Several Class A Gridders Should Be Among Title Contenders; Class AA Mahopac Ushers in New Era; Carmel Set to Reload
There will be an insane amount of optimism advancing between the Section 1 Class A borders of Somers and Yorktown this fall. The two neighboring football rivals are as hyped as ever as we enter the 2017 campaign: Somers fresh off its first ever 2016 NYSPHSAA championship and Yorktown still feeling the ill-effects of its 42-6 Section 1 title drubbing at the hands of Coach Tony DeMatteo’s Tuskers last November.
Throw in a promising Hendrick Hudson program, a rebuilding but still respected Brewster outfit, a new perspective at Lakeland and some exciting talent at Walter Panas, and Class A football has the makings to attract some wild crowds in and about the Northern Westchester/Putnam County regions. Lakeland will introduce its first-year coach, Mike Meadows, as the Hornets unveil their new and improved Hive, a sparkling modern turf facility, on September 2nd, better known as opening day of the 2017 Section 1 grid season.
Class AA Mahopac has a new, fair-haired boy in Coach Dominick DeMatteo, the former leading man at Arlington and Nyack, the son of Somers boss Tony D and the hope of Mahopac football all rolled into one. Additionally, Carmel, which comes off a solid 2016 season, is quite fond of its two-year stranglehold on the coveted Higgins trophy, signifying its recent command of Mahopac.
No matter where you look the optimism is rampant, running as feverishly as each team’s best running back. From the trenches to the skill spots, we got you covered…
|NORTH CENTRAL SOUTH WEST|
|Somers Yorktown Rye Lourdes|
|John Jay Hen Hud Harrison Sleepy Hollow|
|Brewster Panas Eastchester Tappan Zee|
|Beacon Lakeland Byram Hills Nyack|
|Pough’sie Peekskill Lincoln Pearl River|
2016 result: 12-1, NYSPHSAA Class A champions
Coach: Tony DeMatteo (334-106-4, 48th season overall, 17th at Somers)
Top Returnees: Who’s getting the ball now that All-NYS playmakers Messiah Horne and Matt Pires have graduated and moved on to the University of Rhode Island? The competition is fierce and open with RBs Cameron Pepe, Rob Fazzinga, Vincent Cartelli, Mike Somoza, Antonio Vieira, Justin Lancaster and FB Tyler Carr all potentially getting some run. Jack Gilroy, a 6-3, 220-pound senior TE/DE, is poised to do damage on each side of the ball. Senior DB Vincent DiFilippo is a ball-hawking threat and excellent in coverage.
The Tuskers have so much talent back on defense, including eight of their leading 11 tacklers, spearheaded by Vieira, a run-stuffing, edge-rushing menace to society. Gilroy (79 tackles, 4 sacks) is among the top DE’s in the section and will develop this season as a wily receiver. The 6-3, 220-pounder is a lethal downfield threat and should draw major targets from two-year senior QB Kevin Olifiers (1,479 yards, 14 TD passes), who is set to emerge from the shadows of Pires and Horne.
“My prime targets this year will be Jack Gilroy, Vincent (V) Cartelli, Justin Lancaster, Connor Gill, Anthony Decoro and Antonio Vieira,” Olifiers said. “We will be running by committee and it will be much different than last year.”
What won’t be much different is Somers’ prowess up front as 6-5, 275-pound Yale-bound OT Nick Gargiulo – a man among boys — and hard-nosed G/NG Chris DiCintio return along the line. Jack Farrell, Dom Cheek, Robert Curma and John Squitieri make up the rest of the grunts.
“We just finished triple sessions and our team is excited, attacking each day with hard, deliberate practices,” Olifiers said. “We are truly spreading the ball around this season.”
Tusker Andrew Cassin, a weapon on returns and a HB, will be a key newcomer.
Final Thoughts: It’s unlikely that DeMatteo, who won his second state title last year (Roosevelt, 1994), and his staff will permit a ‘fat-cat’ mindset to permeate among this cast of veterans and mix of wide-eyed greenhorns. Therefore, Somers will remain hungry and its desire to feast will be as strong as last year. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Tuskers aren’t one of the last two teams standing, though Yorktown, Rye, Lourdes, John Jay CR and dark horse Hen Hud are just a handful of potential obstacles. Fact: Somers is thriving while many other programs are in decline. Numbers are up, optimism is sky high and there seems to be a “Come-Get-Some” sense among the masses. We suspect Somers will be one of the last two standing and representing in the state tournament for the second time in history is well within the realm of possibility.
