2021 GRID Preview Edition

Class AA Carmel, Class A Somers Hope to Reign Supreme; Reigning Class B Champ Byram Hills Eyes a Repeat; Pleasantville, Hen Hud Hope to Challenge

By Ray Gallagher, Examiner Sports Editor, @Directrays
& Rob DiAntonio, co-Editor RJD_Photos
Somers 2020-21 sectional regional crown last spring.

First-year Somers head Coach Anthony DeMatteo Jr. has never traveled the easy road a day in his life. If anything, he’s taken the road with the most bumps, the steepest hills and the lion’s share of challenges during a promising varsity career at Somers (2003 grad), followed by a 12-year coaching career as his father’s understudy upon graduating from SUNY Cortland. When legendary Somers/Roosevelt Coach Tony DeMatteo stepped aside last spring as the second all-time winningest coach in New York State history (360 wins), after 52 years on the Section 1 sidelines (22 at Somers), there was little doubt who the legendary coach would tap as his replacement. And there would be no debate from Somers Athletic Director Roman Catalino; the choice was clear.

DeMatteo Jr., now 37, has lived a full life despite a handicap he’s never let slow him down, including his 2010 All-Section senior season as the team’s leading wide receiver and top defensive back. He will inherit a program that won a state title, three Section 1 championships and last spring’s regional bowl championship during his 12 years of tutelage under the great one. Somers has won four sectional titles since the turn of the century. (2000, 2012-13, 2016).

There will be no shortcuts for the 2021 Tuskers, the reigning 2020 co-regional champs, who will enter what we hope is a “normal” Section 1 fall sports campaign as the co-favorites in Class A this September. (The 2020 fall season was postponed due to COVID-19 and an abbreviated, revamped session was concluded last spring on account of some major campaigning from yet another DeMatteo, fifth-year Mahopac Coach Dominick DeMatteo).

There are football programs all across the state of New York that fluctuate cyclically, but there are “football towns” in NYS that rarely, if ever, suffer through “down seasons”: Somers is one of them. With a thriving youth program that continues to feed the DeMatteo stables with young mustangs, Somers and 2020 co-regional champ Rye are the two programs that habitually challenge for Class A supremacy, much like New Rochelle dominates the Class AA landscape, but could face another staunch challenge from Carmel this fall. Coach Todd Cayea’s Rams are legit title contenders, provided the unit does not put the cart before the horses.

You can also bank on Yorktown and John Jay CR to be among the perennial Class A powers, and that shouldn’t change at all this season despite Mahopac’s presence.

Meanwhile, Byram Hills returns with a Class B chip under its belt, having never won one before in the modern state title era (1993 and up). Here’s a deep dive into the 23 football programs throughout the Examiner-area coverage zones from White Plains to Carmel, all of which are hoping for a more typical season, which is expected to conclude with sectional and state playoffs later this fall.

CLASS AA

Carmel QB Kevin Dall (14) will have a ton of weapons at his disposal for the 2021 grid campaign.

CARMEL

2020 Record: 5-1 (there were no playoffs in Class AA in 2020), runner-up to New Rochelle in 2019

COACH: Todd Cayea (27th season, 157-81-1)

Top Returning Players: Sr. QB Kevin Dall, 6-0, 165; Sr. RB/LB Josh Massi, 5-9, 185; Sr. WR Andrew Fiore, 6-1, 175; Sr. WR/DB Trevor Cayea; Sr. K Nick Sodano; Jr. OT/DT Owen Boland, 6-4, 250; Sr. Scott Danvin, G/NG, 5-8, 260; Sr. TJ Fusco, TE/DE, 6-4, 235; Jr. Nick Rosaforte, F/S/RB 5-10, 175; Sr. Dominick Telesco, DE/OG, 6-1, 195; Sr. WR/DB Nick Dileo; Sr. OG/NG Scott Danvin; Sr. SS/WR Vinny Mazzamuto; Sr. OT/DT Jack Kane; Sr. RB/R Dylan Shields; Jr. C/NG Anthony Briante

Key Adds/Newcomers: Jr. TE/LB P.J. McGrory; Jr. CB/QB/WR Jake Storen; Sr. DT/TE Randy Aboagye; Jr: FS/RB Thomas Keating

Goals: With a battle-tested veteran unit returning to the fold, league and section titles are being discussed, in that order without looking too far ahead. To stay focused on our process and improve from week to week and the results will speak for themselves. Obviously, the expectations are high, but the goal is to be playing for a championship which is our goal every year.

Coach’s Comments: With all the hype around our team it will be extremely important to set egos aside and stay humble. We have a very difficult schedule and staying healthy is critical. We have some holes to fill and some of the younger players will need to step up to create depth. I think we will be balanced on the offensive side of the ball. Our staff will need to be creative, so everyone is getting touches and Dall is a dual threat at the QB position. Most of the OL returns but depth is the issue. On Defense, we will need to run the football and tackle. We are a multiple attacking front that will need to be disciplined in our run fits. I am excited to watch them play.

Outlook: Coach Cayea is as optimistic about the 2021 season as any other in his career, including the 1998 Section 1 Class AA title winners, the Rams’ lone sectional title under Cayea. Dall can spin it under center and Massi, a fortified stud who can run between tackles or take the pitch outside, is among the elite RB’s in the section. He has great hands, his run-after-contact skills are for real and the kid can block and tackle with the best in the section. Fiore provides a lanky target, who can also run jet. Cayea has as many weapons in this offense as he’s ever had, and all return with a ton of run under their belts. Drives that may stall will surely be bolstered by the leg of Sodano, who is pure from 40+. Surely, five-time defending sectional champion New Rochelle comes in as the favorites, but the Rams are not far behind the 14-time sectional champion Hugeuenots in terms of talent and know-how. While there are several other solid Class AA title contenders, Carmel is of that ilk and don’t say you weren’t warned when all is said and done. If there was ever a year when the stars aligned and New Ro’ could be picked off, 2021 could be that year.

