Sherwood quarterback Dalton Todd, above, and Deerfield quarterback Dallas Margeson face off tonight in the two Albany private schools’ annual rivalry game at Webb Memorial.
Want To Go or Follow Online?
WHO: Sherwood Christian Academy (2-2) at Deerfield-Windsor (4-1).
WHAT: Annual rivalry game.
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. today.
WHERE: Webb Memorial Stadium.
LIVE SCORING UPDATES: twitter.com/AlbHeraldsports.
ALBANY — Can Sherwood Christian beat Deerfield-Windsor?
Sure, but it won’t be easy.
“We need to play a perfect game,’’ said Sherwood Christian coach Otis Covington, who has turned the program around at SCA this year.
Covington took over last year and the cupboard was pretty bare, but he has his kids winning games and competing every Friday night with a small squad (just 22 players) that is full of youth (14 of the 22 are either freshmen or sophomores).
The future looks bright at Sherwood, where a win tonight at DWS would do a lot for the Eagles, who have beaten Deerfield just once in the history of the city rivalry.
That was in 1997. DWS holds a 15-1 edge.
“It would be a confidence booster and get us pumped up for the rest of the season,’’ said SCA quarterback Dalton Todd, who is only a sophomore.
Todd is a big reason for Sherwood’s success. He has completed 53 of 72 passes (73 percent) for 582 yards and four touchdowns, and he has also averaging 8.9 yards every time he carries the ball for the Eagles, who are 2-2 and begin Region 3-AA play next week.
Sherwood dropped back down this year to Class AA, which is a better fit for the smaller school. The two rivals had been in the same region the past two years when Sherwood moved up to Region 3-AAA, so those SCA-DWS games carried a lot more weight. Still, even though it’s not a region game, the rivalry makes the game special. And Deerfield has its own motivation.
DWS coach Allen Lowe has 199 wins and can reach the 200-win milestone with a victory tonight. That could produce a huge celebration afterward.
It’s always a big game, and tonight could be a cake with icing and more for Lowe’s team.
“This place will be packed by 7 o’clock,’’ said DWS running back and Herald Dynamite Dozen selection Kh’Ron McClain of the game at Webb Memorial Stadium that will begin at 7:30 p.m. “It will be a great atmosphere.’’
Dalton said it’s more exciting because it’s a cross-town rivalry.
“It’s always more fun when you are playing against people you grew up with,’’ he said. “And people from all over Albany will be at this game.’’
DWS feels the same way.
“It’s a fun game,’’ said DWS two-way lineman Weston King, a senior who is 3-0 against Sherwood. “And it always brings it to another level when you know the other team personally. It’s definitely going to be a good game. They are better than everybody gives them credit for, and they want to win.’’
Kids on both teams said they just have to concentrate on the game.
“We look at it as just another game,’’ Sherwood receiver Chandler Tabb said Thursday. “It’s just that everybody talks about this game. We have to put that all aside and play the game.’’
DWS will be the favorite.
The Knights are 4-1 and ranked No. 1 in the GISA Class AAA state poll and will be at home tonight, but Lowe knows his team will have its hands full.
“They’re a good team,’’ Lowe said. “Otis has done a real good job. They do a good job executing their offense, and they’ve got some good football players.’’
Sherwood looks like a playoff team in Class AA and has already played tough against Class AAA Southland, which is unbeaten and appears to be Deerfield’s biggest obstacle in the Region 3-AAA race.
“They played right with Southland in the first half,’’ Lowe said. “But (Sherwood doesn’t) have much depth, and it looked like Southland wore them down in the second half. That’s what we hope we can do.’’
Deerfield’s offense has been rolling all season. McClain has gained 703 yards, averaging more than 11 yards per carry, and quarterback Dallas Margeson has completed 34 of 58 passes for 465 yards and eight touchdowns. DWS’ defense has also been tough all season, and as Lowe points out: “We have given up some big plays but no one has driven the ball on us. I think our defense has a chance to get even better.’’
Deerfield is that loaded.
“We look at them on film and there are no glaring weaknesses,’’ Covington said. “We have to execute and be perfect.’’
The Eagles’ youth movement has everyone at Sherwood buzzing about this year’s season and the future of the program.
“It’s exciting,’’ Covington said. “The younger kids who played last year as freshmen are now sophomores. They worked hard in the offseason and it has paid off.”
Todd is one of those sophomores.
“We had a lot of young guys who played last year,’’ Todd said. “And now we’re a year older and we have matured. Our experience level is higher.’’
And they believe they can win.
“We play as a team,’’ said two-way lineman Quantrevious Cameron, a senior. “We really work hard and play as a team and pick each other up.’’
Sherwood has had a number of players come through this season, including Tabb, who leads the team in receptions (13 for 260 yards and one TD), T.J. Clay, who has run three kickoffs back for touchdowns, and freshman running back Chaz Griffin, who is coming off a big night last week.
“Chaz averaged about 15 yards a carry last week,’’ Covington said. “We are a running back (rotation) by committee, and because of our youth all of our running backs are either freshmen or sophomores. Dalton is our leading rusher. He has rushed for about 300 yards.
“We’ve had different players step up at different times, and it shows the team is improving and shows we can be explosive.’’
That’s what Covington is hoping for tonight — some explosiveness and a big night of fireworks for Sherwood. Deerfield is ready to celebrate Lowe’s milestone victory.
It’s Sherwood and Deerfield.