The Tuskers will kick it off at home this Friday when they welcome Poughkeepsie back to Section 1 after a brief stint in Section 9.
Coach: Mike Rescigno (12th season, 75-37)
Last year: 9-1, lost to Somers in Section 1 Class A title game
Key Returners: senior RB/LB Brett Makar (6, 185), senior RB/DB Brandon Meyreles (5-9, 176), junior QB Tommy Weaver (5-9, 160), senior TE/DE Alex Ujkaj (5-11, 180).
“Brett Makar is a special athlete that comes around once every so often,” Rescigno said. “He is the total package. First, he is one of the most solid and upstanding student-athletes you will ever meet: Loyal as heck, respectful, diligent and accountable. He’s a tremendous leader. The kid plays like a man. Offensively, he can run past you or run over you. Defensively, he will always get a hat on the ball. Brett will tell you that he is flanked with some pretty solid help. Brandon Meyreles is another kid coming back who was a tremendous impact last year. Tommy Weaver has taken command of our offense, replacing Jose Boyer under center. We are expecting that Tommy will pick right up where Jose left off. Yes, they are big shoes to fill but the will be ready.”
Final Thoughts/Coach’s Comments: They are fired up, as always, for the new season in the land of the Cornhuskers.
“Gotta feel blessed to be coaching the single greatest game in the world,” Rescigno said. “More importantly, my staff and I are excited because we have a group of kids that we love.”
A group that hasn’t forgotten the sting of the 2016 campaign and the memories of a Section 1 Class A championship blowout loss at the hands of Somers.
“This group has come into this season with a very strong sense of reality,” Rescigno stated. “Our 9-0 season went out with an awful taste. Many people will tell you that we should be very proud of a season with only one loss, and we are; however, that wound is still wide open. To be honest, it has motivated both staff and players alike to work even harder, and we have been.”
Rescigno has made a name for himself as one of the section’s top coaches and tradition says the Huskers are always in it to win it, despite not having won a sectional title since 1998. Yorktown will be young in some areas and the offensive line is still a work in progress, but the expectation is for the new guys to understand their role in this team’s tradition.
“Their role is simple; Bring a tangible level of competitive toughness to every down at practice,” Rescigno said. “Every down needs to be a fight. Every measurable moment of practice has to have something a stake. This is the single best way to decrease your chances of disappointing yourself or your team. We take that very seriously. The Huskers will have new faces in many positions. However, our expectations remain the same.”
The Huskers open this Friday at Lakeland, then head to Panas in Week 2, which should set up a Week 3 track meet at home against Hen Hud.
Coach: Mike Lynch (7th season, overall record 24-29)
Last season Results: 5-4 overall, 4-2 league, playoffs (1st round defeated TZ 20-14, quarterfinals lost @ Brewster 42-28)
Top Returners: Junior- TE/MLB Michael Fasolino (6-1, 215, All-Section HM, All-League). Offensively, Fasolino was QB Nick Cunningham’s safety blanket over the middle of the field last year, leading to a very productive sophomore season (24 receptions, 370 yards, 5 TDs). Defensively, he was very disruptive at DT, but he’ll be switching positions this year and will move to MLB. He quite possibly the best two-way player Hen Hud has had since 1999 (Mike Pritts). He is to the Sailors what Gronk is to the Patriots.
Junior- RB/OLB Jordan Grullon (5-8, 175, All-Section HM, All-League). Grullon is among the most electric players in Class A and can do it all offensively. The powerful speedster galloped for over 700 total yards as a sophomore (354 rushing, 347 receiving) and found the end zone eight times and was tied for third on the team in receptions (27). It’s entirely possible that Grullon establishes career yardage records at Hen Hud when all is said and done. He has the potential to set the all-time record for rushing yards in a season this year if he stays healthy and the O-line meshes.
“His workload is expected to increase as he will become the focal point of the offense,” Lynch said. “Defensively, he’s a very talented open-field tackler, who also returned two interceptions for TDs last season.”
Senior- WR/FS Alan Porter-Jackson (6’, 175, All-League). Porter-Jackson was among the most game-breaking threats in Class A last year and had some of the most spectacular catches in Section 1. He was second on the team in catches last season with 29 and 389 yards and scored four TDs. We suspect he’ll double those numbers this year.
