Yorktown Avenges Somers, Wins 1st Section 1 Chip Since 1998; Haldane Blows 21-Point Lead in Class D Title Loss to Tuckahoe; Giachinta Sets School Rushing Record
Yorktown High Football Coach Mike Rescigno heard the whispers. “How has Yorktown not won a section title in two decades with all the talent they get? And stuff like, “Why can’t Yorktown win the big game anymore?”
It wore him down, because football is life for Rescigno, and that kind of life isn’t full until you win the big game. Those whispers would have grown to roars if Rescigno, with sure-fire first team All-NYS RB/LB Brett Makar by his side, had lost last Friday’s Section 1 Class A championship rematch against defending NYS champion Somers (7-3).
Makar, perhaps the finest multi-sport athlete in Northern Westchester/Putnam history, and Rescigno’s state-ranked (No.2) Huskers (10-0) had other plans, though, erasing a 7-0 halftime deficit with 21 unanswered points in a span of nine minutes bridging the third and fourth quarters to post a 21-7 victory, thus securing Yorktown’s first sectional title since 1998. In their third finals appearance as an unbeaten No.1 seed in four seasons, Yorktown, which won four section titles from 1998-98 and consecutive state jewels in 1993-94, silenced the whispers, rallying for three touchdowns in the second half, touching off an emotional celebration that was 19 years in the making.
“Honestly, right now I feel like I’m in a dream,” said Rescigno, the former Hofstra lineman now in his 13th season at Yorktown. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of these kids. This is a special team. The pressure of 9-0 can sometimes feel like an ape on your back; speaking for myself and the kids who have been here two years in a row. I got a staff that’s amazing, kids who are amazing and they really earned this man. We did this for our town and for all the kids who have been here before us. We’ve been knocking and knocking on this door and we finally busted through it. Yorktown football has been my life, I’m so elated. I’ve had that burden on my conscience of not having gotten it done for so many kids, so this is truly a relief.”
The Huskers advanced to face six-time defending Section 9 champ Cornwall in the NYSPHSAA quarterfinal on Friday, November 10 at Dietz Stadium in Kingston at 7 p.m.
“This is a dream come true,” said Maryland-bound senior Makar, who was named the game’s most outstanding back after stomping off 213 yards on 30 carries, including a 51-yard TD jaunt. Makar then added a game-sealing 40-yard rush that set up a 26-yard TD catch by senior RB Brandon Meyreles (83 yards from scrimmage) from QB Tommy Weaver (7-of-10, 53 yards) on 4th-and-2 with 9:27 left for a 14-7 lead after the two-point conversion from Naim Sinanaj.
Just four plays later, Yorktown sealed the deal. Makar ransacked Somers quarterback Kevin Olifiers for a third-down sack, setting up fourth-and-long. The subsequent snap to punter Olifiers was off target, and after Olifiers gathered for the punt it was blocked by Husker Alex Ujkaj, who recovered the in the end zone for Yorktown, leading to the final margin.
“This is for the entire community,” Makar added. “These fans give us their undying support. Win or lose, the people of Yorktown are the first people to greet you to congratulate when you win and pick you up when you lose. These are the same people that had our backs last year when we lost this game. They’re my boys and my family and I love this town and to be able to represent them as Section 1 champions in the state tournament means so much to me, it’s very emotional. No one from Yorktown has ever won this in my lifetime, so to be able to get it done means so much to me.
“Coach Rescigno deserved this,” Makar added. “It was all heart for that guy. It’s all about what’s in your heart and we gave it all for him because he gives it all for us. That’s Yorktown, that’s family, that’s grit. We never backed down. (Jack) Gilroy and (Nick) Gargiulo are two of the best players in the section who are going to go on to college and have successful careers, and God willing we were able to hold them off in the second half.”
After a forgetful first half, Weaver gathered his wits and rebounded to find Meyreles for the go-ahead score while rushing for nearly 50 yards. The junior signal caller is simply stoic but responsive when called upon all season.
“We put in so much work to get here,” Weaver said. “This is the most rewarding feeling I could ever have. We were struggling a little bit in the first half, but I never lost hope in my guys. I kept faith in them and trusted them, and that helped us execute in the second half. Brett was a man among boys, really. He’s the best athlete on the field no matter who we play. Our goal now is to keep playing all the way to Thanksgiving weekend (when the state finals are played in Syracuse).”
Husker DB Ben Robinson (5 tackle) picked off Somers’ final possession, allowing the Huskers to run out the clock in the uneventful waning moments. Tim Muller (8 tackles), Brandon Fontanella (7 tackles), Matt Steigmeier (7 tackles, sack) and Sean O’Connor (7 tackles) led the stingy Husker D, which limited Somers to 108 yards from scrimmage. Steigmeier and O’Connor were bullish on the O-line, too.
Somers came on strong in the second half of the season and looked the part of a serious challenger throughout the first half on Friday, but the Tuskers left some opportunities behind and allowed the Huskers to hang around when they failed to take advantage of Yorktown’s heinous first-half effort (the Huskers committed nine penalties for 61 yards while amassing just 59 yards of total offense in the first half).
“The first half we came out and we were clicking,” said Tusker TE Jack Gilroy, who scored off a four-yard TD pass from QB Kevin Olifiers for a 7-0 lead and added two sacks on defense. “But we weren’t able to make the big plays to put them away. We let them stick around for too long and eventually they scored two quick ones in the fourth and we weren’t able to come back from that.”
Yorktown needed an introspective moment at halftime when Rescigno rallied the troops, and the fiery mentor got through to his team.
“It looked a lot like last year’s first half,” Rescigno said. “Penalty after penalty, so I told them at half that you’re either going to play our brand of football and win or we’re going to lose this game if you’re going to play someone else’s brand, so what’s it going to be. We looked over at our buddy, Spencer Poe, one of our starting linemen who was replaced by a sophomore when he got hurt and couldn’t, and we told our kids, ‘You owe Spencer more than the effort we just gave’ and the kids just rallied around that and got behind their buddy.”
On to Kingston! Let the quest for a third NYS title begin…
HALDANE squandered a 21-point lead en route to a 36-33 loss to rival Tuckahoe in the Section 1 Class D championship last Friday.
Despite a four-touchdown effort from QB Brandon Twoguns (96 yards rushing) and a school record 315 rushing yards from Sammy ‘The Bull’ Giachinta, including a 76-yard TD jaunt, the Blue Devils did not get enough stops on defense in the second half to secure the win.
“Obviously, we are disappointed with how the sectional game ended,” Haldane boss Ryan McConville said, “but overall we are very happy about the season. We played some very good teams and were able to come away with a 6-2 regular season record, our first winning season since 2011. The team really bonded and developed into a great group of young men. The group of seniors have set the bar high now for the standard of Haldane football.”