By PAUL ANTONELLI
For The Express
Gloversville head coach Jared Bongo makes it no secret that he expects Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake will be the team to beat in the Section II Class A division and everyone else will be gunning for second place.
One of those teams is his own Huskies squad that returns six players with a combined 17 years of varsity experience at the Class A level.
Class A is one league with nine teams and will therefore go with an eight-game regular season and a four-team playoff – a first for Class A since the 2004 realignment.
“Their skill guys are just tremendous,” Bongo said of Burnt Hills. “They may have question marks up front but their skill guys make up for it. It’s the first time in my years that we don’t have to face a Stanavich at Amsterdam. It should be an interesting season. It’s anybody’s game.”
Bongo has a talented core of skill players himself – led by senior quarterback William “Buck” Galster, who was penciled in as the Huskies starting quarterback last year but suffered a wrist injury in a preseason scrimmage that sidelined him for five weeks. When Galster returned, he started in the slot on offense and was the starting safety on defense.
“Buck is an athletic kid who can throw the ball,” Bongo said. “We feel we are a good football team with him there.”
Galster is looking forward to being healthy again and running the spread offense.
“I feel better than I did last year,” Galster said. “My goal was to get stronger and for my hand to heal. It feels great.”
Galster will have no shortage of weapons. The backfield looks solid with returners Trevor Mee and Jared Malagisi expected to get a bulk of the carries, but watch out for Amsterdam transfer student Ethan Hunt, a sophomore who has size and speed to create havoc for opposing defenses.
“When Ethan runs, he runs downhill hard with a chip on his shoulder,” Bongo said.
One of Galster’s top weapons will be senior tight end Korey Cotugno – a three-year starter. Also expected to contribute are wide receivers Julien Deumaga and Petey Raldiris.
The offensive line will be anchored by center Pryce Bouchard and guards Hunter Miller and Zachary Alikhan, all returning starters.
“We’ve got some really good skilled guys,” Bongo said. “If we can be average up front, we’ll have a decent year. Our skills guys are that good.”
Defensively, the line will be anchored by sophomore left tackle Anthony Albanese and junior right tackle John Carpenter. Seniors Ian Hoyt and Gavin Gerighty will see time at defensive end.
Four linebackers — Cotugno, Malagisi, Alikhan, and Mee — will support that front line. Kameren Port will also see time at linebacker.
One of Bongo’s biggest challenges will be to keep his Huskies squad fresh. Gloversville has just 23 players listed on the varsity with many playing on both sides of the ball. There are currently 27 players listed on the junior varsity roster.
“We match up skill-wise with most teams,” Bongo said. “It’s going to be tough to play against teams with a roster of 50. It’s so important for us to stay healthy. If we can stay healthy, we should be okay.”