Football junkies across the land finally got their fix last week, including a near-epic upset of Michigan from our loveable ARMY Black Knights in Ann Arbor, MI. Though Army lost in OT, 24-21, fans of the Cadets across the country loved the spunk and spirit they showed last Saturday during a terrific weekend of football action. Week 1 of Friday Night Lights in Section 1 was pretty special, too.
CARMEL will have to batten down the hatches if Coach Todd Cayea’s 25th season on the Class AA Rams’ sideline is going to be a productive one. The Rams took one step forward and two steps back last Friday night in their pivotal 14-9 League I-AA loss to visiting John Jay EF last Friday. There were plenty of bright spots for the Rams, but costly mistakes took the wind from their sails and as a result they find themselves in an early hole as the favored Patriots get a leg up on their primary competition.
Jay RB/DB Luke Mahon rushed for two touchdowns and had a pair of late fourth-quarter interceptions in the end zone to seal the deal. Carmel struggled offensively and had four turnovers, two of which were fumbles to go along with the two picks. Carmel fumbled the ball five times in all, something they will need to clean up immediately if the Rams are going to reach their grand goal of reaching the Class AA finals; what looked like a pipe dream with the amount of mistakes the Rams made throughout the game.
However, when Carmel QB Andrew Nunez went deep for 27 yards to WR Alex Beauchesne to the Patriot 5, converting a third and 3 with 2:42 remaining, the Rams were just five yards away from the tying score. But Nunez tried to force the next play into double coverage and was picked. The Rams forced an intentional safety four plays later and got as close the 31-yard line before Mahon struck again in the right corner of the end zone,
Still, Carmel, which scored its lone TD on a two-yard reverse from senior Beauchesne, has plenty of time to right the ship.
“We had way too many turnovers,” Beauchesne admitted, “but that game is in the past now and we are just going to work harder and focus on us as a team getting better every day.”
MAHOPAC which went 3-6 last year, began its ascension, what will be a work in progress behind a grandiose sophomore class. RB Matt Courtney rushed for three touchdowns and 121 yards, including long scampers of 35 and 20 yards. Fellow sophomore RB Mike Harney added 26 yards on two rushes, one which went to the house, so the rookie backfield lit things up during a triumphant debut that concluded in a 34-0 rout of the Yonkers Brave last Friday.
Yet another sophomore, sure-handed 5’10” WR Ryan Rondeau, added another touchdown, a 60-yard scoring strike from senior QB Jack Carey, who hit on 5-of-7 passes for 94 yards. Senior OL/DL captains Billy Reilly and John Ryan were stout up front on both sides of the ball, according to veteran Coach Dominick DeMatteo.
“We took a significant step in the right direction tonight,” DeMatteo said. “I’m very pleased with the way we played as a team.”
Indeed, the youthful Indians did just that, and while we don’t fully expect them to regain the coveted Higgins trophy from Carmel this year, this Higgins game is gonna be lit the next three years. There’s a good chance Mahopac ends Carmel’s win streak in 2020, though — what would be five-straight Ram wins over the Indians; if things play out as expected in pivotal Week 7 of 2019. Either way, we’re all down with the sickness.
SOMERS, as expected, went off on host Horace Greeley, 55-0. Tusker senior RB Charlie Balancia went for 121 yards on two carries, TD jaunts of 59 and 62 yards to help build a 28-0 first-quarter lead.
“I basically went untouched,” Balancia said. “It was a foot race to the end zone because our new O-line is really coming together.”
Somers RB Jack Kaiser rolled for two more scores. DB T.J. Deagan and DE Charlie Grinrod each had a pair of sacks on the other side of the ball.
BREWSTER controlled the trenches in its 18-0 win over visiting LAKELAND last Friday, opening holes for shifty HB Tommy Consolato, who had two rushing touchdowns and 81 yards on 10 carries and added three catches for 45 yards. The Bears held Lakeland RB Matt Makar to just 20 yards rushing on 17 carries, limiting his ability to get into the creases and getting a head of steam forward. Bear Paul Catalano recovered a Justin Niles fumble at the goal line for a score in the Lakeland end zone.
Danny Libretti led Lakeland’s defense with nine tackles while Jason Green added seven.
“Always good to win the opener,” Bears Coach Ed Mulvihill said. “The crowd was great. Lakeland is going to win their share of games. They were tough kids and well coached. I thought our defense rose to the occasion and played well together. We shut down the running lanes for Makar. He had nowhere to go. Consolato is a tough runner with a great burst in traffic.”
Brewster sophomore QB Chris Donohue was sharp for his first game under center, hitting on 9-of-14 passes for 121 yards.
“My QB was great for a soph is his first game,” Mulvihill said. “He didn’t seem rattled. We have plenty of pieces we want to fix but we’re happy with the start.”
HEN HUD won the battle of new coaches, dishing out a 25-7 league setback to host WALTER PANAS last Friday. First-year Sailor skipper John Catano, a veteran along the Section 1 scene as both a player and former Croton-Harmon coach, won in his debut as head coach at his alma mater, defeating first-year Panther Coach Paul Ronga.
Sailor RB Braden Ellis rushed for scores of 29 and 27 yards as Hen Hud took a commanding 25-0 lead into the break.
“I’m very happy that we won, but we did not play to our potential,” Catano said. “We are playing the defending sectional champions (John Jay) next and will not win if we don’t step up our offensive game.”
Panas has some work to do. Senior QB Mark Perez and senior WR Robert Ennis did hook up with an electrifying 64-yard jump-ball bomb to the red zone.
PUTNAM VALLEY got smoked, 28-0, in a tough season-opener against host Byram Hills at Fox Lane High School. The Bobcats figure to be one of the top teams in Class B this year, so the Tigers have some work to do in order to stand tall among the rank and file.
HALDANE found the going rough in a 44-16 loss to Rye Neck, despite some solid numbers from Blue Devil QB Daniel Santos (24 rushes, 154 yards and a score to go with 122 yards and two scores through the air).
NWE/Putnam Top 5 Grid Poll
No.1 SOMERS – Tuskers (1-0) rushing attack should be too much for visiting Yorktown to handle this Friday night, but the place should be pretty lit as the neighboring rivals rekindle their no love-lost affair.
No.2 CARMEL – Week 1 loss to Jay EF should have little effect on the Rams (0-1) going 5-1 by the time they see Mahopac in Week 7, unless RCK is as good as its 28-0 win over Ossining suggests (doubt it, though), or a string of injuries derail them, or the Rams can’t figure out this turnover bugaboo.
No.3 YORKTOWN – Admired this program since the ’93-’94 state title teams and the run to the state finals in 2017, but 2019 looks like a Somers vs. Rye deal, unless reigning champion John Jay CR can reload and take aim at back-to-back crowns. Huskers will need #TheCrop to travel well Friday. Blowout of Peekskill was a tune-up, the real deal starts Friday vs. Somers.
No.4 MAHOPAC – Three sophomores combined for 5 TDs in a 34-0 win over Yonkers Brave. Now, we get that it was only the Y.O. but that’s still a pretty big deal for a program looking to hang its hat on this ballyhooed group of greenhorns that has already had a ton of success at the youth levels.
No.5 BREWSTER – Man, we can only hope his classmates are as smooth as sophomore QB Chris Donohue was last Friday in 18-0 win over Lakeland #DudeShowedPoise.