News Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.
Pleasantville Rolls PV, Will Meet Lakeland in Semis; Westlake Secures Top Seed in Class C
By Ray Gallagher, Examiner Sports Editor @Directrays
After 34 years around the Section 1 circuit, old-timers like myself remember the days when Carmel vs. New Rochelle was played out on a championship stage or a Final 4 venue, but last Friday’s quarterfinal showdown between the No.1-B Rams and No.4-A Huguenots was not the vintage version of Class AA’s long standing rivalry.
Tied 6-6 at the half, and cream barely rising to the top for either club, the state-ranked (No.18) Rams (7-1) dialed up their defensive intensity on the opening drive of the second half, resulting in DB Damien Santiago’s interception, which the Rams turned in to seven points when RB Ryan Aabel made an Odell Beckham-type one-handed snag in the end zone, and the section’s top kicker, Jared Navidad, added his seventh point of the night on the ensuing PAT.
Carmel QB Christian Nunez found his touch in the second half, finishing with 9 of 14 for 87 passing yards and two touchdowns, to Aabel (6 for 61) and Santiago (2 for 12).
Tristan Werlau led the Rams on the ground with 22 carries for 90 yards. Leo Venables added four carries for 20 yards and made five sticks on defense where OL-DL Liam Forster (7 tackles, 5 TFL) and Matt Risley (5 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 PBU, 1 FF) also excelled.
“Just gotta keep coaching ‘em up and see where this goes,” Carmel Assistant Coach Jim Donahoe said. “We struggled to get in sync in the first half. New Rochelle had a good game plan and was causing us some issues. At halftime, we made a couple of adjustments to address what they were doing. More importantly, we had a frank discussion about passion and courage and we challenged the boys to honor the mission statement of Carmel football, which is playing the game with passion,energy and class every play, until the final whistle. The coaching staff was very impressed with how the team responded in the second half.”
The Rams will host Suffern Friday (7pm) in the semifinals. The winners will advance to the finals at Arlington High School where the host Admirals will likely be lying in wait.
In other Examiner-area Class AA action, No.4-B OSSINING was eliminated by state-ranked (No.9) Arlington, the No.1-A seed by a 52-14 count, thus ending what was a good building-block season for the Pride (4-5).
No.1-N SOMERS and No.2-N YORKTOWN took care of business and remained on a collision course for the Class A crown should the two rivals do so again in Friday’s semis. Coach Anthony DeMatteo’s state-ranked (No.1) Tuskers (8-1) sent No.4-S Pelham packing in a decisive 38-0 shellacking and will host No.2-S Eastchester while Coach Pantelis Ypsilantis’ state-ranked (No.6) Huskers routed No.3-S Clarkstown South, 41-14, and will visit No.1 Harrison, ranked No.19 in NYS.
Somers QB Mac Sullivan continued what has been an All-NYS-campaign-in-waiting. The senior signal caller hit on 9 of 10 passes for 98 yards and a pair of TD strikes to silky sophomore RB Dean Palazzolo (6 grabs, 71 yards). Meanwhile, Somers junior RB Mason Kelly was shredding on the ground, going for 72 yards and three TD’s on just six totes. Luke Cukaj drilled 5 of 5 PATs and hit a field goal from distance (36 yards). Nate Mitchell added 62 yards on seven carries.
Yorktown saw senior WR Tommy Costello go off for 150 yards on seven grabs, including one of four TD zips from QB Kaden Gonzalez (14 of 24, 253 yards, 4 TD passes), who was on fire all night.
“It was a really good team win and great preparation throughout the week,” Gonzo said. “We just have to stay consistent to give ourselves a shot.”
Andrew Weissman’s 31-yard TD reception on 4th-and-6 put the Huskers ahead 20-0. He had three grabs for 79 yards.
Ryan Cane nabbed an INT for the second week in a row and returned it inside the 10-yard line to set up a Cornhusker score while Conor Duncan added a seven-yard TD catch on one side of the ball and had eight sticks and a sack on defense.
MAHOPAC was handled in Friday night’s rematch with Harrison, and a lot more was at stake this time in the opening round of the Section 1 Class A playoffs. No.1-S-seeded Harrison (7-2) shut down the No.4-N Mahopac offense behind a strong defensive showing in an 18-0 shutout of the state-ranked (No.29) WolfPac, who will finish the season in this week’s consolation round against Clarkstown South Thursday.
Harrison gashed Mahopac’s defense, finishing with 29 carries for 193 yards and the three scores.
