By Ray Gallagher
Examiner Sports Editor @Directrays
& Rob DiAntonio @RJD_Photos
Amidst some COVID-related pauses, plus some issues across the river between Spring Valley and Clarkstown South, which inadvertently ensnared Mahopac in the crosshairs, Week 2 of Section 1’s truncated spring football season was set to wrap up last night. Four Examiner-area teams remained unbeaten, including a wildly-surprising Carmel club, Byram Hills, Somers and Pleasantville. Here’s a look back and a look ahead at Week 3.
CARMEL 34, ARLINGTON 7
Perhaps part of the reason that a junior-laden Carmel High club has come of age so quickly is the Rams’ high IQ on and off the field. Check out their Twitter bios and one will see many players in the 3+ GPA range, and those smarts were on display in Saturday’s 34-7 league thrashing of visiting Arlington (1-1).
Also on display was the definitive running style of Carmel junior RB Josh Massi.
In just the second start of his career, Massi rushed 17 times and trucked his way for 102 rushing yards, scored a pair of TDs and slung another off a halfback option to WR Andrew Fiore… good for 69 yards and a game-breaking play. Fiore (4 catches, 120 yards) was a playmaker, flat-out. Ram junior QB Kevin Dall (3 rushes, 35 yards) rushed for a pair of first-quarter touchdowns to set the tempo. He also connected on 8-of-19 passes for 92 yards and two picks (one off the hands of a receiver).
“Coach put that play in this week for a reason,” Massi said of the pivotal HB-option. “We knew it was going to be open and we executed it well. The line needed to stay on their blocks, and they did, so hats off to the line for making that explosive play happen.”
“We have really come together as a team these past few weeks,” added Massi, who also had an interception on defense. “Our offensive line puts their hands down and does the job. They make us running backs have it easy. We couldn’t have done it without them.”
The Rams (2-0) have exceeded Coach Todd Cayea’s expectations by flattening its first two foes by a combined 85-21 count.
The game plan was to counter Arlington’s size advantage by getting out on the perimeter, which the Rams worked effectively. Defensively, Carmel bottled up Admiral All-Section RB Rich Finn with a ball-hawking mindset that conjured up images of last season when the Rams lost to Class AA state champ New Rochelle in the section finals. Massi (11 tackles, sack, INT) was all over the place. Rosaforte (7 tackles), Joey Risley (6 tackles, 1 sack), Matt Demme (5 tackles, sack) and TJ Fusco (4 tackles, 3 for loss, sack) were prime factors in limiting Arlington’s offensive production.
Cayea was expecting a rebuilding year with only a handful of seniors having contributed last season as juniors. But a strong junior class has come of age and changed expectations after two solid games. Cayea reminded the Rams’ that it’s just two wins and not to allow their early success to get in their heads.
The Rams will host Suffern at 7 p.m. Thursday.
SOMERS 28, BREWSTER 0
Somers (2-0) Coach Tony DeMatteo and his staff had the visiting Bears (1-1) figured out, limiting Brewster to just 42 yards of total offense and two first downs on a blustery night that all but eliminated their strong passing attack. But when you examine the nuts and bolts of the game, Brewster hung in there, holding the Tuskers to 235 scrimmage yards while holding Tusker RB Jack Kaiser to 63 yards and a score on 19 carries primarily between the tackles.
However, off tackle was another story where Somers senior RB TJ Deagan had his way with seven carries for 80 yards and a 40-yard TD scoot. Somers QB “Action” Jackson Kossow added 31 rushing yards and a score off seven tries.
The Somers defense and special teams led the way. Danny Curran scooped up Jake Polito’s blocked punt for a touchdown. Dylan Faller was a menacing presence for the Tuskers, leading the team with six solo tackles (3 for loss) and a sack. TJ Olifiers added five solo sticks.
