Balanced P’Ville Bounces Lakeland; Versatile Kearney Boosts Mahopac

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Carmel Cruises; Yorktown Remains Unbeaten; Westlake Survives Tuckahoe; Haldane Booming

By Ray Gallagher, Examiner Sports Editor @Directrays

And just like that we are at the halfway point of the 2023 Section 1 grid season, rain be damned. While the weather has been horrific this summer/fall, the brand of football we see continues to be stellar with four Class A teams cracking the NYS top 20, three doing so in Class B and Class C, two in Class D and one in AA.


Will Rudolph
Fox Lane junior wide receiver Will Rudolph can’t quite haul in this pass along the left sideline in Saturday’s home win, but he did finish the day with one TD reception and a pair of interceptions.

When a team loses the NYS Player of the Year under center, chances are that team takes a step back as it replaces one of the finest players in school history. But SOMERS, after losing Matt Fitzsimmons to graduation, has seen senior QB Mac Sullivan rise and shine as his replacement, leading the state-ranked (No.1) Tuskers to a 3-1 start; their lone blemish coming off a very suspect call #SketchyAsHell in a Week 0 loss to NJ power Ramapo.

Sullivan had a near perfect QB rating in Saturday’s 21-0 win over state-ranked (No.24) host Harrison, hitting on 13 of 15 passes for 182 yards while finishing three scoring drives with a rushing TD.

“Mac is a beast,” Somers senior OL/DL Ryan Cole said. “He always has been great, he was just stuck in a tough position behind Fitz. It is really awesome to see him out there balling out. He is a really versatile QB in the run and pass game. Our big boys up front put up a great fight and pushed hard against a really tough D-line.”

Somers sophomore RB Dean Palazzolo got loose for 143 yards and nine rushes, further fueling the notion that he is en route to a dazzling career #AllTimeGreat. James Balancia and Miguel Iglesias each picked off a pass for the Tuskers while Nick Conti (11 tackles) and Nick Newman (9) were making moves on defense.

Declan Connors
Declan Connors of Fox Lane carries the football up the middle for big yardage in Saturday afternoon’s 25-14 home win over the Rams of Clarkstown North.

State-ranked (No.18) MAHOPAC senior John Kearney’s 80-yard kick return was just what the doctor ordered after the WolfPac fell behind, 7-0, with just under 3:00 to play in the second. The speedy Kearney dashed to paydirt with 2:51 to play in the second to get Mahopac on the board, and the WolfPac looked to Kearney again for a 98-yard pick-six on the ensuing possession as the first half expired for a 14-7 lead en route to a 20-19 win over visiting Clarkstown South.

The victory was secured in the waning moments when Mahopac blossoming sophomore Nate Mascoll blocked the game-tying PAT, part of a huge day to the WolfPac special teams. Mahopac K Kyle Pinto, a true weapon, kicked back-to-back field goals, including a 35-yarder, for a 20-7 lead late in the third.

“Our special teams continued to excel today and make some big plays,” Mahopac Coach Dominick DeMatteo said. “We had two field goals, we blocked two PAT’s and took a return to the house. That’s big, all differences between winning and losing today. Our offense struggled to move the ball, something was missing, so for us to get the kind of play we did from special teams was huge, and I was extremely proud of our defense today because South does some things schematically to put you in stress and we really stepped up on defense after struggling some the last two weeks.

“We’re still young and I know I’ve been saying that for a couple of years,” the coach added. “Our sophomore and freshman classes are big but we have great core kids in our senior and junior classes. We have six sophomores on the varsity and still have 30 kids on the J.V. We’re excited about that but right now it’s a great mix of seniors, juniors and sophomores that have truly come together as a team and show tremendous resolve and resiliency.”

South tried to get tricky before the first half ended and Kearney was wise and made them pay.

“He’s dynamic,” DeMatteo said. “If he’s not a Con Ed Scholar finalist this week then I don’t know who is. He’s been playing great all year. We love what he brings to the table. I don’t think people realize just how intelligent he is.”

Yorktown QB Kaden Gonzalez
Yorktown QB Kaden Gonzalez breaks off one of several big gains, which led to a career-high four TD passes.

