Direct Rays

Congrats to Class of 2022, Much Respect for Y’all

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By Ray Gallagher, Examiner Sports Editor @Directrays

We saw what you went through, Class of 2022. We saw what it did to you. We witnessed the hell COVID put you through during your sophomore and junior years; sitting alone in your bedroom for hours on end, crying because you couldn’t see your friends, your teachers, your grandparents, et al. Confined to your homes, with everything on hold, your siblings became your closest allies in many cases.

Carmel three-sport senior Kevin Dall and gridiron teammates will be proud to forever sport their NYS championship rings.

It was rough for all of us to watch you go through it, but it was worse for the Class of 2020 and 2021, who lost out on graduation and prom in many cases. Thanks to the hard work of school administrators, teachers, administrative assistants, school monitors, bus drivers and many more, we trudged through a 2021-22 high school sports year and managed to crown sectional and state champions in all sports. Thanks to our student athletes in the Northern Westchester/Putnam region for staying fit and sharp as we “got back to normal.”

When the bell rang, the Class of 2022 answered. We saw a dedicated senior class at Carmel High School – one of its best ever – provide the first NYSPHSAA Class AA football championship in school history behind the ideology of legendary Coach Todd Cayea. After being forced to play their 2021 fall grid season in the spring of 2022, Cayea’s Rams (11-0) were hell-bent on delivering one of the greatest runs in Section 1 history, outscoring their opponents 514-81 on the season, and 256-53 in the postseason.

The senior class of Somers High was also ready and willing to answer the bell. These Tuskers showed tremendous balance throughout the year, delivering the school’s second NYSPHSAA soccer title (2016) behind NYS Gatorade Player of the Year Daniel D’Ippolito and senior sidekick Bennett Leitner; their 22-1 season among the finest in Section 1 history.

First-year Coach Anthony DeMatteo’s Tuskers were up to the task on the gridiron as well, falling one win short of Somers’ second NYSPHSAA title since 2016. The Section 1 Football Coaches Association deservedly named Somers senior Trey Mancuso its Player of the Year.

Somers followed that up with Class A sectional titles in baseball and track and field. So, #BravoSeniors, including Putnam Valley’s Amanda Orlando, who’s hard-nosed grit helped get her Tigers to the NYSPHSAA Class B Final 4, and Lakeland seniors Meaghan Casey, Jaden Ray and two-time all-state midfielder Mia Smith for continuing Coach Sharon Sarsen’s unmatched field hockey tradition of 13 straight sectional titles #Incredible.

Congratulations to the Class of 2022, including my sweety, Mahopac grad Megan Gallagher.

We could go on and on about our senior’s achievements this school year, including Mahopac’s three-sport senior Anthony DeMatteo, who was named the Indians’ Justin Wagner Memorial Scholarship Award winner after bringing home a Con Ed scholar athlete award during the football season, just as his grandfather, Coach Tony D, and father/coach, Dominick, did in their heyday.

Heck, Hen Hud continued its stranglehold on Con Ed Award winners, taking home three more this year, including seniors Mackenzie Calhoun (volleyball), John Sterner (track and field) and Taeghan Dopson (softball).

Our seniors showed great resilience in the face of adversity, despite being cheated by a pandemic that stole nearly two years of high school experiences, which have left many behind the eight ball.

It’s imperative they jump that proverbial eight ball and get back out in front of the field. Choose your course of life wisely and own it, whether it be school or trades. Take advice from people you trust but think for yourself and avoid the indoctrination of all. When one door closes, another opens. The door to high school has closed, but the door to being is wide open, so make sure you walk through – heads held high – with passion, confidence and conviction soaring. Congrats to all on your recent commencement!

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