Twitter/Social Media Acct.: @CarmelRams

FOX LANE

2020 Record: 2-4

COACH: Andrew Giuliano (first season, assistant since 2011)

Top Returning Players: Sr. FB/S Noah Bernero; Sr. WR/DB Logan Matson; Sr. OL/DL Will Hoyt; Sr. TE/LB Will Shepherd; Sr. QB Eric Miller; So. C/DL Brian Bailey
Key Newcomers: Sr. OL/DL Marc Berisha (injured last year); Jr. OL/LB Roan Guyder; Jr. RB/LB Max Guyder; Jr. FB/LB Charles Hoyt Goals: Win the first game on the road against Ketcham (Sept. 10), win their league and establish unity and culture within the program, according to Coach Giuliano.

Coach’s Comments: I am excited to get things going over here at Fox Lane. The kids are excited as well. I think we have a well-mixed schedule that should provide us with some great, competitive games. I also think a league title is something in our reach if we play our style of football and play clean football. Our motto has been worry about us and we say “put the ball down” meaning we play with no excuses and do not let hurdles get in our way. If we prepare with a mindset like that, then I know we can be successful this season, and far beyond for the players as they move through life beyond high school.

Outlook: With longtime coach Bill Broggy’s retirement, Andrew Giuliano takes over the Foxes’ program after being an assistant since 2011. A big piece coming back to the program is Noah Bernero (FB/S), who returns after a season at Stepinac. Bernero started as a sophomore for a Fox Lane squad that won six games. Giuliano called his return a “surprise” and he’s been “nothing but a player to work with.” Bernero is a ball hawk on defense and always in the right spot making plays, Giuliano said. Senior quarterback Eric Miller returns after getting a season under his belt in the spring and should progress nicely. Miller has some targets to throw to including senior Logan Matson, a three-sport athlete who Giuliano says “loves competition, embraces a challenge and is someone who can make big plays down field.” Senior Marc Berisha, a key linemen and wrestler who missed his junior season due to injury, is going to help tremendously according to Giuliano. With plenty of experience back and some talented new faces, the Foxes have the capability to make some noise in Class AA. “Overall, I feel we have a well-balanced team whereas there’s not one amazingly skilled guy, however it is the first year in a while where everybody can make a play,” Giuliano said. “I look forward to coaching these kids. I look forward to developing as a new head coach, and overall I am just excited to be back out there grinding it out with the team.”

Twitter/Social Media Acct.: @FoxLaneFB

White Plains RB Elijah Pierre.

WHITE PLAINS

2020 Record: 2-4

COACH: Mike Lindberg (6th season)

Top Returning Players: Sr. WR/RB/LB Eli Pierre; Sr. WR/S Daniel LaSalle; Sr. QB Jay Biondi; Sr. OL/DL Nick Pasqualini; Sr. RB/S Nicolas Spista

Goals: “In the spring our goal was to get through the season healthy with no COVID issues,” Lindberg said. “We were lucky we didn’t have to get quarantined or anything like that. The goal there was to just get as many games as possible. Now, we actually have, ‘Alright, let’s go, we need to win some games here (this season).’ We’ve got to compete for the league championship and we’ve got to make the playoffs. That normalcy of that there’s going to be a league champion, there’s going to be playoffs and there are going to be seedings. All of that stuff is huge and it’s just great for the kids. You’re actually playing for something. “We always start with a league championship as the main goal,” Lindberg added. “What we say is we want to go 1-0 on the week. That’s our initial goal to go 1-0 and then to eventually be playing for a league championship.”

Coach’s Comments: We were super young in the spring, which was tough then. But now, we return a ton. It was almost kind of like a college spring ball for us this past spring. There’s nothing like varsity game experience; just the speed of the game and stuff like that. So, for the juniors to get that opportunity was just huge for them and their development. There won’t be that deer in headlights in that first varsity moment because we already got that out of the way.

Outlook: Eli Pierre and Danny LaSalle should cause fits for opposing defenses at wide receiver with both standing over 6-foot-2 and weighing in around 200 pounds. On top of that, they’re both athletic and bring speed to the table. “I completely expect Eli and Danny to be two of the tougher receivers for people to guard,” said Lindberg, who noted that Pierre was nagged by a high ankle sprain last season after a breakout sophomore campaign. Quarterback Jay Biondi split snaps early in the season last year but took over as the full-time starter for the last few games and Lindberg is expecting big things. “He’s definitely much more comfortable in the offense and passing game,” the coach said. “It allowed him to take a real leadership role. The Tigers don’t have a true halfback so Lindberg expects that they will spread the wealth around with four or five different players getting four or five carries a game. And the team’s success may be dependent on the development of the junior class. “We have a lot of talented young kids,” Lindberg said. “I never want to say anything until they get that varsity experience. They can look great in practice but until the lights are on and the crowd’s full and there’s somebody in a different color jersey…That’ll be a huge part of how our season ends up going is the juniors’ ability to provide help for the seniors. The juniors’ ability to get some of those starting positions so kids aren’t going both ways will be huge for us as a team and as a program.” “I think the strength is team unity,” Lindberg added. “Most of these seniors have been playing together since fifth and sixth grade. They all know each other. They know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They know what to expect from each other so they hold each other accountable. I also think the other strength we have is that we’re very athletic. We’ve got some really good long and quick skill players that are going to be able to help us greatly.”

Twitter/Social Media Acct.: @wptigersfb

OSSINING

2020 Record: 4-1 (Independent Lg.)

COACH: Larry McRae (2nd season, 5-7)

Top Returning Players: Sr. OL/LB, Vincent Bernardo, 6-0, 220; Sr. RB/LB Terrell Frances, 5-10; Jr. QB/DB Nick Gallary, 5-10, 150; Sr. OL/DL Nick Cruz 6-3, 285; Jr. TE/DL Justin Santos, 6-3 195; Jr. WR/DB James Montague; Jr. WR/ DR Vincent Stella, 5-8; Jr. WR?DB Jeremy Medina, 5-7, 138

Key Adds/Newcomers: Jr. Dylan Amster; So. WR/DB Geo Jeanpierre, 5-9, 145
Goals: Continue to build the culture and return to the great tradition of Ossining football.
Coach’s Comments: We are making the jump from Independent back to Class AA. The program and culture is getting back to traditional Ossining football. Our numbers are steadily increasing. We are hoping to build on the success from last season.