State-ranked (No.9) YORKTOWN improved to 5-0 with a 48-7 trouncing of host HORACE GREELEY, doing so behind four TD passes from Husker QB Kaden Gonzalez (8 of 14,           158 yards). The junior signal caller dialed up a pair of long TD strikes with WR Tommy Costello (2 grabs, 72 yards). Tyler Galante and Ryan Cane each snared another. Husker Dylan DelVecchio carried 11 times for 73 yards. Chris Constantine (4 rushes 30 yards, TD), Ryan Vogel (10 tackles, sack), Jack Ferone (5 tackles), Chad Bowen (5 tackles) and Matt Cicinelli (3 tackles, sack) all put up substantial numbers. The Quakers fell to 2-3.

FOX LANE improved to 2-2 after a 25-14 win over visiting Clarkstown North on Homecoming Day in Bedford. Fox Will Rudolph (2 INTs, 1 rec TD) was huge on both sides of the ball and Theo Friedman added a third INT on defense. Fox QB John Czernyk threw a TD pass while rumbling Ben Rotolo, Max Travis and Declan Connors each scored for the Foxes.

“Great win after a really crushing loss (7-0 to Brewster),” Fox Lane Coach Andrew Giuliano said. “Great win, great team win, great energy in the town and school community.

BREWSTER took a 21-0 loss on the chin at the hands of visiting Eastchester Saturday, the Bers falling to 2-2 overall.


CARMEL made short work of OSSINING in a 35-7 win over the visiting Pride (1-4) to improve to 3-1. Ram QB Christian Nunez hit on seven passes for 110 yards but did the bulk of his damage on the ground where he rushed seven times for 110 yards and three scores during a career day.

“Christian had an exceptional game,” Carmel AC Jim Donahoe said. “ His growth and development as both a quarterback and a leader has been great to see. His ability to manage the game and take what opposing defenses give him has been a big reason for our success.”

Carmel RB Tristan Werlau added seven carries for 47 yards and a score while RB Leo Venables had four carries for 42 yards and a score, plus eight tackles (3 TFL) on the other side of the ball.

Ram Ryan Aabel had six rushes for 78 yards and the defense was led by LB Matt Risley (10 tackles, 4 TFL). K Jared Navidad (5-5 PAT) showed why he is the best among the section.

Mamaroneck pretty much pushed WHITE PLAINS out of the playoff picture in a 35-14 win over the winless Tigers (0-4).


Pleasantville LB Louis Sdao
Pleasantville LB Louis Sdao deftly walks in his pick-six INT in Panthers’ 31-16 win over host Lakeland Saturday.

State-ranked (No.3) PLEASANTVILLE (4-0) came to LAKELAND (3-2) Saturday with its typical swagger, what with its consecutive appearances in the 2021-22 NYSPHSAA championships. And it took all but 13 seconds before Panther RB/WR Daniel Picart bounced the opening kick 90 yards to paydirt for a 6-0 lead the Panthers would not relinquish en route to a 31-16 triumph.

“Definitely the start we hoped for,” Picart said. “They were a talented team stopping us in the red zone a bunch of times, and I feel like that’s something we definitely need to work on… finishing our drives. We feel like we left some points off the board.”

Trailing 17-0 at the half, the Hornets showed some true bite in the fourth quarter, scoring unanswered TD passes by QB Grady Leonard (17 of 32 205 yards, 2 INT) to WR Sean Perry and WR Kyle Gallagher (7 grabs, 124 yards, INT on D), but ultimately allowed the Panthers to take a two-TD late late in the fourth for the final margin. Pleasantville junior RB/LB Louis Sdao scored a pair of TDs and owned both sides of the ball for the 11-time sectional champion Panthers, who, remarkably, have only had just three head coaches in over 70 years of competition #HolyStability.

“We were proud of the effort,” Lakeland Coach Ryan Shilling said. “We had too many mistakes, though, and have to control the controllables.”

Lakeland Sean Perry
Lakeland return man Sean Perry is hunted by Pleasantville’s Phillip Dundie (22) and Shane Horigan (74) in host Hornets’ 31-16 loss to Panthers Saturday.

BYRAM HILLS, the 2022 Class B runner-ups, have had a rough go so far, but the Bobcats (2-2) answered the bell in a 42-14 win over Irvington behind rushing TDs from Luke Weiler, Luke Weiss and Isaac Berfied 1TD, plus a pair of TD grabs from Tyler Marescot and another from Dario Amicucci. Byram QB Jon Accurso hit on 5 of 6 passes for 132 yards and three TDs.

Throw some respect on PUTNAM VALLEY after its 14-0 shutout of host BRIARCLIFF/HAMILTON Saturday when senior tailback Ricky Meister dashed for 177 yards on 12 carries, resulting in a pair of 50+-yard scores.

