Who: Sweet Home Panthers (12-0) vs. II-Burnt Hills Spartans (11-1)
What: New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class A football championship.
When: Today, 3 p.m.
Where: Carrier Dome, Syracuse.
Tickets: $10, two-game session.
Television: Time Warner Cable SportsChannel.
Buffalo News large school poll: Sweet Home No. 2 (previous poll was Nov. 6).
New York State Sportswriters Assn. Class A poll: Sweet Home No. 2 (same as last week), Burnt Hills No. 4 (same as last week). No. 1 is Lawrence of Section VII (Nassau County), which does not compete in the NYSPHSAA playoffs.
Sweet Home at the Dome: 2-0. This is the Panthers’ third appearance in the last five seasons. Sweet Home beat Burnt Hills in its back-to-back wins in 2008 (35-28) and 2009 (34-7), which were part of the Panthers’ 36-game win streak.
Burnt Hills at the Dome: 0-3. This is the Spartans’ fourth trip in the last five years. It lost last year’s final to Maine-Endwell (27-20). All of Burnt Hills’ six state tournament appearances have come in the last seven years; it also has one semifinal loss and a quarterfinal loss. Its five straight Section II championships equal the most all-time in the Albany-area section.
Where’s Burnt Hills? The school — and district — officially known as Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake is located in the Capital Region, north of Schenectady and Albany. The Spartans are perennial powers in many sports in Section II.
Coaches: Sweet Home, John Faller, 27th season (191-71-1); Burnt Hills, Matt Shell, 11th season (98-23).
How they got here: Sweet Home scored two touchdowns in the first 2:35 of the third quarter and its defense pitched a shutout in the second half as it went on to a 40-22 victory over state No. 7 Union-Endicott of Section IV (Binghamton area). Burnt Hills notched a 28-13 win over previously undefeated No. 5 Cornwall, the champion of Section IX (downstate’s Dutchess, Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties).
Sweet Home key players: Sr. QB Mike Torrillo, 6-2, 175; So. RB/DE Jordan Evert, 5-11, 175; Sr. RB/DB Kahlil Humphrey, 5-9, 165; So. WR/LB Brad Zaffram, 6-0, 205; Sr. WR/DB Michael McCoy, 6-1, 165; Sr. RB/LB Josh Roe, 5-11, 190; Sr. WR/DB Carter Mann, 5-10, 160; Sr. WR/LB Shaun Huebert, 5-11, 205; Sr. WR/DB Calvin Martin, 6-3, 180; Sr. WR/DE Jashawn Marin, 5-10, 195; So. WR/LB Brandon Smiley, 6-0, 170; Sr. OL/DL Billy Attea, 6-3, 220; Sr. OL/DL Jeff Pinto, 5-10, 220; Sr. OL/DE Joe Matyjasik, 5-10, 185.
Burnt Hills pre-snap read: The Spartans only loss was in its season opener, 17-7 to Troy. Troy went on to a 6-3 season, losing in the Section II semifinals to Amsterdam (40-21), which lost to Burnt Hills (48-6) in the final. The Spartans then beat Section X champion Potsdam, 42-0, in the regional round for the second time in three seasons. It beat Cornwall for the second straight year in the semifinals and for the third time in four years. The victory over Cornwall had some of the hallmarks of Sweet Home’s postseason — long drives and top-notch defense (both teams shut out their opponent in the second half in their semifinal wins). Burnt Hills beat the high-powered passing attack of Cornwall, which boasted the all-time passing leader from Section IX and a 1,000-yard receiver, by recording three interceptions (by Eric Dillon, Shomari Ingram and Mike Danz).
It stopped Cornwall drives on the doorstep of the end zone and responded with scoring drives of 99 and 98 yards. Burnt Hills is generally a run-first team, and it hasn’t missed a step despite being without top running back Daniel Porter during the postseason. Dan Maynard, Josh Quesada and David Newell have moved the ball on the ground while Sr. QB Ryan McDonnell (58-102, 857 yards, 11 TDs) is a seasoned leader.
At buffalonews.com: Live blog with play-by-play coverage of both of today’s games; comment in the blog or via Twitter using the hashtag #preptalkscores. PrepTalkTV video recaps will follow.
In Saturday’s News: Coverage of today’s two state championship games and a game day capsule of the Class AA state championship between Orchard Park and I-New Rochelle.
— Keith McShea