Outlook: There was a time throughout the 1990’s to 2008 when Ossining was a perennial powerhouse, despite winning just two sectional titles (1997-2007), but those days are long gone due to the changing dynamics and the dwindling numbers. The 2019-20 seasons were about getting players interested in the program. Ossining had a JV team for the first time in approximately five years in 2019, and the modified program had over 40 players, so the Pride should begin to turn the tide in 2021. The schedule shows three very winnable games based on recent history, and Bernardo, now in his third varsity season, is a crutch to lean on.

Twitter/Social Media Acct.: @ohsPrideFB

CLASS A

League A-North is about as brutal a combination of teams as any we’ve seen in recent seasons. Geography-based leagues, during this COVID period, were not kind to the locals, who were bunched together, which makes for very few “gimmies”. Somers, John Jay CR, Yorktown, Lourdes and Mahopac are considered the heavyweight challengers, but Brewster, Lakeland, and Panas, in particular, are intriguing underdogs.
In the end, all roads have often led to Somers or Rye, the nine-time Section 1 and three-time NYS champs (since 1993), where legendary Coach Dino Garr and his 320 career wins will probably remain in place until taking over the state record (Howie Vogts, 364). Rye (6-0), which won the section in 2019 and was a regional bowl champ in the 2020-21 pandemic-affected season, should/could be a shoe-in for the top seed this fall, given the league breakdowns and strength of schedules in League A-South, unless Clarkstown South (5-1) can continue it recent ascent in Class A.

SOMERS

2020 Record: 6-0

COACH: Anthony DeMatteo Jr. (1st year)

Top Returning Players: Ethan Krauss, Sr., TE/LB, 6-1, 215; Trey Mancuso, Sr., WR/SS, 6-0, 180; Jake Polito, Jr., OL/DL, 6-3, 285; Sr. RB/LB Derek Marcus, 5-8 175; Sr. WR/DB, TJ Olifiers, 5-6 165
Key Newcomers/Adds: Sr. QB Matt Fitzsimmons, 6-5; Jr. RB Ravi Dass, 5-7; Sr. TE/DT Dylan Faller 6-4, 215; Jr. RB/LB Luke Kennedy 5-10 175; Sr. RB/DB Mikey DiFilippo, 5-8 165

Goals: Nothing short of a league and sectional title will suffice.

Coach’s Comments: We as a coaching staff are extremely excited for what we can accomplish this year. These kids have given us a tremendous preseason and we are ready for the long haul. Nothing is going to change in Somers about what our goals are.

Outlook: Like Class AA New Rochelle, there is no substitute for a Section 1 title at Somers, which has appeared in six of the last nine title tilts, winning four (including the 2020-21 regional title) under former Coach Tony DeMatteo. Somers has also appeared in nine of the last 10 sectional Final 4’s. The transition should be seamless, giving Anthony Jr.’s decade-long involvement with the program. There should be no issues given the fact that this ego-free, battle-tested coaching staff knows its role. Polito is a game-changer up front on both sides of the ball. Somers, the reigning Class A co-champs, won the regional title game last year with a game-manager under center. Strides will be taken there and the Tuskers will take off as they have in the past with Fitzsimmons under center. Rookie HB Dass is quick to the hole and one to keep eyes on.
The hard part will be replacing stud RB/LB Jack Kaiser, an All-NYS player while getting an inexperienced but highly capable quarterback up to speed.

“From the coaching staff all the way to our whole team we have that next man up mentality, a whole roster of committed individuals ready to go as one to go out and win football games,” said Polito. “It’d be hard for me to say that we can easily replace someone like Jack Kaiser, especially after the year he had last year and the influence he’s had the past few years. But I genuinely believe we are ready to go with a different look than everyone’s expecting. Somers football, this year, is different from past years, and I can’t wait to see how the year goes for us.”

Twitter/Social Media Acct.: @SomersFootball

Mahopac RB Joey Koch.

MAHOPAC

2020 Record: 4-2

COACH: Dominick DeMatteo (5th year at Mahopac)

Top Returning Players: Anthony DeMatteo, Sr., QB, 6-1, 185; Joey Koch, Jr., WR/RB/DB, 5-10, 170; Tyler Maewsky, Sr., OL/DL, 6-2, 215; Adam Montalvo, Sr., OL/DL, 6-3, 265; Craig Perri, Sr., OL/LB, 6-3, 190; Steven Perrone, Sr., RB/WR/DB, 5-8, 175; Colum Ranaghan, Sr., TE/LB, 6-4, 170; Ryan Reilly, Sr., OL/LB, 6-3, 240; Ryan Rondeau, Sr., WR/DB, 5-10, 160

Goals: With a battle-tested veteran unit returning to the fold, Mahopac should be able to match or improve upon its 2020 season, it’s first in Class A.

Coach’s Comments: After a slow start to the Spring 2021 season we were able to make some adjustments and win our final four games of the season. Our kids demonstrated tremendous grit and truly became a TEAM as the Fall 2021 season progressed. After a productive summer of strength and speed training, as well as attending 7v7s and the Hudson Valley Football Camp, we believe we are prepared for preseason. The key to our success this season will be to remain healthy and continue to develop all of our student-athletes while hopefully building our depth. If we are able to do those things we should be a playoff team.

Outlook: The Indians won four games last year, so the expectations, with a vast majority of the unit returning, is to improve upon that number and make a legit run to the Class A Final 4. Anything short of the semifinals will be a sub-par outcome, but reaching that goal will be extremely tough given the field of challengers. Rye, Somers, John Jay, Yorktown: Each have had significant showings on the playoff circuit, so cracking the upper crust will be difficult.

