Class AA Grid Notebook: Mahopac Blasts Carmel, 34-13, Takes Back Higgins Trophy

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When Mahopac played Carmel High last year, the Indians were banged up and wound up losing their rivalry game to the Rams. Fast forward a year later, and it was a much different story. Mahopac got off to a fast start on Saturday at Carmel and finished off the wounded Rams 34-13 to capture the Bryan Higgins memorial trophy.

Mahopac’s Danny Quigley and Indians partied like it was 1999 after thumping Carmel 34-13 last Saturday. Photo by Ray Gallagher

The win was especially sweet for Mahopac QB/RB Chris Rhue, who not only attended Carmel High School in his freshman year, but couldn’t play in the game last year, sidelined with an injury.

“My mindset coming in was just to basically earn the victory and thank God we came through,” he said. “Now we have the trophy back in Indian country.”

Rhue began the Indians’ offensive outburst with two touchdowns in the first quarter. On the first play of the game from scrimmage, he dodged the Carmel defense and dashed past the secondary for a 70 yard touchdown run, setting the tempo for the rest of the game.

Later in the quarter Rhue was at it again. On 3rd and 8 he once again penetrated the defensive line and rushed 35 yards to the house for another touchdown, giving Mahopac (4-3) a 14-0 lead. Rhue knew it was important to get ahead early, being on the road in an intense rivalry game.

“It was very important to get out in front early so we wouldn’t come out flat because we are away,” he said. “It was important we won this one; it means a lot to me, the coaches, and this team.”

On Carmel’s ensuing possession, quarterback John Guercio tried to throw up a pass, but it was batted down and picked off by senior captain Mike Simone, who ran it 65 yards to the end zone for a pick-6. The Rams were able to block the extra point, but Mahopac held a commanding 20-0 lead after just one quarter.

Simone had made a guarantee coming into the game, and came up with a plan for the big pick.

“I came off the edge and I saw he sat longer than he’d been sitting, so I saw him go back and he was going to the sidelines, so I just tried to get more to the right,” he said of his interception. “I got a tip, got a grab, and ran it back. It happened pretty fast.”

With 4:29 left in the second quarter, Mahopac added another score. From Carmel’s 17 yard line, Ethan Ryan hit Brian Gallagher in the end zone, giving the Indians a 27-0 lead entering the half.

The Indians added one more touchdown in the third, moving the ball to Carmel’s goal line. Ryan took it from there, fighting his way in for a one yard score, the Indians going up 34-0. Head Coach Tom Donahoe was pleased to see his team come out with tenacity and get the trophy back.

“They took it from our field last year and it’s always motivation to bring it back,” he said of the win. “They have a lot of injuries, as we did last year, and you really want to see a team at full strength. It’s a little tough when one team’s at full strength and the other isn’t.”

The Rams (3-4), losers of four-straight, were eventually able to put some points on the board late in the third quarter. Carmel marched to the Indians’ goal line setting up Anthony Bria for a one-yard touchdown carry. Then in the fourth, trailing 34-7, Guercio hooked up with Joe Gervasi for a 40 yard touchdown reception, although the point after attempt was blocked. Rams’ Head Coach Todd Cayea felt his team just lost its balance.

“We lost our composure,” he said. “We threw a couple plays up for grabs and made a couple of athletic plays but they controlled the game, from a physical standpoint, and that was the difference in the game.”

Neither team qualified for the playoffs but both will be in action this weekend. No.7 Mahopac will host No. 6 Clarkstown North. No.10 Carmel will host No.11 Suffern.

Class AA playoffs will start Saturday, October 27: No. 4 John Jay-EF at No. 1 New Rochelle, 1:30 p.m.; No. 3 Mamaroneck at No. 2 North Rockland. 1:30 p.m.



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