“Basically, I felt we were able to shut down such a powerful offense because our coaching staff was absolutely on the money with our game plan for the week,” Somers stud OL/DL Polito admitted. “Everything we were told that was gonna happen, happened, and we expected everything we got thrown. I feel our defense really came together. Coach D was talking a lot about sudden change and how not only does it make or break a team how you react to it, but you can use it to your advantage if you play together as one and everyone does their job.”
Somers is hoping Lourdes can come off its pause to host the Warriors Thursday (5:00 p.m.) while the Bears will hope to get off the mat at home Saturday against Clarkstown North.
YORKTOWN 21, LAKELAND 7
Yorktown sophomore QB Justin Meyreles had the finest performance of his young career, rushing 18 times for 115 yards and a pair of TDs. He also connected on 4-of-8 passed for 48 yards despite horrendous passing conditions Friday. A whipping wind had both clubs grinding on the ground and the trenches were won by the Huskers (1-1), who got a big night from junior RB/LB Marco McKnight, who rushed seven times for 51 yards and caught two passes for 28. Senior RB Evan Makar had 14 carries for 56 yards for the Huskers.
“I feel like my team came of age a little bit before our eyes,” first-year Husker Coach Pantelis Ypsilantis said. “They have dealt with a tremendous amount of adversity. Last week they proved they were fighters and this week they tasted the end zone. That was a big moment because they proved something to themselves. They just continue to grind in practice and listen to the coaches. They executed the game plan and were able to overcome an extremely talented Lakeland team. I couldn’t be happier right now.”
Defensively, McKnight was a thorn in Lakeland’s side, recording seven tackles to go with a 22-yard pick six, while junior DL Dino Bowen (8 tackles, 1 sack) and junior LB Vincent Cappelli (9 tackles, 1 sack) ransacked the Hornets.
“I need to give credit to my staff,” Ypsilantis said. “Jeff Cerar and Rob Cappelli have been lights out in terms of their preparation and play calling on the defensive side of the ball. My OC Brandon Trager and I were in lockstep the entire game in terms of what we wanted to accomplish. Just like my players, my staff grinds, and I appreciate all they do.”
The Huskers will need a complete game plan from all of the above this week when they visit reigning Class A champion Rye Saturday (6 p.m.).
“We still have a ton of things to fix, but I know my boys will be ready to rock and roll next week and get ready for a defending champion Rye team,” Ypsilantis said.
Lakeland (1-1) saw QB Tyler Santucci hit on 6-of-14 passes for 70 yards and one costly pick. Danny Libretti (7 rushes, 65 yards, 1 TD) led the Hornets ground game and defense (10 tackles) along with Michael Mulhern (11 tackles). Adamo Labriola added 11 rushes for 46 yards for the Hornets, who hope to right the ship Saturday (1:30 p.m.) on the road against a quality John Jay (2-0) club.
PLEASANTVILLE 13, PEARL RIVER 8
Pleasantville fell behind by one point in the fourth quarter but was able to respond with a game-winning 44-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Michael LaCapria to senior Brennan McDermott to propel the host Panthers to a 13-8 league win on Saturday afternoon.
“When we went down, nobody got on each other,” Panthers coach Tony Becerra said of the team staying composed after Pearl River took the lead. “We stayed positive. Usually, it’s easy to get negative when you get down in a close game like this. The kids were really resilient in that respect.”
It was actually McDermott who was beat on the coverage on Pearl River’s touchdown pass from Ryan O’Neill to Brendan O’Neill down the left sideline. A Panthers penalty gave the Pirates a second life after a botched extra point and they capitalized with a two-point conversion run to take an 8-7 lead with 7:23 left in the game. Minutes later, McDermott redeemed himself.
The pivotal drive started on the Panthers’ 33-yard line. LaCapria found McDermott for an 11-yard pass and then connected with him for the game winner. McDermott broke a tackle and jetted down the right sideline for the end zone with 3:38 to play. The Panthers came up short on the two-point conversion run.