DeMatteo returns with All-Conference accolades after firing seven TD passes with 682 yards and a 59% completion rating. He has the potential to be one of the better QBs in the Lower Hudson Valley this season. Montalvo was an extremely consistent player on both sides of the ball this past spring, and at times was dominant on defense. He has the potential to be one of the better linemen in the region. Reilly is a Swiss army knife, having played TE, OT, OLB and ILB the past two years. DeMatteo calls him one of the most versatile players he’s ever coached. Rondeau has evolved into one of the most consistent skill players and one his best attributes is his ability to tackle in space. Perrone was a significant contributor at RB and DB last year. He is a dynamic offensive player who can run between the tackles and catch the ball in space. Koch impressed as a rook last year and was in the starting rotation at WR and was an every-down CB. DeMatteo believes he has the skillset and physical tools to be a difference-maker on both sides of the ball. Perri excelled at OLB and evolved into one of the Indians’ better pass rushers. The only bad news for the Indians is the loss of two-way banger Michael Harney, who suffered a season-ending injury during lacrosse this summer.

Twitter/Social Media Acct.: @Mahopac FB

YORKTOWN

2020 Record: 3-2 (3-1 in League)

COACH: Pantelis Ypsilantis (2nd year)

Top Returning Players: Sr. RB/WR/OLB Marco McKnight, 6-1, 180; Sr. LB/OG Vincent Cappelli, 5-11, 201; Sr. C/DL Konstadino Bowen, 6-1, 225; Sr. K/P Vicente Lyon, 6-2, 190; Jr. QB/DB Justin Meyreles, 5-8, 165; Sr. HB/SE/DB Jack Carlin, 5-10, 170; Vito DeBellis RB/DB, Giacomo Micciari RB/LB, Dion Brucaj OL/DL, Robert Cermele OL/DL

Key Newcomers/Adds: Sr. Jack Baker OT/DE, Justin Price SE/DB, Dillon Carter RB/DL

Goals: Whether it was former Section 1 title-winning coaches Ron Santavicca (1993-94-96), Dan Callahan (1998), Mike Rescigno (2017) or Ypsilantis, the five-time Section 1 champion Huskers are in it to win it every single year.

Coach’s Comments: We are very excited for this team and hope to work to be competitive in a very difficult league. We are a team full of hard-working, lunch pail-type players that work every day to become the best version of themselves. We have a nice group of returning players and a few newcomers who I think will help add depth and competition to the team.

Marco is a super athletic and long captain and hard worker. He showed some great flashes last year in a short season and appears ready to break out. Vin is the guy who every coach would want on their team. He is a great leader and an extremely hard worker who has gotten where he has by grinding in the weight room, studying his craft, watching film and doing anything he is asked. Dino was a force in the trenches last year who had a bunch of sacks and was a fearless and relentless blocker. Justin is looking to break out in his second year as a starter. He has experienced exponential growth and is a great leader as a junior captain. Justin has great speed and athleticism, but is also a very smart football player who has great instincts and Jack is one of the most intelligent players on the field and is an extension of the coaching staff.

Outlook: In a loaded league, Yorktown is certainly in the mix of challengers for supremacy. Meyreles is an electric presence who will only get better over time behind a stout O-line driven by Cappelli, Brucaj, Bowen and Cermele. Yorktown has oft-had a strong tight end within the mix and is hoping for one to emerge as a vital part of its attack. Many expect the Huskers to get off to a 2-0 start before a rough two-game stretch that includes Somers and John Jay, who battled for regional supremacy last spring. We’ll know more about the Huskers by then.

Twitter/Social Media Acct: @YtownHuskers

PANAS

2020 Record: 0-6

COACH: Bill Castro (2nd season)

Top Returning Players: So. QB/RB/DB Travis Carlucci, 5-10, 170; Sr. QB/RB/LB Nate Lugo 5-10, 180; Jr. RB/LB Paul Ronga; TJ Surace; So. TE/DE KC Bryan; Mike Zazzini, 6-2, 185; Sr. OL/DL John Baisley 6-1, 210, Sr. QB/DB John Guida, 5-8, 140

Key Adds/Newcomers: Penn State-bound Sr. OL/DL Maleek McNeil, 6-8, 340; Jr. LB/TE Matt Tosolini, 5-7, 170; Dom Parante, 5-7, 175; Jr. WR/LB Cooper Schmidt
Goals: Improve on last year’s season in fundamentals, knowledge of the playbook and overall effort. Compete to our very best for four quarters every game.

Coach’s Comments: We are excited to have a lot of key skill players back and looking forward to getting the ball in their hands. We had a very productive 13-week offseason where we saw a lot of our players get stronger, which leads to more confidence. We have a great group of young competitors that have been attacking each day of preparation with 100% of their effort.

Outlook: Obviously, with a newly-inserted Penn State-bound stud anchoring the O-line, things are looking up at Panas. McNeil, who is like that red-bowed Land Rover you find in your driveway Christmas morning, is the single biggest boost to any Section 1 program in quite some time. He’s bigger, stronger and quicker than any player/players he’ll line up against this season. He will protect Carlucci and or Lugo’s blindside and then some as the talented QB’s settles up under center. Carlucci, who returned a pair of electrifying kickoffs for TDs as a freshman last season, has game-breaking speed and untapped skill. Still, the Panthers were winless last season, so, while expectations are much higher in Castro’s second season, let’s temper them. The league is extremely tough and there will be a legit test that confronts Panas each week. If the Panthers can muster three wins on this regular-season schedule, after not winning a game last year, they will have done well. If they find their way to the playoffs, they will be the feel-good story of the season.

Coach Twitter/Social Acct.: @Coach_Castro

LAKELAND

2020 Record: 2-3

COACH: Mike Meadows (5th season)

Top Returning Players: Sr. QB/DB, Steven Dedvukaj, 5-11, 161; Sr. RB/LB Joey Malaspina, 5-6, 140; Sr. DL/OL, Kevin Hickey, 6-0, 240; Sr. WR/DB, Tyler Ronk, 6-0, 165; Sr. LB/OL, Connor Mcgannon, 5-9, 200; Sr. DB/WR, Ryan Gallagher, 5-7, 125; Jr. DE/TE, Andrew Mendel; Jr. OL/DL Ian Wikser, 5-10, 250

Key Newcomers: Jr. LB/TE Robert Nugent; Jr. WR/DB Jack Nugent; So. OL/DL Luca Sancimino; Sr. OL/DL Nikolin Bujaj; Jr. RB/LB Stepehn Carroll
Goals: Stay healthy! The Hornets have been unlucky the last few seasons with injuries. Continue to be a consistent and competitive program at both the JV and varsity levels.

