Mahopac, Carmel, Byram, Valhalla, Lakeland, Westlake Among Big Winners
By Ray Gallagher
Examiner Sports Editor @Directrays
& Rob DiAntonio @RJD_Photos
Week 4 was blowouts galore! Among the Examiner-area teams, there were seven local games where teams won or lost by 22 points or more, and those on the receiving end of these beatdowns will be licking their wounds in practice this week while the victors relish the spoils and push on toward a pivotal Week 5 where kings will be crowned league champs and the subsequent top seeds will advance into a makeshift Week 6 sectional playoff scenario on account of COVID-19 wreaking its havoc on this abnormal football campaign.
Not to put the cart before the horse, but should Class A Somers and John Jay CR each take care of business in Week 5, we would be looking at a whale of Week 6 regional playoff game between Coach Tony DeMatteo’s undefeated Tuskers and Coach Jimmy Clark’s unbeaten Wolves, who look like a complete and balanced club. In a normal year, both programs would find themselves ranked highly by state pollsters, and sectional expectations would be through the roof; much like they would be at Class B Byram Hills and Class C Valhalla.
Here’s a look back at Week 4 and a look ahead toward a pivotal Week 5.
BYRAM HILLS 34, PLEASANTVILLE 7
With the game deadlocked at 7-7 at halftime, Byram Hills scored 27 unanswered points in the second half en route to a 34-7 blowout win over visiting Pleasantville last Saturday.
“I did a terrible job in the first half,” Byram Hills coach Doug Carpenter said. “I was all over the place with play calls and was not putting our kids in good situations. We have a really good group of senior leaders. When we spoke at halftime, I listened to them and I said, ‘Guys, what do you want?’ And they wanted a couple schemes and I said lets simple things down a little bit. Obviously, Matt (Weiler) was an animal, our offensive line made some great adjustments, Hayden (Fruhling) made some great decisions and our wide receivers stalked really well too. A huge part of it was their input and me listening which is awesome.”
The Bobcats, who improved to 4-0, scored twice in the third quarter in less than two minutes with both touchdowns being set up by their special teams. A high snap to Panthers punter Jack Collins forced him to scramble and he was tackled, setting up Byram at the Panthers’ 28-yard line. A few plays later, senior running back Matt Weiler punched it from a yard out. David Gold’s kick gave the Bobcats a 14-7 lead with 7:35 left in the third.
“That was the first domino and the domino effect took place after that,” Pleasantville coach Tony Becerra said.
On Pleasantville’s next possession, the Panthers were forced into a three-and-out. This time, Byram’s Ben Weinhoff broke through the line and blocked the punt. He recovered it and scooted into the end zone to extend the Bobcats’ lead to 21-7.
“Ben is a kid that came to us as a soccer player two years ago,” Carpenter said. “He has a really high athletic IQ. He jumped in and was a huge contributor right away. He actually played soccer in the fall. Ben had a couple plays that he wasn’t happy about in the first half and I said, ‘Dude, it’s a game. Keep playing and I know that you’re going to be in a position to make a play later in this game and it’s going to affect the outcome. Just keep playing.’ And he was able to just have the resolve and he totally let it go.”
Pleasantville had a chance to get back in it when Michael Balducci recovered a fumble at the Bobcats’ 28-yard line. But the Panthers, who were plagued by some injuries, were unable to capitalize.
“At that point of the game we weren’t at full strength and had some guys on the sideline,” Becerra said. “We couldn’t do what we wanted to do and sort of became one dimensional. The fact that we were forced to be one dimensional allowed them to tee off on us. (Quarterback) Mike (LaCapria) did not have a lot of time to do much of anything. The poor kid was running for his life.”
In the fourth quarter, Byram quarterback Hayden Fruhling scored on an 8-yard touchdown rush to make it 27-7. The theme of special teams playing a big role in the game continued as the Panthers muffed the ensuing kickoff and Alex Hansburg recovered, setting up the Bobcats with another short field at Pleasantville’s 28. Weiler added his second touchdown a few minutes later to close out the scoring.
Fruhling gave the Bobcats a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter when he scored on a 10-yard run.
Pleasantville’s lone touchdown came when Daniel Picart picked off a Fruhling pass then threw a 32-yard halfback pass to Brennan McDermott to tie the game up midway through the second quarter.
Byram’s defense consistently put pressure on Panthers QB Michael LaCapria, forcing him to run as the Panthers’ receivers were often covered, leaving him nowhere to throw the ball.
“The wind has been so crazy this entire spring that we haven’t really had games where we’ve been in situations where we truly had to defend the pass with the quarterbacks we’ve seen,” Carpenter said. “We knew that he could sling it and our defensive front did a really job of getting in their pass rush lanes in the second half to apply a little bit more pressure. [LaCapria] did a really good job of stepping up in the pocket and making us pay with some yards in the first half. I wish he was a senior but we’ve got to defend him against next year.”