Senior- C Doug Smith 6’0″ 275 (Captain). Devoted Smith is the anchor of the offensive line. He started every game last year and is the most experienced linemen on the club.
“Doug is the most dedicated player in the program,” Lynch said. “He never missed a lifting session this summer. He will be the leader on the O-line.”
Senior- WR/DE Jake Travis (6’3, 190) started every game at DE last season. He is now expected to become a two-way starter.
Key Newcomers: Junior- QB Manny Carbone (5-11, 175) will find it tough to replace the guy – Nick Cunningham — that rewrote the passing records at Hen Hud. Cunningham departed Sailor Country as its most decorated QB with 19 school records to his credit, but Carbone is a very suitable replacement.
“As crazy as it sounds, for an offense that averaged 40 points per game last season, I think can be even more dynamic with Manny at the helm,” Coach Lynch said. “Manny is a true dual-threat quarterback. He is the fastest player in the program. Last season in a limited role on offense he averaged almost 10 yards per carry (26 carries, 255 yards, 6 TDs). Manny has worked extremely hard this summer to improve his accuracy and understanding of our pass concepts and protection calls.”
Junior- RB/LB Donte White was very explosive on JV last season. Has looked great in 7 on 7s this summer. Working primarily out of the slot. He’s very difficult for linebackers to guard in space.
Quick Facts: Expected to have between 30-35 players on varsity. Porter-Jackson is a three-sport stud.
Coach’s Comment: We expect to be competitive in every game we play this season. Our defense should be improved with the new personnel and position changes. We’re excited to see the offense take shape around a running back, in Grullon, that can break it on any play. QB Manny can beat you with his arm or legs, and has a deep threat in Alan Jackson and a big tight end working the seam in Fasolino. The key for this team will be how quickly can the offensive line gel, come together and get on the same page.
Final Thoughts: The fact that Lynch is willing to put Carbone in the same sentence with Cunningham tells you all you need to know about the potential drop-off under center. If the Sailors decide to commit defensively, this unit will be a compelling group to watch as they vie for the first sectional championship in Hen Hud history. Playmakers about, but is anybody besides the usual suspects willing to mix it up in the defensive fray? The Sailors, who would make for a great fantasy football squad, will put up an incredible amount of points this season – bank on it – but if the score 40 and the other guy drops 41, it won’t much matter.
We’re expecting a much better effort on defense this season and we’re thinking the Sailors, if they stay grounded and humble, could be Final 4-bound and might even shock the section and show up at Mahopac, what would be their first sectional championship appearance since the 1999 Mike Pritts-led Sailors lost to the Sammy Maldanado-led Harrison Huskies, who, ironically enough, the Sailors will open up with in a Week 1 doozy.
We told folks in this space, two years ago, mind you, that the Sailors were turning a corner under Coach Lynch, a real go-getter. If not this year, then next; the Sailors will be a major force #AnchorUpFullSpeedAhead.
Coach: Ed Mulvihill, 30-15, 5th year
2016 Result: 8-1, lost to Somers in semis
With so much turnover on offense, Brewster will rely on its defense this year to keep them in games, according to Mulvihill.
Key Returners — It all starts with the three LB’s that are back for their senior year. Three-year starters, including stout Manny Costales (5-9, 220), Mike Buonnadonna (5-8, 175) and Tim Meissner (6, 195) will lead the defense. Run-stuffing senior DT/OL JJ Jiminez (6-2, 260) will be a force on the D line with Tino Surace (5-9, 230), Ryan Jackson (6, 160), Dylan Gusler all seeing time at DE/LB.
What’s New: The secondary is all new starters as Mike Ercole, Tyler Smith, Paul Catalano, Josh Nelson, Kove Lambert, Charlie Russell and Brian Spellman are all in the mix.
Offensively, the Bears have to make up for a lot on offense with the graduation of 1st team All-NYS QB Jack Guida and RB Henry Terry. Those two players accounted for 90% of the Bears offense last season. This season look for Brewster to spread the ball around to different players. Brendan Fox, Lou Martin and veteran Buonadonna are all vying for the starting QB position.
“Each has a different tool set to offer, so we may have some different looks depending on who is out there,” Coach Mulvihill stated.
