By Ray Gallagher
Examiner Sports Editor @Directrays
Rob DiAntonio @RJD_Photos
So, we’ve reached Week 6, the climax of the 2021 grid campaign: Just bring it! Bring on John Jay CR vs. Somers for all the Class A marbles up North. Bring on Byram Hills vs. Westlake in a Class B section final. It’s not the typical playoff scenario we’re accustomed to — due to COVID-19 bullspit — but Week 6 will have some incredibly juicy regional championship matchups as we put a bow on a football season we were lucky to have in any way, shape and form.
And one can only imagine the culminating events within the Somers-based Polito/Deagan households should the cousins — 6-foot, 200-pound Tusker senior TJ Deagan and 6’3” 290-pound sophomore Jake Polito — pull off a regional title win over neighboring rival John Jay CR #OhLordy.
SOMERS 32, SPRING VALLEY 8
With the game still hanging in the balance early in the third quarter, Somers senior Nate Rosenzweig turned the game on a dime with a momentum-swinging 57-yard kick return to set up senior RB Evan Lasseter’s second TD of the game, a 26-yard jaunt that provided a 17-8 edge.
Spring Valley had more than hung around for a half, trailing 10-0, but Coach Tony DeMatteo’s Tuskers (5-0) wore the Tigers (3-1) down in the second half behind 27 rushes, 152 yards and a TD from senior RB Jack Kaiser, who now has a school record-setting 49 career TD’s
“To be a part of history in a school that is so successful is just such an honor,” said Kaiser, who has 2,398 total rushing yards in two normal seasons, plus a 2021 Covid-abreviated senior year. “The past three years my linemen have done everything for me to get all of the touchdowns, and I’m so grateful for them as I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for them.”
“We are just a very physical team that will keep pounding and pounding the football to wear them down,” added Kaiser, who will serve a year at Trinity-Pawling Prep for the 2022 season. “After a while, they get mentally and physically exhausted and can’t keep up with us. Then, we break one and their morale just shoots down. It’s our brand of football and we are good at it.”
When Kaiser wasn’t pummeling dudes between the tackles, Lasseter (3 rushes, 44 yards) and senior TJ Deagan (7 rushes, 59 yards) were exposing the Spring Valley edges for pivotal big-gain chunks behind a talented offensive line led by 6’3” 290-pound DI-prospect Jake Polito.
“As a firm believer in running the ball down every team’s throat, I think it starts with dominance in the trenches,” Polito said. “Since the very beginning of the 2019 season we made it a big point to be a five-chain link with no weak points. If all five of us beat our blocks and block down field, there’s not a team in the world that’s able to stop that. Complete dominance on the line, plus freak athlete running backs, equals wins.”
Throughout his storied career, that has been the winning formula for Coach DeMatteo, who now, with 359 career wins, sits just six triumphs shy of the NYS record for career wins (Howie Vogts, Bethpage, 364).
Playing without injured starting QB Jackson Kossow for a second-straight week, the Tigers loaded the box against the Tuskers and simply couldn’t wrap up effectively enough to contain Somers, which hopes like heck to have Kossow back for a Week 6 Section 1 Class A regional championship matchup with undefeated John Jay CR (5-0) this Friday (7 p.m.) in what should be the game of the year in this neck of the woods. In the meantime, backup QB Julian Casciano ran in the final score for the Tuskers.
Jay Coach Jimmy Clark’s unit is stout up front and have played a better brand of defense than most Indians, er, uh, Wolves teams ever have, allowing just 20 points this season. In a normal year, free of COVID-19 restrictions, only undefeated Rye would stand between the Tuskers and Wolves for a potential Section 1 Class A title, but the local media will be out in full force Friday nonetheless.
SOMERS 40, NORTH ROCKLAND 0
Somers senior Evan Lasseter took the opening kick 90 yards to the house and the host Tuskers never looked back in a 40-0 whitewashing over North Rockland, the former Class AA powerhouse, last Monday. We had all heard about Lasseter after his transfer to Somers from Hackley, and this was his turn to shine as he added a second score and went for 111 total yards.
Somers senior HB Nate Rosenzweig scooted 39 yards for a first-quarter score. Senior FS Frankie Gallagher recovered a fumble on a botched punt, setting up a Julian Casciano five-yard TD pass to senior HB Cole Zampaglione. Kaiser (11 carries, 86 yards, 2 TDs) did his thing.
MAHOPAC 28, BREWSTER 6
At 9:11 of the second quarter FB Michael Harney led HB Vin Bastone in from two yards out for a 6-0 lead, all set up by WR Andrew Cohen’s 40-yard punt return to the two. It was Bastone’s ninth touchdown of the season.
A 19-yard out-route from QB Anthony DeMatteo to Cohen set the Indians up at the Brewster seven just before the half, and after a Mahopac penalty Bastone went off left tackle from the 10 for his 10th TD with 44 seconds to go before the half when the Indians held a 12-0 lead after missing their second PAT try.