The unbeaten Bobcats return to action when they travel to Ardsley for a 3 p.m. game on Saturday, April 17. It’s a rematch of last season’s Class B section championship game.
“That’ll be a big one because they beat us twice last year and they beat us up pretty good in the section finals,” Carpenter said. “We’re excited for that one and we know Westlake will be waiting for us in the championship game. But we’ve got to take care of Ardsley first.”
Pleasantville (2-2) will look to rebound from a two-game slide when it hosts Westlake at 6 p.m. on the same day.
“We’ve got to be healthy,” Becerra said. “We have to obviously be healthy physically but we’ve got to be healthy mentally in how we react to situations like this. I’m not happy with how we reacted when things didn’t go our way.”
BYRAM HILLS 48, BURKE CATHOLIC 14
Fruhling threw for two touchdowns and ran for two scores in Byram’s 48-14 road win over host Burke Catholic last Monday. Ryan Abetamarco and Steven Franco each caught a touchdown pass from Fruhling. Weiler and Gavin Jacorsky each had a rushing TD while Weinhoff returned an interception for another score.
WESTLAKE 14, ARDSLEY 7
In a defensive slugfest, host Westlake ended Ardsley’s 21-game winning streak against Section 1 teams with a 14-7 victory last Tuesday afternoon. The Wildcats, who were coming off a pause, had limited practice time leading up to the game.
“I’ve been coaching a long time, and we’ve had success and I’m very excited about that, but this one today probably means more to me than any of them,” Westlake coach John Castellano said. “We came off of a 10-day COVID protocol. I couldn’t do anything with the kids, and I got them Friday morning. I Zoomed with them on Thursday night and said we were having two practices on Good Friday, two practices on Saturday, and one on Monday morning. We had a short period of time and [Ardsley] had 10 days. I’m proud that we were able to respond the way we did and this is probably one of my most satisfying wins.”
With the game tied in the fourth quarter, senior halfback Carter Falkenberg (9 carries, 82 yards) broke loose for a 55-yard run then fellow senior fullback Joe Piazza got the Wildcats inside Ardsley’s 10-yard line to set up the game-winning score. Senior quarterback Matt Sardo scored on a 1-yard touchdown and junior Josh Gelman kicked the PAT to give the Wildcats a 14-7 lead with 7:25 left on the clock.
“We’ve got a lot of great athletes on this team,” Castellano said.
Westlake’s defense came up with numerous crucial stops with Piazza, James Murray and the rest of the D coming through on Ardsley’s final possession.
“I said we were going to win this game on defense and that’s what we did,” Castellano said. “We rallied to the ball. That’s the beauty of having experienced kids. I knew going into the season, that the one place we’d be able to kind of shine a little bit is the fact that we had so many kids back on both sides of the ball.”
The Wildcats gained an early 7-0 lead when Andrew Llamas made a pair of big plays. He snagged an interception then shortly after jetted around the left edge for a 31-yard touchdown run just nine seconds into the second quarter.
Ardsley, which won the Section 1 Class B title last season, tied the game at 7-7 late in the third quarter. The Panthers had ended Westlake’s season in the playoffs in the previous two seasons.
“There were 16 seniors on this team that played in November 2019 when we lost in the sectional semifinal, and they walked off the field that day not thinking there’d be COVID, but that we would be able to play in September,” Castellano said. “Ten months from now, we’d get a shot at them. Well, it turned out to be 17 months now, but they knew in the back of their minds what their goal was.”
WESTLAKE 34, PUTNAM VALLEY 6
In Westlake’s second game in four days, Falkenberg ran for two touchdowns while Sardo, Llamas and Piazza each ran one in as the Wildcats cruised to a 34-6 win over visiting Putnam Valley (0-4) on Saturday.
Westlake, which moved to 2-1, will travel to Pleasantville for a 6 p.m. game on Saturday. PV will host Hen Hud Saturday (6 p.m.) on senior night in the Valley.
MAHOPAC 28, FOX LANE 6
When Mahopac High junior QB Anthony DeMatteo dropped this impressive stat line — 9-of-13 passing for 162 yards and two TD tosses to WR Andrew Cohen, plus another one-yard rushing TD — his father, Dominic, who happens to be his head coach, found it tough to hold back the rush of pride after his Indians posted a 28-6 victory over visiting Fox Lane last Wednesday on Senior Night in Mahopac.
“I’m not easy on him by any means, but this was big for Anthony,” Indian Coach Dominick DeMatteo said. “We were obviously very happy with the performance; mostly to know that we gave all our kids the chance at some normalcy and happiness. Getting the W always helps.”