RBs Buonadonna, Owen Hamm and Josh Nelson will be in the backfield. Versatile Tim Meissner, Dom Triolo and Ryan Jackson will man the H-back position. At the receiver spots, the Bears have a host of players to turn to, including Chris Skorewicz, Nick Sheehan, Paul Catalano and Charlie Russell on the outside with Mike Ercole, Brian Spellman and Kove Lambert in the slot.
O-Line: Jiminez, Costales, Andrew Noce at center, Will Banks, Nick Girard, and Ryan Lynch. Mark Delgado, Nick Gonch and Tino Surace will also be in the rotation for playing time. At TE, Dylan Gusler, Surace and Jackson will all see time.
Coach’s Comment: We’re still trying to figure out who we are right now. We may start out a little slow but we hope to be improving all season and getting hot at the right time. We’re looking forward to the scrimmage to find some answers.
Final Thought: Brewster’s senior class, which may have been its best since the Bears were regularly competing for NYS championships between 1996-99, will be extremely difficult to replace, if not impossible this season. Contending the way in which the Bears have the past three years, will be a tall order. Matching similar expectations should be tempered, given the losses at the skill positions and the bulk of its mass up front. Still, the Bears are nobody’s pushover, and we like to think that their Week 2 matchup with John Jay CR will tell us a lot about the Bears’ future; though they are hardly in a position to look past Tappan Zee in Week 1.
Coach: Dan Patronik (23-25, 8th year)
2016 Result: Finished 4-5, lost to Lourdes (7-0 in playoffs), finished season by beating Eastchester and open up against the Eagles this year.
Top Returners: Brandon Hodge Sr. QB; the nimble veteran has started all 16 games the past two years and returns for his third very comfortable in the system. A captain now, he’s said to have worked hard to increase strength and speed in the offseason. The 2nd team All-Section signal caller is as elusive as they come.
Versatile Jacob Liebert, a senior, returns following a frustrating year. He will be a two-way starter again, and in better shape after losing 20 pounds, he is faster and stronger. This will be his third year starting on the varsity where he can play any position and will be counted on in big spots.
Junior HB David Louis returns following a productive breakout sophomore season. He became the starting tailback and never looked back. Senior Justin Walker returns following a solid year at OLB. Patronick notes his football instincts, quickness to the ball and good coverage skills.
Senior Joe Walsh returns off a solid year at DE and TE last year, at 5’11, 185, he is quick on the outside rush and disruptive to opposing offenses. He will earn more time on the offensive side of the ball this year.
Other returning starters include senior Ryan Scully (6’ 195, disruptive, tough, physical player), senior DB Taji Hargrove (will be counted on to lock down opposing receivers and will see time at receiver as well), senior ILB Gabriel Urena (6’ 200, returns after earning a starting spot, a run stopper and can fill). Big senior OT/DT Jordan Grossberg (6’1, 315 returns as a 2nd year starter, solid run blocker and quick feet). Junior OL Anthony Mastraccio (6’ 205, returns to the offensive line, started all eight games as a sophomore at tackle, will be moved to guard to capitalize on quick toughness inside). Massive senior OL Austin Gilligan (6’8” 335, had a frustrating junior year but has worked hard in the offseason in the weight room and attended several linemen camps. His feet are quicker and the strength is there). Explosive junior Sean Laukitis (5’8, 170, returns after a solid sophomore year in which he returned three kicks for, will take a bigger role on offense this year).
Coach’s Comments: We will continue our style of playing tough Panas football. The key to this season is staying away from injury. Depth is key and finding others to fill in will be key to our success. Specials and defense are the cornerstone of our game this year. Offensively, we should be able to put points up but as always the offensive line will be the key to the season. We have some skill position players and some experience, and winning close games will be key.
Final Thoughts: You had me at Hodge, who can dodge or lodge from the pocket. He will keep the Panthers in games with his arms and legs while Louis keeps opposing defenders honest. The Panthers have some game-breakers if the men in the trenches can do their thing up front. Louis is poised to do damage in Year 2 of what should be a terrific three-year varsity career. After Eastchester in Week 1, we’ll find out if the Panthers are legit or not when they host Yorktown in Week 2.