“The guy was head up on me so I just had to get a step on him and I knew I had the end zone from there,” McDermott said. “Once I got the step on him I knew I just had to turn on the jets and go. It was all the blocking. My teammate further out from me came down and hit the guy that was covering me. If it wasn’t for his block I wouldn’t even have been there.”
“The key to responding (to Pearl River’s touchdown) was just first downs. We just need to keep the chains moving. When the chains move, momentum comes and that’s what we needed. Finishing in the red zone is the key to the game.”
Becerra wasn’t surprised by McDermott’s heroics.
“That’s what you expect from a senior captain,” the veteran coach said. “Coming out of halftime he said, ‘Coach, I’m not tired at all. Get me the ball whichever way you can.’ And I remembered that.”
Pearl River had one last chance but was unable to capitalize. Pleasantville’s Daniel Picart batted down a deep pass then Massimo Stinziani deflected a pass on fourth-and-10. On the Panthers’ ensuing possession, senior Matt May was able to churn out a first down and LaCapria took a knee twice for the win.
Pleasantville’s defense came through with an important stop before halftime with Kieran Cotter snagging an interception in the end zone to halt a lengthy Pirates drive as the scoreboard read 0-0 heading into the break.
“Defense is everything,” McDermott said. “We’ve spent twice the amount of time on defense than we do on offense every day at practice. If your opponent doesn’t score you can’t lose.”
The Panthers had some missed opportunities in the first half, fumbling inside the 10-yard line on one possession. But they were able to capitalize in the second half. May’s 1-yard plunge into the end zone and Ryan Miller’s PAT gave Pleasantville a 7-0 lead with 2:05 left in the third quarter.
LaCapria finished 11 of 15 on pass attempts for 139 yards and the one touchdown pass. May had 20 carries for 62 yards and a score. McDermott caught seven passes for 102 yards.
Michael Balducci (12 tackles), Jack Collins (11 tackles, 1 sack), Cotter (8 tackles), McDermott (7 tackles) and Stinziani (7 tackles) were leaders on defense for a Panthers’ team that has allowed just eight points in two games.
“Tremendous,” Becerra said of the team’s defensive effort. “I’m still amazed at how well our defensive coaches prepare our guys: Brian Maceyak, George Lamar and Pete Christie. They’re the guys that really set the tone for the defense and that was the difference in the end.”
The 2-0 Panthers will look to stay unbeaten when they host Hendrick Hudson (1-1) at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 3.
“With the shortened COVID season you can’t lose a game if you want to win it all,” McDermott said. “We just have to take it one game at a time and win every play.”
BYRAM HILLS 21, HEN HUD 0
Bruising Byram Hills senior running back Matt Weiler rushed for 150 yards and a touchdown in a 21-0 league win over Hendrick Hudson on Friday night.
Byram held just a 7-0 lead at halftime but Weiler’s 36-yard touchdown rumble and Hayden Fruhling’s pick six sealed the win in the fourth quarter.
Fruhling, the Bobcats’ senior quarterback, compiled 98 total yards of offense and a rushing touchdown.
Weiler recorded two sacks and Fruhling snagged two interceptions in the shutout. Eli Ratzan added two sacks. The Bobcats have allowed just seven points in their first two games. Ryan Travis led the Sailors with 38 yards rushing on seven carries.
Byram (2-0) will look to keep its winning ways going when it welcomes Pearl River for a 3:30 p.m. game on Thursday, April 1. Hen Hud (1-1) returns to action when it travels to Pleasantville on Saturday.
WHITE PLAINS 36, PORT CHESTER 8
White Plains bounced back from an opening week loss to Mamaroneck with a 36-8 blowout win over visiting Port Chester last Thursday.
“It was great for our kids to see the hard work pay off,” White Plains coach Mike Lindberg said. “We are very young with seven kids on offense and eight on defense playing in their first varsity game against Mamaroneck. So they were able to adjust to the speed of the game.”