The trains keeps a rollin’ at PLEASANTVILLE where Coach Tony Becerra’s state-ranked (No.3) Panthers rolled PUTNAM VALLEY, 38-6, to advance to the sectional semis where they will face fifth-seeded LAKELAND, which crushed No.4 Pearl River, 34-21, behind the explosive combination of QB Grady Leonard (3 passing TDs, 1 rush TD) and WR Kyle Gallagher (8 catches, 100+ yds TD). The duo led the Hornets to their first playoff victory since the Mike Fraioli-led Hornets advanced in 2009.
Sean Perry and Jake Berlingo also reeled in a TD catch for the Hornets while Nick Alleva (2 INT, pick-6) led a stout defense.
“Grady has had an amazing career at Lakeland,” Hornet Coach Ryan Shilling said of the senior signal caller, who has thrown for 3,400 yards and 39 touchdowns over the past two seasons while rushing for six more touchdowns. “We put a lot on him. Probably more than any other quarterback in the section. We are so fortunate to have him as our quarterback. I wouldn’t want to go to Pleasantville this Friday night with any other quarterback in the section.
“Kyle Gallagher has had an amazing year,” the coach added of the two-way specialist, who has 43 receptions, 650 yards, eight receiving TD, 28 tackles, six interceptions, one pick-six and a punt return TD. “As a coaching staff, we expected a big season, but he has far exceeded anything we even imagined. He is one of the best players in the section and is one of, if not the best, all-around player that I have ever coached.”
The Leonard-to-Gallagher connection will need to be hitting on all cylinders against Pleasantville in order to keep up with the explosive Panthers, as stable and well coached as they come.
“Pleasantville has been dominant in Class B for a while now,” Shilling admitted. “We are excited for the opportunity to compete against such a great program. They were the better team in our first matchup and we are going to need to play our best game to compete with them. It has been a really fun season so far. We have a really tight senior class that loves to play together. Definitely going to be a challenge going up against one of the best players in state history in Daniel Picart.”
Pleasantville’s Shane Mueller recovered a Put Valley fumble to set up an Aidan Picart TD pass to his brother, Daniel Picart, deep down the sideline for a game-sealing 24-0 lead. It was Picart’s third TD of the game on a day when PV had no answers to solve the Picart puzzle. Daniel Picart’s final line: 10 touches, 203 yards, 4 TD’s and a 2-point conversion #Astounding. The Picart impact on the program, equally astounding.
“Daniel is truly a generational player,” Pleasantville Coach Tony Becerra said. “I never knew what that meant until he came around. He’s such a natural talent. I don’t think I’ve coached him up on how to do anything in particular; just stayed out of his way and let him do his thing. We love the dynamic between him and his brother, Aidan. Watching them is like watching two nine year olds playing in the backyard. Tough to talk about this now because we still have work to do yet, and I’m going to miss them both so much when this ride is over.”
QB Aidan Picart finished 7 of 11 for 147 yards and two TD passes. Louis Sdao (4 rushes for 26 yards) added a one-yard rushing score and Joe Sokich nailed a 35-yard field goal and was 3/3 on extra points.
Ryan Horigan (9 total tackles, 2 TFL, FF, 1 sack) had his way on the other side of the ball.
State-ranked (No.3) WESTLAKE blew through host Bronxville with a 21-8 win on what was a very happy birthday for Coach John Castellano. Wildcat WR Nick Castellano (no relation to coach) snagged a pair of TD passes from QB Micahel Pagan and added an INT, the third turnover forced by the Wildcats’ suffocating defense.
“Nick had a big day for us,” Coach Castellano exclaimed! “The opportunity to get him the ball in space presented itself and we took advantage of it. He runs extremely disciplined routes and has great hands. He is an added weapon to our offense. He also had a big interception and led the team in tackles on defense.”
Wildcat RB Chris Kalle rushed for a first-quarter score for a 6-0 lead, making good after a Brayden Lingeza INT.
Top-seeded Westlake (7-0) will open the playoffs against No.4 VALHALLA (3-4).
HALDANE (6-2) prepped for its annual battle with Tuckahoe behind a 37-20 win over Woodlands. The state-ranked (No.9) Blue Devils will see No.12 Tuckahoe on Nov. 10th (3 pm) at Arlington High. Merrick Williams rushed for 103 yards and a TD in the win while Evan Giachinta added another 83 yards and two scores.
Sourcing & Methodology Statement:
Ray has 33 years experience covering and photographing local sports in Westchester and Putnam counties, including everything from Little League/Travel Baseball to varsity high school prep sports and collegiate coverage. He has been a sports editor at Examiner Media since its inception in 2007.