thrown for 1,482 yards and 25 touchdowns during his inaugural varsity campaign.
“He knows he doesn’t have to put as much pressure on himself as last week,” Damiani said. “He has a lot of weapons, and it doesn’t have to be all on him to produce. If I were to grade last week’s offense, I’d give it a B. It hasn’t been a concern this week in practice, though.”
Tim Remillard is the leading rusher (768 yards, 10 touchdowns) on a team that features three backs with more than 350 yards on the ground.
“If you look at one of our sets, we can put kids anywhere and have them feel comfortable,” Damiani said. “Our opponents can’t really sleep on anybody. We’ve got guys who can make a big play at any given point in time. (Altizer) understands that.”
Glens Falls’ defense bottled up Schalmont’s Devon Willis, who rushed for over 1,600 yards this season, to 38 yards on his 14 carries before a 67-yard touchdown scamper in the third quarter.
“(Glens Falls) operates a modified 5-3 base,” Damiani said. “They’re solid up front and have a hard-hitting middle linebacker. They controlled Schalmont defensively (last Saturday).”
Damiani and Peru are looking to become the first Class B team from Section VII to knock off a Section II opponent in the Capital District region since state playoffs began in 1993.
The winner of tonight’s contest plays Our Lady of Lourdes or Marlboro Nov. 17 at Dietz Stadium in Kingston.
Glens Falls | Peru
Record (9-1) (10-0)
Points (per game) 309 (30.9) 414 (41.4)
Points Allowed (per game) 160 (16) 74 (7.4)
Rushing Yards (per game) 1,616 (161.6) 2,243 (224.3)
Passing Yards (per game) 838 (83.8) 1,511 (151.1)
Rushing Leader Joe McMahon 94-740, 7TD Tim Remillard 68-768, 10TD
Passing Leader Cam Girard 46-97-8-808, 15TD Blake Altizer 79-132-5-1,482, 25TD
Receiving Leader Mike LaNoir 22-423, 9TD Tim Remillard 23-393, 4TD
For live updates from Peru's Class B quarterfinal tonight, follow @sportsCourt on Twitter.com.