Mahopac WR/DB Matt Puckhaber made two big plays for the Indians, including a key strip inside the Indians five just before the half, and an 18-yard rushing score to open the third-quarter scoring. The score was set up by sophomore DB Joey Koch’s INT. Puckhaber finished his career day by snagging an 11-yard slant from DeMatteo for a 28-6 lead with 5:22 to play.
Brewster QB Chris Donohue scored from inches off the goal line at 8:48 of the third to cut the deficit to 21-6, but key Indian defensive stops, including a strip-sack by the West Point-bound Harney, kept the Bears in check. Donohue completed 13 of 24 pass attempts for 184 yards while DeMatteo hit on 12 of 15 passes for 146 yards and one TD.
MAHOPAC 34, CLARKS. NORTH 12
Bastone needed just nine carries to score his three TDs and 133 rushing yards while sidekick junior HB Steve Perrone rushed for a career-high 93 yards on nine totes and took a 20-yard fumble recovery to the house off a Colum Ranaghan blocked punt. The two-headed attack and the Indians’ stout O-line was too much for North to handle.
“We cranked up the run game, getting 308 yards on 25 carries as a team,” Coach DeMatteo said. “Our guys did a great job blocking up front and on perimeter. Our defense played well for the third straight week. We held them to 147 yards rushing on 51 carries (2.8 avg) and held their passing game to 23 yards. Our special teams also continued to improve as we blocked a punt before the half and returned it for a TD.”
Indian QB Anthony DeMatteo fired a 39-yard TD strike to senior WR Andrew Cohen, who now has five TD catches on the year.
Mahopac will face Lakeland in its season finale (TBA).
CARMEL 31, JOHN JAY EF 0
John Jay EF didn’t know what hit them when Nick Rosaforte, Andrew Fiore, Josh Massi and Patrick Kiernan each found paydirt and K Nick Sodano unleashed a 31-yard field goal and hit all four PATs for the surging Rams (4-1), who saw their defense rise to the occasion to post its first shutout of the season. Massi, as has been the case all season, was the workhorse, rushing 25 times for 117 yards, largely in the wildcat formation.
“Honestly, the coaches worked really hard putting a game plan together this week and we executed it,” Massi said. “Everyone did their jobs and we just were more physical. Everyone rallied to the ball on defense and on offense we were sharp.”
Fiore’s 18-yard TD grab came via QB Kevin Dall.
With an untested senior class going in, the Rams were supposed to be in a rebuilding mode this season, but the seniors have contributed where needed and the junior class has come of age quickly under veteran Coach Todd Cayea.
“You can’t take away from these seniors, who have made great contributions every day, but the young kids are doing a tremendous job of learning how to prepare week in week out,” Cayea said. “They are beginning to become football players, not just a kid that plays football but a kid that makes a significant difference. I’ve also been very impressed by the three sophomores; Rosaforte, (Owen) Boland and (Anthony) Briante. The way they go about processing information and transferring it into a game situation is very rare for 15-year-old kids, but this team loves ballin’ and they are passionate, high-character, student athletes.”
Carmel returns to Dutchess County for Week 6 to take on Roy C. Ketcham Saturday (6 p.m.).
YORKTOWN 48, PANAS 12
Husker senior RB Evan Makar had three TDs, leading up to a 34-6 lead with 10:25 left in the third quarter. Makar busted off TD jaunts of 39, nine and five yards en route to 85 rushing yards.
“Evan was awesome, for sure,” said first-year Yorktown Coach Pantelis Ypsilantis, who the Huskers are playing hard for. “He was really feeling it.”
Yorktown RB Jack Carlin (3 rushes, 64 yards) added a pair of scores, including an electrifying 51-yard scoot to paydirt, and Anthony Cicinelli (7 rushes, 76 yards, 31-yard TD) provided all the scoring the Huskers (4-1) would need.
Yorktown sophomore QB Justin Meyerles added 12 rushes for 125 yards while connecting on 6-of-12 passes for 73 yards and a TD pass to Carlin.
Defensively, the Huskers were led by a relentless group of underclassmen, including junior DL Dino Bowen (13 tackles, 3 sacks), junior LB Giacomo Micciari (9 tackles, 1 sack) junior LB Vincent Cappelli (8 tackles, 1 sack) and sophomore LB Cristian DiCanio, who sealed the deal with fumble recovery and return to the house for Yorktown.
“I’m very excited to coach this group up,” Ypsilantis said. “It is a nice core of defenders coming back next year. The sophomore class makes it a bit tricky in terms of numbers for our program, but we like what we return.”
The Huskers will face surging Our Lady of Lourdes in Week 6, challenging OLL Coach Brian Walsh — the longtime Yorktown resident and highly respected former Brewster coaching legend — in his swan song #MajorPropsToCoachWalsh.