Coaches Comments: We have already experienced many ups and downs this offseason. However, I really like the mixture of seniors and juniors we have on our team. We have guys with experience and guys with great talent. My coaching staff is all back and we know our team and program very well. It’s our job to set these guys up for success. I’m excited to see what we can accomplish this season against some extremely tough opponents. In my opinion, I feel like we are in the most challenging league in all of Section 1. Regardless, as a program, we are ready to leave it all out on the field and compete. As a program, we are ready for the challenge. Lastly, we need to believe and finish. We lost a few tough games last season. So my hope is we learned from them and we show we can get the job done.

Outlook: Lakeland nearly ended the year on a real high note before fading in the final quarter against Mahopac, which would have been a huge feather in the Hornets’ cap. That said, Mahopac is just one of many tough foes on the docket this year. The Hornets have not played up to the level of Somers, Yorktown, Lourdes or John Jay in recent seasons, yet they will see all four, plus Mahopac. Finding more than two triumphs — perhaps Brewster and Panas — will be a tall order in what figures to be a very difficult league.

Twitter/ social media account: @LakehornetsFB

BREWSTER

2020 Record: 2-4

COACH: Ed Mulvihill (10th season, 48-32)

Top Returning Players: Sr. QB Chris Donohue, 6-4, 230; Sr. LB/OL Dom Rienzi, 5-10, 220; Mike Triolo, OL/DL; Sr. RB/LB Will Martinez, 5-9, 180; Sr. WR/DB Nick Sayegh, 5-9, 185; Sr. LB/OL Chris Triolo; Sr. WR.DB Matt Dunn; Sr. OL/DL Ryan Costales, 6-0, 230 ; Sr. DE/RB Jack Golinello, 5-11, 193; Sr. WR/DB Josh Thomas, 5-9, 140

Key Adds/Newcomers: WR/DB Bryce Washington; Jr. WR/DB Luke Sanchez, 6-0, 165; Jr. WR/DB Alex Rienzi; Jr. DE/OL AJ Pieragostini; Jr. WR/DB Massimo Parello, 5-9, 155; Sr. WR/DB Evan Knorr, 5-9, 160; Jr. RB/DB Joe Anfuso; Jr. WR/LB Leo Thomas

Goals: Brewster’s goal is to improve each week with its sights on a playoff spot in a very tough Class A.
Coach’s Comments: With so many new faces it will take time for us to adjust and all get on the same page with our offensive and defensive schemes. Offensively, we have a very capable QB in Donohue and he will carry a lot of the burden for the offense. He has the ability to take over a game and defenses will need to respect his arm. Our receivers are working on becoming more familiar with the passing attack. I like our overall speed at receiver. Washington, Dunn and Knorr all have above average speed and run good routes. Nick Sayegh, Leo Thomas, Luke Sanchez, Alex Rienzi and Mas Parello have shown good hands and nice quickness inside. Our line will need time to gel. Center Mike Triolo and Dom Rienzi at tackle will return. Chris Triolo, Luca Saccomano, AJ Pieragostino, Diego Diaz, Gabe Morrelli and Ryan Costales will all be in the hunt for spots on the O-line. Will Martinez, Joe Anfuso and Antonio Medina will handle the running back position.
Defensively, we will be more athletic overall. Defensive backs look strong with Washington, Sanchez, Knorr and Josh Thomas at the cornerback position and Sayegh, Alex Rienzi, Parello, Anfuso and Medina at the safety spot. Linebackers are led by Dom Rienzi in the middle with Chris Triolo, Leo Thomas, Will Martinez, Dylan Pitura, Dom Bonamassa and Julius Walters working the outside. The line is anchored by Ryan Costales inside with Jordan Salmon, Logan Simon, Josh Consentino, Luke Pratley working the interior. Jack Golinello, AJ Pieragostino, Derek Karlson and Ian Hayes will work the defensive end position. What we lack in size we make up for in speed and athleticism. It may take us a few games to get our footing and figure out who we are and what we do best, but we will look to improve each week and be playing our best ball at the end of the season.

Outlook: In this particular league, the Bears won’t have a lot of time to figure out who and what they are. All hands on deck will need to get up to speed quicker than expected if Brewster is going to challenge the upper crust. Getting three wins in this league won’t be easy for anybody given the traditional challengers within. There was a time in Brewster’s history — somewhere between say 1995-2000 — when the Bears, under former Coach Brian Walsh (267 career wins at Brewster, Lourdes, Jay EF), were the upper crust and Brewster football was the envy of Section 1 while winning three sectional titles (1996-97-99) and falling one win short of a state title twice (1997-99), but those days are long gone. This year is about rebuilding and establishing a base for the future.

Twitter/Social Media Acct: @thebrewsterbear

CLASS B

Byram Hills senior RB Michael Rocco will take on a much bigger role in 2021.

BYRAM HILLS

2020 Record: 6-0 (Section 1 Class B bowl champions)

COACH: Simon Berk (1st season)

Top Returning Players: Sr. RB/DB Michael Rocco; Jr. OL/DL George Gjelaj; Jr. OL/DL Zach Gluckman; Sr. QB/DB Jared Cohen; Sr. RB/DB Gavin Javorsky; Sr. TE/LB Ben Dreilinger; Sr. WR/LB Gino Secchiano; Sr. WR/DB Tyler Meltzer; Sr. OL/LB Joseph Brown; Sr. OL/LB John Anthony Loumbas Key Adds/Newcomers: So. G/LB Jack Quinn

Goals: “The goals are high,” Berk said. “Defending champs and we’d like to stay there. Anytime you have an undefeated season, certainly, there’s an element of a target on your back. There’s a rising crop of new and untested players. I think that they’re out there with a chip on their shoulder looking to prove that they belong.”