Meister’s efforts provided a win that pushed the Tigers to 3-1 on the season, one of their best starts in history, but the slate gets tougher from here on out.

“Ricky has continued to impress with the way he has been running the ball,” PV boss Ryan Elsasser said. “With this early jump, we were able to spread the ball around on the ground with Thomas Cunningham, Alex Gecaj, Caden Glenn, Philliph Oden, and Nick Grippo all rushing well. We were also able to open up the pass game and found a few good targets this week as well. Coach Alex DiCioccio has been doing a great job mixing up the offense this season. We are moving around the field pretty well but we still have a lot to work for next week at Pearl River.”

John Solari and Jack Gilhooley
Junior running back John Solari of Briarcliff/Hamilton tries to elude a tackle as Putnam Valley’s Jack Gilhooley closes in during Saturday’s game hosted by the Bears.

Cunningham (6 of 11 in the air for 46 yards), Nicholas Mazzola (2 sacks, forced fumble), Andre Tarrant (2 TFL), Alex Gecaj (2 sacks, 4 carries for 17 yards and a 2 pt conversion), AJ Altreche (1 sack), Caden Glenn (6 carries, 49 yards, 2 tackles, 1/2 sack), Phillip Oden (3 tackles. 1/2 sack, 14 yard reception), Joseph Esposito (fumble recovery) and Angelo Sirico (16-yard reception) were all key factors for the Tigers.

“We came out pretty strong at Briarcliff,” Coach E said. “We were battling some short-term injuries and needed some guys to step up in key roles this week. To their credit they did just that. We brought Andre Tarrant up from JV to fill in at middle linebacker next to Nick Mazzola, who had to step up last week in his role there also. Angelo Sirico and Philliph Oden each had great catches in crucial times to continue drives. All in all, I feel that the team as a whole rose to the occasion today.”


State-ranked (No.7) WESTLAKE escaped No.15 (Class D) Tuckahoe with a wild 35-34 win when Jake Zaino, who scored a 22-yard TD run earlier in the game, picked off a pass deep in the Wildcats’ zone to seal the deal with 1:00 left.

Wildcat QB Michael Pagan spotted Westlake (3-0) an early lead, rushing for 2 TD’s, and RB Chris Kalle scored the go-ahead 35 yard TD sprinting to paydirt from 35 yards out with 4:11 left and a 35-34 lead after K Anthony Nigrelli (5/5 on PAT for the game) nailed the PAT.

Putnam Valley senior RB Ricky Meister
Putnam Valley senior RB Ricky Meister spread the funk as he escapes for one of his two 50-plus-yard rushing TDs, part of his 177-yard, 12-carry effort.

“That was a crazy game back and forth the whole time,” Kalle said. “Offense played great when we needed to and the defense stepped up with a game-ending interception. We haven’t started 3-0 in years, so that’s exciting now that we have momentum rolling into the second half of the season.”

Westlake RB Stephen DiNapoli had an electric 58-yard TD jaunt for a 28-14 lead with 6:17 left in the third. CJ Prosperino picked off a pass for the second straight game and Brayden Lingeza had a huge pass breakup as Tuckahoe went for the lead at 35-34.

“It was a great team win today against a very good Tuckahoe team,” Assistant Coach Mike Castellano said.

State-ranked (No.15) VALHALLA showed why they are ranked where they are and will continue to climb the state rankings after Sunday’s 27-26 win over No.12 Dobbs Ferry. The Vikings (3-1) put themselves on the straight and narrow toward a potential No.2 seed in the Class C playoffs. Viking RB Rob Foisset, a markedly great Viking, scored his 20th varsity career TD and the Vikings defense clipped the Eagles on a potential game-winning two-point conversion in the fourth quarter to seal the deal.


HALDANE fell behind 13-0 before QB Ryan Van Tassel had a hand in the next four scores in the state-ranked (No.13) Blue Devils’ 35-27 win over host Bronxville. The signal caller fired three TD passes to Bordy Corless (from 9 yards), Jesse Tippett (10 yards) and Michael Murray (7 yards). Van Tassel (16 rushes, 90 yards) also rushed for another score from 20 yards to spot the undefeated Blue Devils (4-0) a 28-13 lead. RB Evan Giachinta (24 rushes, 192 yards), who moved the chains all day, iced the cake, breaking the plane from 35 yards out.

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