November 10, 2012

Moriah no stranger to state quarterfinals

MORIAH — For Don Tesar and Moriah, playing football during the second weekend of November is anything but foreign.

The Vikings (5-5) travel to Schuylerville High School for a 1 p.m. contest against Section II champion Rensselaer for their fourth NYSPHSAA quarterfinal trip in five years.

Today’s matchup will be the seventh all-time meeting between the two teams. Moriah defeated the Rams (9-1) in 1991 and 1992, but Rensselaer was victorious in 1994 and 1995. Moriah won in 2008 and 2009 en route to appearances in the state championship.

“There’s certainly no intimidation because of our familiarity with their program,” Tesar said. “Joel Preston’s father was the coach there before he took over. Things are not too different.”

Tesar’s squad is coming off consecutive victories over Ticonderoga in the Section VII championship and a narrow 12-7 defeat of Tupper Lake last Nov. 2 in the regional semifinals.

The Vikings are led by running back Cameron Wright. The junior bruiser has carried a majority of the workload, rushing for 1,312 yards and 12 touchdowns on 312 carries, good for 78 percent of the total offensive output.

Despite a run-oriented offense, quarterback Cole Gaddor can throw the ball on third-and-short situations or out of the shotgun formation. The senior has accumulated 368 yards and five touchdowns on the year.

The Rams were ranked No. 5 in the latest NYSSWA poll. The perennial Section II power have a balanced attack.

Seth Butler, a physical 6-foot-2-inch, 220-pound presence in the backfield has run for nearly 900 yards on the season to go along with 14 touchdowns. Quarterback Steven Harwood has thrown for 958 yards and 16 touchdowns, while primary target Tyler Oliver recorded 462 of those yards and five scores.

“They can spread it out and run it right at you at the same time,” Tesar said. “(Rensselaer) runs a Saranac Lake-type offense. They’re able to throw short, quick passes.”

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