Coach’s Comments: I’m really excited to have some great offensive and defensive linemen and some talented backs behind them. I think we’re going to move the ball well on the ground and then we have good-skill people on the edge. Now we just need to make sure we can get them the ball. If we can distribute the ball to our athletes and have consistent line play, we’re going to be a very solid team.

Outlook: Former Bobcat coach Doug Carpenter is now an assistant coach at Somers and has been replaced by Simon Berk, who was previously at Hackley. Berk is no stranger to success, posting a 26-6 record, two league championships and two bowl titles in four seasons at Hackley. “I approach the game as a teacher,” Berk said. “I’m blessed to have really smart kids who want to do well. We structure our instruction in a way where the kids can learn what we’re trying to teach them and then kind of get out of the way and let them play fast and let them be athletes in space.” The Bobcats graduated a standout senior class, led by bruising halfback/linebacker Matt Weiler and quarterback Hayden Fruhling, so there definitely are some holes to be filled. “I think they’ve done great,” Berk said. “I was hired in June and we were able to have the summer to get workouts in so we had some formal and informal workouts. They’ve done everything I’ve asked of them: morning lifts and extra training sessions. Now, with the real August camp going full tilt, I think they’re really excited. I think the timing with a new coach with kids who have a new opportunity is a nice partnership.” Byram opens up when it hosts Ardsley on Sept. 11 at 1:30 p.m. The Bobcats have a history with the Panthers as they fell to them in the 2019 Section 1 final but got some revenge with a win last season.
“Ardsley is always a good team and always very well-coached,” Berk said. “It’s certainly a good litmus test for kind of where we’re at and how far along we are in the path toward our goals.”

Twitter/Social Media Acct.: @ByramFootball

PLEASANTVILLE

2020 Record: 3-3

COACH: Tony Becerra (18th season)

Top Returning Players: Sr. RB/DB Kieran Cotter; Sr. OL/DL Michael Gordon; Sr. QB/DB Michael LaCapria; Sr. TE/LB Ryan Miller; So. WR/DB Aidan Picart; So. RB/DB Daniel Picart; Sr. WR/DB Dominic Matica; Sr. OL/LB Jacob Carozza; Sr. WR/DB Quinn Egan; Sr. FB/LB Carl Herzner; Sr. OL/DL John McCarthy; Sr. WR/DB A.J. Moore; Sr. OL/DL Brian Scopino

Key Adds/Newcomers: Jr. RB/DB Eric Coleman; Jr. TE/LB Thomas Cahill; Jr. FB/LB Ryan Raefski; Sr. WR/DB Nick Paternostro; So. RB/LB Ryan Horigan; Jr. FB/LB Owen Mooney; Jr. OL/DL Joseph Reich; Jr. OL/DL Ethan Taboh; Jr. OL/DL Bryson Williams; Sr. OL/DL Brian Straus; Jr. OL/DL Cooper Kittsley; Sr. WR/DB Aidan Finnegan

Goals: “Our No. 1 priority is always to stay healthy, not just because of COVID, but to remain injury-free,” Becerra said. “We’ve been bitten by the injury bug over the last few years, and because of the constant specter of injury/COVID. We need to develop some depth.”

Coach’s Comments: Our numbers are healthy with 41 on the varsity roster, but that remains to be seen if that will be a strength. If we can develop some depth at key positions then that will certainly help.

Outlook: Last season started smoothly with wins in their first two games but the Panthers dropped three straight after that. With a slew of skill players returning along with quarterback Michael LaCapria, the Panthers have the tools necessary to be a contender. It might come down to the play of the men in the trenches. Remember, Pleasantville is only four years removed from a state championship. Becerra and the Panthers know how to win and they plan to return to their winning ways in 2021.

Twitter/Social Media Acct.: @Pville_football

Briarcliff/Hamilton

2020 Record: 4-0 (Independent League champions)

COACH: Skip Stevens (5th season, former longtime White Plains coach)

Top Returning Players: Sr. HB/DB Brandon Rispoli; Sr. WR/DB Jaylen Savage

Goals: After a hiatus in the Independent League (and championship last season), the Bears are back in Class B. A .500 season would be a positive start for Briarcliff after rejoining the big boys in B. A win over rival Pleasantville (Sept. 25 on the road) I’m sure is a goal for the Bears as well.

Outlook: Lacrosse/football stud Brandon Rispoli will see plenty of carries after lighting up scoreboards in the Independent League last season. Jaylen Savage is a threat at wide receiver but do the Bears have enough firepower outside of those two to be competitive in an always grueling Class B? Time will tell.

Westlake’s Anthony Arrichiello is expected to take over at QB for the 2021 Wildcats.

WESTLAKE

2020 Record: 3-2 (lost in Section 1 bowl championship game to Byram Hills)

COACH: John Castellano (7th season, former coach at Nyack and Poughkeepsie)

Top Returning Players: Sr. QB/LB Anthony Arrichiello; Sr. OL/DL/K Josh Gelman

Goals: It could be a rebuilding season for the Wildcats after graduating a stacked senior class that saw the majority of the snaps last season.

Outlook: With the graduation of a big senior group including standout quarterback Matt Sardo, who led the Wildcats to a berth in the Section 1 championship bowl game last spring, Westlake will be in search of some new playmakers in 2021. How quickly their inexperienced players develop will dictate how many wins Westlake can muster. Despite the inexperience, you know this team will be disciplined, tough defensively and fundamentally sound with Castellano running the show.

Twitter/Social Media Acct.: @WestlakeVFB

HEN HUD

2020 Record: 4-1

COACH: John Catano

Top Returning Players: Sr. QB Chris McGuire, 5-11, 180; Sr. WR Rocco Capicotti; Sr. LB Cole Pritchard, Sr. OL/DL Ben Anderson, 6-4; Sr. OL Kevin Whalen, 6-4; Sr. LB/TE Nick Bartolomeo, 6-0, 180; Jr. RB/DB Dan Martinez; Jr. OL/DL Connor Harbolic, 225

Key Newcomers/Adds: C Brandon Sumpter; G Mason Dietz; DB Ryan Clark

Goals: Challenge for league title and be in position to battle for what is believed to be a wide-open Class B crown.