The Indians (1-2) needed this win for many reasons. An 0-3 start was not in the hand originally dealt, so Mahopac had to find a way, and none of that was lost on Cohen, who electrified the crowd with a 62-yard TD catch with 9:25 left in the second quarter, followed by a juggling 36-yard snag with 2:48 left in the half for a 21-0 lead. Cohen finished the night with five catches for a career-high 121 yards, which took some of the pressure off Mahopac senior RB Vin Bastone (13 rushes, 75 yards), who followed Indian DB Joey Koch’s INT with an 18-yard pop to paydirt with just over a minute before the break.
“Anthony and Andrew have definitely been on the same page, and we’re hoping that continues,” Coach DeMatteo said.
For Cohen, it’s more about relationships and being “The Guy” his teammates can rely upon for everything on and off the field.
“This team has always felt like family to me and I’m glad we got the opportunity to catch a W with them,” Cohen said. “I’ve always seen myself as a different type of leader to the guys on the field. I try my best to always bring positive energy and hype to the team and get the boys rolling whether it’s at practice or in game. My teammates and coaches know they can count on me to not only make plays, but make each other laugh as well.”
There are times when Cohen straddles the line, but it’s all in good fun. He’s just a guy getting through a pandemic like the rest of us.
“I definitely can get out of hand on some days, but when it’s time to lock in, the team knows I’ll be a guy we can rally behind,” Cohen said. “I love these guys and I know the plays we made this game, as a team, was the spark to the fire we are gonna keep on burning until we are finished.”
It’s rationale like that that anyone can get behind. Mahopac will do so this week as they take on host Clarkstown North today (6 p.m.). The Indians will also host Brewster (1-3) Sunday (1:30 p.m.) to wrap up the five-week regular season.
The Foxes, who got a big game from WR Thomas Olsen, including a 67-yard grab, and a 69-yard TD catch by Logan Matson from QB Eric Miller (209 passing yards), were set to host Mamaroneck Friday (7 p.m.).
CARMEL 56, WHITE PLAINS 22
With the game teetering in the balance, Ram RB Josh Massi’s 40-yard burst to paydirt erased any doubts about the outcome with 4:23 left in the third, providing Carmel with a 21-point cushion, 35-14. Carmel QB Ryan Dall escaped pressure on the Rams’ next possession and found Nick DiLeo for a 45-yard TD strike and a 42-14 lead with 1:28 left in the first half.
Then, in the blink of an eye Carmel senior WR Ryan McDonald took the opening kick of the second half 80 yards to the house for a 49-14 advantage… game, set, match! McDonald would add a 22-yard TD catch from Dall, who hit 2-of-5 passes for two scores and 63 yards. The junior signal caller also rushed five times for 74 yards and a score. McDonald added an interception on D
“This one felt amazing,” said McDonald, a captain, “especially since this is the last time the seniors will play on our home field. It was one of the best games I’ve ever been part of.”
There’s still work to do, but the seniors will pass the torch to a talented group of juniors, including Massi, who made the most of his 10 totes by amassing 181 yards and four touchdowns.
“We have a long way to go to get to where we want to be, but this group is working at it every day,” Rams Coach Todd Cayea said.
Carmel was set to visit bordering John Jay EF Friday in what will surely be a physical challenge while White Plains (1-3) will host Yonkers Brave Friday (6 p.m.).
LAKELAND 42, PANAS 18
One can usually count on a close encounter between the two sister schools but this was over in a hurry when the visiting Hornets (2-2) jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead on the rebuilding Panthers (0-4). Panas caught a short-lived break and went into Lakeland territory before OLB Joe Malaspina intercepted a pass and set the Hornets up in Panas territory at the 11-yard line. Lakeland RB Adamo Labriola took an untouched 11-yard toss to paydirt for a 21-3 lead at the 7:40 mark of the second.
Lakeland took over near midfield after an exchange of downs and worked another short field for a short dart from Danny Libertti for a 28-3 lead at 2:37 before half.
Panas answered with its highlight of the night, an electrifying kick return from freshman Travis Carlucci with just under 3:00 left before the half to make it 28-10. It was the electrifying Carlucci’s second return to the house this season.
The third quarter was all Lakeland which put up a 10-yard TD run by Labriola (10 rushes, 109 yards, 2 TDs) to make it 35-10, which preceded a 36-yard TD catch by Rob Nardelli from QB Tyler Santucci to make it 42-10. Santucci finished by hitting on 13 of 18 passes for 181 yards and a pair of TD strikes.