The Tigers jumped out to a 30-0 halftime lead. Junior Elijah Pierre started the scoring for White Plains on a 15-yard touchdown on a jet sweep around the right edge. Senior Chris McGuire ran in the two-point conversion to give the Tigers an 8-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Just 19 seconds later, Pierre scored again when he returned a Port Chester fumble 30 yards for a touchdown. McGuire’s two-point conversion run made it 16-0 before you could blink.
“We had a major chip on our shoulder coming out from a loss the previous week,” Pierre said. “So we really emphasized playing to our speed. Our tempo making Port Chester tired early was key. We had a good week of practice and had to show that our team is not to be taken lightly. We knew deep down we could’ve beaten Mamaroneck. I personally think that we already had the confidence, we just needed to show it and execute to the best of our ability.”
A personal foul on Port Chester and big run from McGuire got the Tigers in business again late in the first half. Quarterback Spencer Englert hit Daniel LaSalle on a 19-yard slant over the middle for another Tigers touchdown. The two-point attempt came up short and White Plains led 22-0 with two minutes left in the half.
Dwayne Edwards picked off a Port Chester pass and returned it 54 yards all the way to the Rams’ 8-yard line. Quarterback Jay Biondi rolled out and found Nicolas Spista in the corner of the end zone for another touchdown. McGuire ran in the two-point conversion and the Tigers went into the half with a 30-0 lead.
Pierre added a 2-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter to close out the scoring for White Plains (1-1). It was Pierre’s third touchdown of the game.
The Tigers will look to make it two in a row when they travel to Scarsdale for a 1 p.m. game on Thursday.
“We’re just going to keep up our intensity and play faster than Scarsdale,” Pierre said of what it will take to defeat the Raiders. “We have our game plan and at practice we’re all flying around the field. At the end of the day our execution is going to be our key as per usual.”
JOHN JAY-EF 8, FOX LANE 7
Fox Lane gave a bounce-back effort following a blowout loss to Carmel in Week 1 by battling host John Jay-East Fishkill in an 8-7 setback on Friday night.
It was a defensive slugfest from start to finish with the Foxes gaining a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on Christian Horvath’s 10-yard touchdown run. The Patriots took the lead late in the third quarter after a touchdown run and two-point conversion.
The Foxes will look to get in the win column when they travel to Roy C. Ketcham for a 4:30 p.m. contest on Thursday.
EASTCHESTER 34, GREELEY 14
Michael Meringolo and Ry Wohl each rushed for a touchdown in Horace Greeley’s 34-14 loss to visiting Eastchester on Friday night. The Quakers (0-2) travel to Walter Panas at 7 p.m. on Saturday night for Week 3.
JOHN JAY 35, PANAS 0
The Panthers are clearly in rebuilding mode and have struggled in their offensive sets, failing to score from scrimmage in two games. Panas, which gave up more than 300 rushing yards to a pair of Wolves RBs, hopes to recover at home Saturday (7 p.m.) against winless Horace Greeley.
OSSINING 29, POUGHKEEPSIE 14
The host Pride saw RB Terrell Francis go for career-highs in carries (19) and yards (164), including a TD in the season opener. Caden Hallinan added seven carries for 44 yards and two scores, Hallinan snared two passes for 63 yards, including a 49-yard TD strike from QB Nickilas Gallery. Pride soccer star Mariano Marra booted a 24-yard field goal for Ossining, which is playing an independent schedule this season and looks to get the program back on track.
MOUNT VERNON 24, PEEKSKILL 8
The home-opener at Peekskill’s newly renovated Torpey Field did not go as hoped. The mood changed when Mount Vernon RB Jaylen Bennett stole the show with 233 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns, but the Red Devil program (1-1) is making ardent strides as an independent this season.
ARDSLEY 35, PUTNAM VALLEY 0
It hasn’t been a pretty start for the Tigers (0-2), who haven’t scored a point while surrendering 74. The Tigers hope to get on track when they visit a strong Nanuet program Saturday (1:30 p.m.).