Outlook: The Sailors lost a ton of talent to graduation and the schedule is stacked with the likes of traditional powers Pleasantville, reigning champ Byram Hills, Ardsley and Westlake over four of the first five weeks. Luckily, the Sailors will be on home turf for three of the four, but that’s still a daunting task. That said, the league title is there for the taking with P’Ville, Put Valley, Ardsley and Briarcliff in the mix.

Twitter/Social Media Acct: @HenHudAthletics

PUTNAM VALLEY

2020 Record: 0-5

COACH: Ryan Elsasser

Top Returning Players: Sr. QB Anthony Esposito, 5-9, 190; Sr. WR/DB Cole Durocher, 5-9, 160; Sr. T/DT Christopher Itri; Jr. G/LB Kyle Mello

Goals: The numbers in Putnam Valley Football are rising with a strong and talented incoming freshman class. With the increased athletes and caliber of players coming down the line the Tigers are looking to start a rebuild of the program. The focus will be on foundation and development this year.

Coach’s Comments: After a few attempts we have been able to successfully bring back a JV team to the program. This is huge in rebuilding the program. It has been a struggle the past few years with the incoming freshman being thrown onto a varsity team coming out of the youth program. The experience that they will get with a JV schedule has been something that we have not had in quite some time and something that is extremely important for these kids in this sport. Bringing a JV back to the program is extremely exciting for Putnam Valley.

I look forward to seeing what some of our returners will be able to do with a full pre-season this year. Anthony Esposito has been pushing himself in the offseason to get prepped for his senior season at QB. He is coming off of a solid lacrosse season and we hope that he carries that energy and physicality into the fall. Cole Durocher is another player that we continually see big plays from year after year. We will be working on getting him even more touches on the football this season. Christopher Itri will be a stronghold on the line for us. He is a strong force for us in the trenches that we expect a lot from this year. Kyle Mello had a very strong showing as a sophomore in the spring season. He may be seen at filling a few different holes this year on both sides of the ball. This year we have a lot of different talents mixed into a number of players. I look forward to seeing a lot of different kids out on the field making the big plays. As a smaller school in the section it is important for our players to come in with grit and energy this year.

Outlook: The program is in rebuild mode and victories will be tough to come by with Hen Hud, Ardsley, P’Ville and Briarcliff in the league, and the non-league slate also features traditional powers like Westlake, Nanuet and Bronxville. Finding three wins there won’t be easy.

Twitter/Social Media Acct: @CoachElsasser

CLASS C/D

Valhalla senior QB Michael Dawson is back under center after suffering a serious thumb injury on his throwing hand last season in the Vikings’ first game.

VALHALLA

2020 Record: 5-1

COACH: Art Troilo Jr. (2nd season, former longtime Harrison coach)

Top Returning Players: Sr. QB Michael Dawson; Sr. G/LB Jack Sullivan; Jr. WR/DB Basiacka Butcher
Goals: If the Vikings can develop some skill players for Michael Dawson to throw to, they could be a legitimate contender for a title in Class C with Bronxville moving to B.

Outlook: Dawson broke his thumb in the team’s first game last season against Bronxville and heroically returned later in the campaign as a lineman. He’ll be back under center this year but some of the Vikings’ top targets/playmakers like Mahari Davis Jr. and Rahsean Melvin have graduated. As a sophomore, Dawson was a 1,000-yard passer in the Vikings’ run to a section and regional championship in 2019. But the Vikings’ success will hinge on the development of the skill players around Dawson.

Twitter/Social Media Acct.: @ValhallaNYFB

CROTON-HARMON

2020 Record: 1-5 (Independent Lg.)

COACH: Ryan Callahan (2nd season, 1-5)

Top Returning Players: So. QB/LB Jacob Jones, 5-11, 172; Jr. OL/LB Gabe Camillieri, 6-0, 170; Sr. RB/NT Matt Stinga, 5-9; Sr. RB/DB Edwin Dowd, 5-11, 165; Sr. WR/DB Sean MacKay, 5-7, 125; So. TE/OLB Carter Schmidt, 6-1, 175; Sr. TE/WR/OLB John Sarcone; Sr. OL/DL Colin Kooney, 6-2; Sr. OL/LB Adam Ultawoski, 5-9, 205

Key Adds/Newcomers: Ben Reed – RB/LB; Dylan Ambos – OL/DL; Melvin Bolden – OL/DL
Goals: Back in Section 1 after several years in the Independent League, the Tigers’ goal is to be .500 and continue to make progress as a team and to be a top competitor in Section 1 as the program once was while winning three sectional titles between 2007-11 and placing second in the state twice under former Coach John Catano.

Comments: We are looking for accountability as well as toughness/grit from our players throughout camp. We feel this will translate well to the season and make us a more difficult team to play against. We have had a great couple days of practice and the players have responded well to new concepts and schemes.

Outlook: Dobbs Ferry will always be the favorites in this particular league, and Tuckahoe is never a slouch, but the Tigers should be able to battle the likes of Hastings and Rye Neck for third place. It’s been a few years since the Tigers seriously challenged for sectional supremacy and 2021 will be no different with as many underclassmen as they have playing key roles, including QB. 2021 will be about building a base and reestablishing its culture.

HALDANE

2020 Record: 2-4 (there were no playoffs in Class D in 2020), runner-up to Tuckahoe in 2019

COACH: Ryan McConville (8th season, 27-33)

Top Returning Players: Sr. WR/DB Ryan Irwin; Sr. OL/DL Will Etta; Jr. OL/LB Jake Mason; Sr. WR/DB Soren Holmbo; Sr. FS Giancarlo Carone; Sr. DB Soleil Gaines; So. RB/LB Evan Giachinta; So. OL/DL Dylan Rucker

Key Adds/Newcomers: So. QB Ryan Van Tassel; So. LB Eric Stubblefield; So. OL/DL Jack Hartman
Goals: Each season we want to compete with the best teams in our league and make a run at the sectional championship.