Libretti’s 76-yard dash to paydirt set the tone early on, spotting the Hornets a 7-0 lead they would never relinquish. Libretti (3 TDs this season) was a menace on both sides of the ball, rushing seven times for 106 yards and two TDs on one side while leading the team with 14 tackles on defense. A six-yard TD catch by Mark Cummins made it 14-0. Cummins was solid all night, finishing with four grabs for 101 yards.
“We were definitely clicking on all cylinders,” Cummins said. “As a team we have all been focused on worrying about us, not about who lined up against us. We were still figuring out what type of team we are, but I think we found our identity.”
“Tyler was putting the ball where it needed to be for us receivers to make some plays,” Cummins added. “The line played amazing, creating monster holes for our backs who ran all over Panas. Going into Pelham, we are the most confident we have been all season.”
Panas’ second score was a long TD toss by back-up QB John Baisley to WR Marco Cosentino. Baisley came on to replace starter Ader Desouza, who was lost for the season with a broken ankle.
Lakeland Coach Mike Meadows was pleased to see his club take care of business and get back to .500.
“It felt good to get back on track, for sure,” Meadows said. “The loss to Yorktown was a tough one and nothing went right for us against John Jay, but I really like my team this year.”
Lakeland will host Pelham Saturday (7 p.m.) while Panas visits Yorktown at the same time.
LOURDES 35, BREWSTER 7
Lourdes QB Brandon Jorgensen returned for his first game of the season and torched the host Bears for five touchdown passes. Brewster RB Christian Rhodes scored his fifth TD of the season for Brewster (1-3), which has struggled since a season-opening win a month ago. Brewster will visit Mahopac Sunday (1:30 p.m.), looking to get off the skids.
KINGSTON 43, PEEKSKILL 34
After its game with Ossining was postponed, the Red Devils (2-2) showed up at Dietz Stadium in Kingston and balled out, despite the losing effort. The rebuild has been impressive and Peekskill RB Jayson Tinsley continued to impress when he rushed for three touchdowns and caught two TD passes from QB Elijah Ritter. Tinsley’s five TDs put him in rarified air in Peekskill history and granted him seven touchdowns and 477 total yards in the last two games.
“Jayson Tinsley is a unique talent and certainly one of the most talented players in this entire league,” Peekskill Coach Tom Itri said. “He responds well to coaching, works hard every day and is a great teammate. It has been our job as coaches to make sure we put him in the best position to be successful, and so far it has worked out perfectly.”
As has Peekskill’s plan to rebuild what was once a struggling program. Torpy Field was refurbished. Peekskill A.D. Austin Goldberg made a tough decision to opt out of league play and went independent in an effort to restore confidence.
“In order to rebuild successfully, Peekskill needed to first compete with other schools that are also in the process of rebuilding, creating a much more competitive schedule,” Coach Itri said. “Playing in the large school independent league has provided us the chance to be competitive in every game, which has led to more players willing to join the program. As numbers increase in the program, the rebuilding process will continue to improve. Having Torpy Field completely remodeled — turf and lights — has also enticed players to join the program.”
The administration currently in place at Peekskill is backing their guy Itri and his staff. The players are having fun, which matters more than anything.
“The future of the Peekskill football program is very bright and expectations are continuing to increase each day,” Itri said. “There is a new level of energy and success on the field is further assisting in the continuing growth of the program. School administration and the coaching staff share a vision for the program that is focused on the success of our student athletes.”
Well done, Peekskill, well done!
Peekskill will travel to Mount Vernon Saturday (1:30 p.m.) with the winner advancing to the finals of the independent league playoff in Week 6.
VALHALLA 28, HALDANE 0
Freshman Lorenzo Robinson had two rushing touchdowns and two picks in Valhalla’s 28-0 shutout win over host Haldane on Saturday. Robinson’s first touchdown was a 95-yard jaunt to get the team out to a 7-0 lead. The Vikings, who improved to 3-1, also received touchdown runs from Mahari Davis and Daniel Tammaro. Tammaro also added a pick.
Valhalla (3-1) looks to win its fourth straight game when it travels to Woodlands for a 1:30 p.m. game on Saturday. The Blue Devils (1-3) will visit Rye Neck Saturday.
BRIARCLIFF/HAMILTON 26, HASTINGS 8
Brandon Rispoli rushed for 101 yards and three touchdowns in Briarcliff/Hamilton’s 26-8 win over visiting Hastings on Saturday. Quarterback Marc Milano was 7 of 14 on pass attempts for 120 yards including a 76-yard touchdown strike to Jaylen Savage. Savage added two interceptions. Taylor Primack and Myzel Davis led the charge on defense with four sacks apiece.
The Bears (2-0), who were coming off a pause, will return to action when they travel to Irvington for a 1:30 p.m. contest on Saturday, April 17.