Coach: Mike Meadows (1st year)
Last year– 3-6 overall record; 2016 playoff result — lost to Yorktown in qualifying round, 39-0
Top returners– Michael Capozzi RB/QB 6’0 175, Armando Smith TE/DE 6’2 200, Justin Rivera RB/LB 190, Raymond Stretz OL/DL 250, Tommy Barnett 5’8 150 RB/DB
Key newcomers– Phil Dellamonica TE/OLB 5’10 180, Kristian Bujaj OL/DL 6’0 230, Dan Ciraco RB/LB 5’9 185, Lucas Kowalski OLB/TE 5’10 170
Quick Facts: 40 guys on varsity, most in recent history and nearly 90 people in the entire program… Multiple looks on defense with a base defense being 4-4. Offensively, Lakeland will be running the zone read. “We have a good core of experienced seniors coming back lead by our four captains Michal Capozzi, Armando Smith, Justin Rivera and Ray Stretz.” Meadows said. “Capozzi is back after missing almost the entire season last year due to injury.”
The defense will be anchored by two of the top four tacklers from last season in Armando Smith and Justin Rivera. Stretz will be a force on defense, as good an interior lineman as Lakeland has had in some time.
Coaches Comments/Outlook: After taking over for Rob Cappelli, who has the most wins in Lakeland football history, I want to build on top of the foundation that was already built. We are an established program with a great feeder system (SOAC) that is very supportive. Although we struggled at times last season, we expect a lot from ourselves as coaches and players this season. We can’t focus on other teams, rather we need to focus on how we can get better and be the best team we can be. What I want from my boys this season is a sense of urgency, competitiveness, and unity… day in and day out. If we do that, then our season will be a success. The backbone of our team will once again be our defense and toughness. That is what Lakeland football is all about.
Final Thoughts: Lakeland comes off a sub-standard season in which it didn’t meet the terms to qualify for the field of eight Class A playoff teams. Longtime Coach Rob Cappelli has retired and replaced by former Hornet RB and assistant Coach Mike Meadows.
Meadows comes into a situation where the skill position players are relatively green but four of his five offensive linemen have varsity experience and playing time, including LT Ray Stretz (6-2, 250), who will guard the blindside of Capozzi and open holes for RB Tommy Burnett. Capozzi’s two main targets figure to be senior WR John Mule and burner John White, who has top-notch, field-stretching speed.
Capozzi has a big-time arm and his brother, Anthony, was a legit force for Cappelli a few seasons ago, but it’s going to take a Herculian effort for Lakeland get over the .500 hump in Meadows’ first go. Truth be told, reaching the quarterfinals should be the realistic, high-end goal, but we’ll know a lot more after a Week 1 dust-up with Yorktown.
CARMEL (League AA-North)
Coach: Todd Cayea (24th season, 131-76-1)
Last Year: 6-3 overall, 2-2 league (lost to New Rochelle, 6-0, in sectional quarterfinals)
Top Returners: senior RB Nick Heis, ILB Dylan Seals, senior WR Henry Flacco, Nick Rodriquez, OL Ryan Beauchesne, Jaden Pellino, junior QB Peyton Cayea
Key Newcomers: QB Aiden Nunez, Joe Mascetta, Rich Keating, Brian McCabe, Sean McCarthy, Alex Beauchesne, Randy Soumakis, Tyler Alloca, John Cox, RB Sam Duke
Quick Facts: The Rams gave two-time defending sectional champion and NYS semifinalists New Rochelle one of its toughest games of the year in a 6-0 post-season setback. Lo’ and behold, the road to the title will go through the Huguenots again.
Coach’s Comment: The question will be developing and young but dedicated offensive line. Plenty of skill players returning, with a good 1-2 punch with Duke and Heis as featured RBs. Rodriquez is a three-year varsity player who could be amongst the best DL in the section. Cayea and Nunez compete for the QB spot. Cayea did see some action as a sophomore. Seals is back at ISLB and led 2016 team in tackles.
Final Thoughts: The QB battle is an intriguing one, but the Rams will go deep often under Coach Cayea, who trusts his players to make plays, including Heis, who should be the bell cow of a dynamic offense. The Rams could be 3-0 by the time they see Arlington in Week 4, which is the start of a rough two-game stretch that also includes John Jay EF, the favorites to win the league.
