(June 30, 2010) -- A football coach rotates a new running back into the backfield late in the second quarter to keep the starter's legs fresh.
A basketball coach brings in his sixth man late in the first quarter to keep a starter from picking up his third foul.
A lacrosse coach runs the faceoff specialist back onto the field as a long stick to clamp down on the opposition's high-scoring midfielder.
And when Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake's defending state championship team gets edged out of returning to the NYSPHSAA girls cross country meet despite being one of the strongest squads in New York, Bob McGuire just plugs his girls soccer team into the equation.
In all cases it's called "depth," and the latter case goes a long way toward explaining how Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake has won the overall NYSSWA All-Sport Championship for the second consecutive year. The New York State Sportswriters Association announced the results of its second annual ASC competition this morning.
Burnt Hills scored 45.17 points to edge North Rockland (42.5) and Honeoye Falls-Lima (42) for overall honors in the combined boys and girls scoring covering 27 sports from the just-completed school year. Others defending their championships were Maple Grove (combined Class D scoring), Jamesville-Dewitt (boys Class A), Maple Grove (boys Class D) and Rhinebeck (girls Class C).
The Burnt Hills formula for success was remarkably similar to a year ago. Once again, the Spartans won a New York State Public High School Athletic Association boys cross country championship, reached the finals in football and fell one spot short of a berth in the girls state volleyball finals to account for 33 points in the ASC standings.
But whereas the Burnt Hills girls earned the state Class A cross country championship in 2008, they were beaten in last November's Section 2 meet by Queensbury. Burnt Hills qualified four individuals for the state meet and all placed in the top 20 while Queensbury won the team title.
"We were the second-best (Class A) team in the state," said McGuire, who's been the Spartans' athletic director for 14 years.
Having to make up first-place points in the All-Sport Championship standings would be implausible for most schools, but not Burnt Hills. The Spartans picked up 2.5 points from its Section 2 championship team in boys basketball and 2.67 based on its finish in the boys track meet this month. And in the fall, the girls soccer team won sectionals and reached the state semifinals for another 7 points.
In all, Burnt Hills won won 10 Section 2 championships in the 2009-10 school year and placed second in five other sports. And McGuire's program, which he says is fueled by the work and enthusiam of the coaches, has a double-barreled leg up on the competition when the bid for a three-peat begins this fall:
(1) Boys volleyball will conduct its first NYSPHSAA championship in November, qualifying it as a scoring sport in the All-Sport Championship standings. Burnt Hills won a five-section regional in the sport two years ago and placed third last November.
(2) "We didn't graduate a lot of (key) seniors this month, so there's a lot coming back," McGuire said.
And the pipeline remains full. Like many districts across New York, Burnt Hills has trimmed its interscholastic sports budget considerably recently (about 30 percent over the last two years), but the youth and recreational programs remain robust in the community. The Junior Spartans programs, which typically start between third and sixth grade, have more than 5,000 participants each year, keeping McGuire and Kevin Fitzpatrick busy scheduling gym and field time for the many leagues.
On the plus side for the competition in the upcoming third edition of the All-Sport Championship, the very successful Burnt Hills rowing program and rugby team are club sports for which there are no NYSPHSAA championships -- and hence no ASC points.