Coach’s Comments: We feel that this year’s group is a great combination of returning skill players on the outside and some tough physical linemen that will create a lot of points on offense. We have an open competition for a lot of positions, and guys have really stepped up to the plate to challenge and push one another. Defensively we feel that our secondary is going to be very strong and we want to make sure we play sound up front to stop the run and put teams in situations where they are forced to throw the ball. This year we have a great competitive schedule and look to improve week in and week out to get ready for the end-of-year matchup with Tuckahoe (for the Class D title).

Outlook: One has to wonder: At a time when so many small schools are struggling with numbers, how does Haldane continue to field a competitive product each and every year. There are Class B schools combining programs with other Class B’s and C’s, yet Haldane, a tiny Class D program along the western coast of Putnam County, has relatively no issues when it comes to numbers.

“It’s a big-time credit to our kids,” Coach McConville said. “They recruit each other and want to play with each other. I tell them all the time, football might not be your number one sport, and I’m cool with that, but come play, come compete with your friends. I also think outlet training methods are a big part. We want to help build athletes, so we train them to jump higher and run faster and improve their change of direction. Our coaches want to see Haldane Athletics win and compete in every sport, and (basketball) Coach (Joe) Virgadamo he’s pushing his kids to play football. He was an amazing three-sport athlete at Haldane, so he gets it.”

Twitter: @CoachMcConville
IG: HaldaneFootball

INDEPENDENT LEAGUE

PEEKSKILL

2020 Record: 2-4

COACH: Malcolm Wright (1st year)

Top Returning Players: Sr. OL/DL Elijah Williams, Sr. OL/DL Zamir Travis

Key Adds/Newcomers: So. QB/DE Amir Thames; So. HB/DB Isaiah Crawford; So. TE/DE Nasser Johnson
Goals: The goal of this year is to create a foundation of trust and family. Peekskill football has had a lot of coaching changes over the years. For this year we are looking to build a solid foundation for years to come and compete every single day practice or game.

Coach’s Comments: It is my first year as a head coach so the nerves and jitters are everywhere. I have been fortunate enough to learn under some great coaches in Section 1 (Dan DeMatteo and Jay Ciraco) who are still in my corner and helping me out every step of the way. I plan on being in Peekskill for a long time so this year I will have a major focus on building student and community relationships so everyone will know I am here to stay and we can begin to build something in Peekskill.

Outlook: Coach Wright is seeking to build a strong program at Peekskill. He is full of passion and energy and is looking to infect his team with the same mindset and attitude. “Every day we have to get better,” Wright said. “The motto “BE GREAT” is what is thrown around every day in the Peekskill football program and that will be the expectation for this team. They are looking forward to the progress of the Peekskill Red Devils this year, but they will be doing so in the shadows of an independent league until the program is ready to get back to Class A as soon as possible.

Twitter/Social Media Acct: @CoachMWright_

HORACE GREELEY

2020 Record: 1-4

COACH: Joe Kearns (4th season)

Top Returning Players: Jr. OL/DL Owen Schoonmaker; Sr. OL/DL Julian Coku; Sr. QB/CB Ryan Wohl; Sr. RB/LB Vinny Santelia

Key Adds/Newcomers: Jr. WR/SS C.J. Hessert; Sr. WR/CB Connor Melis

Goals: Trust the process!

Coach’s Comments: Naming individual players is something we all do but it is a team game. If we play like a team we will win. If we don’t, we will lose. This team understands what it means to ‘Trust the Process.’ Expectations are high.

Outlook: It’s been a while since Greeley has been competitive so dropping to the Independent League should help the Quakers regroup and steer the ship in the right direction. Greeley will lean on some experience on the offensive line with Schoonmaker and Coku along with a mobile quarterback in Wohl. The addition of athletic hoops player Connor Melis should help.

Twitter/Social Media Acct.: @greeleyfootball

CHSFL

STEPINAC

2020 Record: 2-2

COACH: Mike O’Donnell
Top Returning Players: Jr. RB/DB Dae’Shawn Allen; Sr. OL/DL Jordan Alvarez; Sr. OL/DL Jaylen Johnson; So. QB Will Currid

Key Adds/Newcomers: Sr. QB James McCauley

Goals: The goals for the Crusaders usually start with a CHSFL championship and nothing less.

Outlook: Numbers aren’t a problem for Stepinac with 80 players on the varsity, 50 on the JV and 50 on the freshman team. A big addition is the return of quarterback James McCauley, who left last season for Carrollton High School, posting an 8-3 record with the Georgia powerhouse. The Crusaders open the season against Donovan Catholic (N.J.) on Sept. 4.

Twitter/Social Media Acct.: @StepinacSports

KENNEDY CATHOLIC PREP

2020 Record: 2-4

COACH: Dominick Tassone (6th Season)

Top Returning Players: Sr. DE Bobby Piesco; 5’11, 220; Jr. RB Nick Duryea, 5’10, 195; Sr. OL/DL Evan Bernal 6’3 275; Jr. WR/OLB Anthony Castaldi, 5’10 185

Key Adds/Newcomers: Jr. WR/LB Nick Calandros; 5’9 185; Jr. WR Anthony Lazo, 5’8 175; Jr. QB Zach Suarez, 5’9 180

Goals: Kennedy would like to host a home playoff game this season and the ultimate goal is to win a CHSFL Championship.

Coaches Comments: We will be moving up a division this year to Class AA. In the spring we were able to get a sneak peak playing the likes of Kellenberg, Holy Trinity and St. John the Baptist and I think that has prepared us to have a strong season. With the losses of Clayton Proctor, Louis Cardillo and James Brown on offense, we will rely on our younger guys who are a year older now with even more experience under their belts. A healthy QB competition should pave the way for a competitive QB to take the reins. We begin this season in Tampa, Florida taking on 2A Zephyrhills Christian Academy (2020 8-3) who has a Power 5 WR and All-State QB. This will hopefully be a test for us and prepare the team physically for what we will see throughout the regular season. This year we had 50 players come out for football, which is the most we’ve had during my tenure. We are excited about the numbers and look forward to taking the next step in the best league in NYS, the NYCHSFL.

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