MAHOPAC (League AA North)
Coach: Dominick DeMatteo (11th year overall, 1st year at Mahopac, previously coached Arlington, Nyack)
Last year: 3-6, lost in playoff qualifying round
Key Returners: senior QB Ryan Dugan, WR/DB Joe Dalo, WR/DB Chris Dalo, OL/DL Chris O’Halloran, OL/DL Matt Posniak, OL/DL Robert Alleva. “These guys have done everything we’ve asked them to do,” DeMatteo said.
Quick Facts: Mahopac has lost the last two games against rival Carmel by a 45-6 combined score, which means the Rams will bring the coveted Higgins trophy to Indian Country in Week 3… First three games of the season are at home.
Final Thoughts/Coach’s Comments: Mahopac is in new-era mode, an epoch that features first-year Indian boss DeMatteo, who ushers in a different attitude and a fresh perspective. DeMatteo takes over for former Coach Mark Langella. The team has accepted the change, which has brought about an upbeat tempo at practice, which may or may not amount to much on the field if the Indians can’t run the ball.
That’s DeMatteo’s biggest challenge; finding the right beast who can line up 7-10 yards deep and push the pile forward. “I honestly don’t know who that will be right now,” DeMatteo admitted in early August. “We’re hopeful someone will emerge.”
That someone might be junior RB Tim Cegieslki, who missed some of the early portions of pre-season due to prior lacrosse commitments, or senior RB Alex DiCioccio, who has had some injury concerns in the past.
“We’re fine with our guys playing lacrosse,” DeMatteo insisted. “We want our athletes playing two and three sports. It’s the best thing for them, but Cegielski’s the guy I keep hearing about, the guy we’d like to think can carry the rock for us.”
DeMatteo knows his QB, senior Ryan Dugan, can sling it, but his receiving corps, albeit willing, is unproven, including the Dalo boys, who should serve as primary targets.
“He’s got a great wrist and can get the ball down field,” DeMatteo said of the 6-5 signal caller with a year under his belt.
Truth be told, this is the start of a rebuilding era. It may take several years before DeMatteo posts an acceptable record, which, at this point in time, would be a .500 season. The league is brutal and runs through rival Carmel, John Jay EF and Arlington. DeMatteo, who wasn’t hired until mid-summer, cannot afford to look ahead, being that the Indians are so far behind.
“It’s about practice tempo, practice structure, new terminology, getting on and off the field and bringing this team up to speed on so many different levels,” he said.
Week 1 against Ossining should provide a manageable foe for the undersized Indians.
OSSINING (League AA-Central)
Coach: Dan Ricci (14th season, 66-56 overall record)
Last year: 1-8 overall, 0-4 League
2016 Playoff Result: didn’t qualify
Top Returners & Accolades: Senior RB James Sanchez, senior OL/DL Farouk Capablo, senior OL/DL Latrell Goss, senior SE/DB Diego Orellana, junior OL/DL Josh Manning, junior RB/LB Isiah Steen RB/LB, junior QB/DB Isiah Beltran, junior RB/DB Zair Fields, senior OL/DL Dan Miranda.
Key Newcomers: Sophomore QB/DB Jaseem Gray.
Quick facts: Ossining’s record in the last 13 years in Class A is 49-18, but the Pride’s Class AA record is 17-38.
Coach’s Comments: We are very young and inexperienced so time will tell how long it takes to jell. Due to the amount of injuries we had last year several of these guys got some valuable varsity experience last year.
Final Thought: Class AA has been hell on the Pride, who simply don’t have the turnout for football that Ossining had through 2007. The lack of numbers has been devastating and it could have a similar effect this season. Coupled with inexperience, the Pride have a tough road to hoe.
Coach: Ryan Elsasser (2nd year, 4-5 record)
Last year: 4-5 overall
2016 Playoff Result: 2016 no playoff appearance, won the Blythedale Bowl
Top Returners & Accolades: Junior Darnel Shillingford All-League WR/LB (6-2, 205, Junior). “We are expecting a strong leadership role this year from Darnel,” Coach Elsasser said. “This will be his second year on varsity and he will be a returning captain. He has been a strong presence on both sides of the ball.”
Jason White WR/DB (6-2, 190, Senior). “Jason has been working extremely hard in the off season to develop a strong set of skills,” Elsasser said.
Travis Anderson QB (5-8 160, Senior). “This will be Travis’ second year behind center for us and we expect a solid and dynamic performance from him,” Elsasser said. “He will have multiple tough backs to give the ball to in the run game as well as a set of impressive receivers to go to in the air.”
