Local Football Teams Break in New Talent at Fourth Annual Big Apple Shootout

It’s less than three months until the second Saturday in September when the 2012 high school football season officially begins. Even though school finals aren’t over yet the buzz about high school football in the area is heating up for a few weeks starting with the fourth annual Big Apple Shootout at White Plains High School, which was held this past Saturday.

Coach Skip Stevens talking to his team during the Big Apple Shootout. Photo by Peter Gerken

The seven-on-seven tournament brought together over 15 varsity football programs from across Section 1 along with Stepinac and Fordham Prep. Seven-on Seven high school football is what football coaches like to refer as their version of pickup basketball. There is no pass rush; no running plays and quarterbacks only get four seconds to throw the ball. If the quarterback doesn’t get rid of the ball by the end of four seconds it is considered a sack for the defense.

Both White Plains and Stepinac had moments in which they looked they were a championship football team and both also experienced moments when they played like a football team that might have trouble being over the .500 mark in 2012.

It’s wonderful to watch these spring football games but they have to be looked at and taken with a grain of salt due to their non-contact nature, which really favors the offense and places much more pressure on the quarterback and defensive backs.

Stepinac

At this moment the top story in the area regarding football is Stepinac junior quarterback Daniel Hoffer. The junior put on about 10 pounds of muscle since the end of the 2011 season.

Hoffer threw the ball hard last season but on Saturday his passes were zipping through the air at tremendous speeds. This summer he will attend several college football camps including Boston College and Marshall University.

He finished in the top five in the most recent MSG Varsity Quarterback Challenge. During the challenge he won the competition for throwing the farthest ball, throwing the football 62 yards.

In the Crusaders’ first game on Saturday against Spring Valley everything was going the Crusaders’ way. Hoffer was drilling his passes into the hands of his key receivers Justin Thomas and Christian Lopez, which led to several touchdowns by the Crusaders. Spring Valley was intercepted four times by the Crusaders defense.

It looked business as usual for the Crusaders despite the fact they might have graduated a few weeks ago their most-talented group of seniors in the history of the school.

After winning their second game in the shootout over North Rockland the Crusaders ended the shootout with a game versus Rye where all the good will and momentum they had built up during the first two games dissipated and they were more or less dominated.

Rye played a flawless game, but for the Crusaders on some plays it looked like a comedy of errors – which is bound to happened when you haven’t played as a team since November and a lot of new players are on the field for the first time.

Rye had all the right moves against the Crusaders defense and the Garnets’ defense kept Hoffer and company off the scoreboard during the first half of play.

Hoffer might have one of the strongest arms in high school football but one of the areas that troubled him in the 2011 is how accurate his throws are. Last years he completed less than 50 percent of his passes. His two best games in 2011 came against Middletown when he completed seven of 14 passes for 204 yards and the regular season game versus Holy Cross, in which he completed six of 12 for 188 yards

After the Rye game, O’Donnell talked to his team, saying they need to get better leadership, cut down on the simple mistakes and more importantly try to keep their head in the game no matter what score the scoreboard reads.

O’Donnell and the Crusaders will take part in three more seven-on-seven tournaments. The next tournament will be in Carmel on Friday, followed by New Canaan on July 14 and Stepinac will host a tournament on July 21.

White Plains

Similar to the Crusaders, the Tigers are dealing with graduation a lot of key senior players. There are a lot of new faces on the field for the Tigers, starting with their quarterback. The task of replacing the talented Jeff Avery will most likely be a two-man competition between Cameron Crabbe and Emeka Caranzza.

Crabbe has been the starting quarterback on the White Plains Junior Varsity team for the past two seasons and is also a starter of the White Plains Varsity Baseball team. This summer he will play summer baseball for Marcel Galligani’s team while also prepping for football season.

Both quarterbacks split time with the first string offense on Saturday. Crabbe looks like he has the stronger arm while the southpaw thrower Caranzza might possess a touch more speed and looked effective rolling out of the pocket before throwing the ball.

The Tigers won their first game against Mamaroneck before dropping a close game in the second round to Sleepy Hollow. In the Sleepy Hollow game the Tigers got burned on a couple deep throws. The secondary will need some work before the start of the regular season.

Two players who looked in midseason form were Ari Shamery and Timothy Hodges. Shamery looks like he is one of the better athletes on the Tigers squad and he could be a deep threat for Coach Steven’s squad in 2012. Also catching some eye-catching receptions were Luke Puff and Lukas Repetti

On Friday the Tigers will participate in the Carmel tournament and will also play in the New Canaan tournament in July.

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