Adam Rukaj RB (6-0 200, Senior). “Adam ran the ball well for us last season,” the coach said. “He is a fast and quick back, who is looking forward to getting the ball back in his hands this year.
Versatile senior C/LB Mike Gaitan will be playing both ways in multiple capacities.
“Mike will be a key player; however, the staff is still determining where he will play,” Elsasser said. “He has experience at C, LB and DE and we will be solidifying his role in the coming weeks.”
Senior QB/WR Angelo Milano, senior DT Daniel Martinez, senior OLB Tim Sainz, senior DB Mike Nolan, senior DE Chase Sauther.
Key Newcomers: Junior RB/LB John Listwan (5-10, 205).
“We had a great JV season with Coach Matt Mello working with the team,” Elsasser said. “They learned a great deal under him and I expect some of those players coming up this season to take off athletically and make a name for themselves at the varsity.”
Unexpected Loss: Junior DE/OL Joe Garbowski, who transferred unexpectedly to Stepinac in early August.
Quick facts: 30 players on the roster.
Coach’s Comments: I am looking forward to seeing what this team can do this season. Many of our players are dynamic multi-sport athletes. We have a significant number of players returning on both sides of the ball. The players have been putting in a lot of work at Team Moljo Strength and Conditioning over the summer. As always, leadership and getting the team to come together is a priority. We have a lot of players on this team that are extremely passionate about the game of football and the team that they are part of. When asked what the team quote and philosophy will be for this year, it was a quick response of the single word, “Brotherhood”. We finished last season hot and want to continue that type of play to start this season. Section 1 Class B will be a very competitive class this coming season. Pleasantville is coming off a fantastic finish in the states, Ardsley is adding RB Glenmour Osbourne from White Plains, and of course the always competitive Westlake with QB Rob Dinota returning will make this an exciting season for sure.
Final Thought: PV cannot afford another slow start. It’s one thing to finish hot, but subpar starts have often placed the Tigers in holes they cannot dig out from, leaving them out of the playoffs every year but twice since 2007. There is not a lot of depth on the squad but there is solid talent at the skill positions. Shillingford should break out this year on both sides of the ball.
Coach: Ryan McConville (4th year, 9-18)
Last Year: 3-7 (Section 1 champs, Region 1 champs, lost in state semifinals)
Top Returning Players: Senior QB/FS Brandon Twoguns (719 passing yards, 5 TD passes; 675 rushing yards, 9 TDs), returns with All-League, All-Section and HM All-NYS honors.
Junior RB/LB Sam Giachinta (936 yards & 6 TDs) returns with All-League, All-Conference and HM All-NYS honors. WR/DB Luke Junjulas. Massive size returns in the form of OL/DLs Will Westerhuis (6-2, 245), VJ Fina (5-7, 235) and Matt Ortiz (5-6, 260) and quickness from C Anthony Lombardi (6, 165).
Key Newcomers: Sophomore WR Matt Champlin (6, 150) played as a freshman last season, but sparingly at WR. A great athlete, Champlin will add a new dimension with his height and jumping ability
Coaches Comments: We are going to continue to set the bar high for our program on the field and in the classroom. Off the field, we want to build student athletes who will grow into dedicated, hard-working men. On the field, we want to compete to be the best team in our league and section. I think we have had a successful off-season filled with workouts and camps, and we have a great outline on how to attack our pre-season as we prepare for a tough and competitive schedule. Our team has a ton of guys who have been playing as freshmen and sophomore so we have a ton of experience and understand the hard-work, effort, sacrifices it’s going to take to win the section again.”
Final Thoughts: With Twoguns (5-8, 130) slinging it to Champlin and Sammy “The Bull” Giachinta (5-9, 175) bowling dudes over, the Blue Devils have a two-dimensional attack they lacked last year. As always, Tuckahoe will be standing there before Haldane when all is said and done, and the Tigers have been the main hurdle preventing the Blue Devils from being perennial contenders for the state title, winning seven of the last nine sectional titles. But for the third time in 10 years, it’s Haldane that enters as the hunted, having shocked the demoralized Tigers last season. Don’t be surprised if they do it again. The Blue Devils open up at home against Rye Neck Saturday and will visit Tuckahoe in Week 5.