Panas RB James Duren’s second TD of the night provided a brief glimmer of hope for the winless Panthers, who will face Brewster in Week 6.
WESTLAKE 14, PLEASANTVILLE 0
Late in the first half, Westlake senior quarterback Matt Sardo went over to head coach John Castellano and called his own number. And it turned the game around.
Sardo ripped off a 47-yard touchdown run, jetting along the left sideline while truck sticking a defender and diving for the end zone. It gave visiting Westlake a 7-0 halftime lead and momentum.
“I told my coach I wanted to get outside because I knew I had a lot of room,” Sardo said. “I was so angry because of all the penalties and everything. I just needed to blow off some steam. Once I saw the end zone, I wasn’t going down. I couldn’t. I had to get in there for my boys.”
Sardo later sealed the win with a late touchdown run and the Wildcats (3-1) went on to defeat rival Pleasantville 14-0 on Saturday night.
“He called that play,” Castellano said of Sardo’s touchdown before halftime. “We were going to throw the ball there and he said, ‘Coach, listen, we’ve got that play on that quarterback sweep. Let me run it and I think I can get us somewhere.’ He knows better than I do sometimes. That was a man run right there; that was a big-time run. He broke some tackles and he was so determined to get in the end zone.”
Pleasantville’s Daniel Picart had a kickoff return for a touchdown called back on a hold to start the second half. The Panthers later threatened when quarterback Aidan Picart found Daniel for a 28-yard pass late in the third quarter. A personal foul on Westlake got Pleasantville down to the Wildcat 25. Panther Kieran Cotter recovered a fumble at the 15 but Pleasantville was then called for a personal foul and eventually turned the ball over on downs.
Sardo’s 25-yard touchdown run along the right sideline finished off an eight-play drive with three minutes to go in the game. Josh Gelman’s extra point made it 14-0 Wildcats.
“My line does a fantastic job every week protecting me,” said Sardo, who will play Division 1 lacrosse next year at the University of Hartford. “At practice, they work their butts off. We have a great line coach and they just do their jobs. It’s all them; they get all the credit. I just find whatever hole is open and just make it happen.”
Since a Week 1 loss to Byram, Westlake has allowed just 13 points in three wins.
“We’ve been playing great defense the last three or four weeks,” Castellano said. “We did a great job tonight. They must have run five or six different trick plays: double reverses, double passes. I thought our kids were very disciplined on defense.”
The Panthers (2-3) were without junior quarterback Michael LaCapria, who missed the game due to a concussion. Pleasantville will likely have a bowl game this weekend against either Ardsley or Nanuet.
“We’ve played them seven or eight times since I’ve been here and I don’t know if there’s a game that has been more than a one or two touchdown win,” Castellano said of the rivalry with Pleasantville. “It’s always like that when we play. They’ve known each other since they were 3 or 4 years old. It’s just a war out here. It’s not a typical high school football game. And I thought we responded real well. I thought Pleasantville played hard. They were down a couple guys and found a way to keep themselves in the game.”
Westlake will travel to Byram Hills for the Section 1 Class B championship game on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The Wildcats fell to the Bobcats 26-7 in Week 1 of the regular season in a game that was tied 7-7 at halftime.
“We’re a way better football team than we were the first week of the season,” Sardo said. “Especially, with COVID, we barely had any practices (before the first game). We had a lot key players that only had five days (of practice) because they had basketball. And I just think we’re an overall better football team and we’re going to make it happen. We’re more conditioned. In the fourth quarter of that game we just ran out of steam and that’s not going to happen this week.”
BYRAM HILLS 21, ARDSLEY 7
After falling in the Section 1 Class B championship game last season, Byram Hills had to wait a year-and-a-half to get another crack at Ardsley. The Bobcats made the most of that opportunity with a 21-7 victory over the host Panthers on Saturday afternoon. Byram (5-0) also capped off an unbeaten regular season.
Senior quarterback Hayden Fruhling rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. He also threw a touchdown pass and had 70 yards passing.
“It was a great team win and it was nice to redeem ourselves in a sense,” said Fruhling, a team captain. “It pushed us all offseason and it was definitely a satisfying victory.”
Senior running back Matt Weiler rushed for 130 yards on 24 carries and added two sacks on defense. Weiler has rushed for 592 yards and seven touchdowns on the season.
A blocked punt set the Bobcats up for their first score as Fruhling punched it in and David Gold’s PAT made it 7-0. Fruhling then hooked up with Ryan Abatemarco on a 42-yard strike to extend the lead to 14-0.
Ardsley threatened before halftime but Byram came through with a goal-line stand. Jack Tillinger batted down a fourth down pass and the Bobcats went into halftime with the two touchdown lead.
“That stop was huge to keep our momentum going into the half,” Fruhling said. “Jack Tillinger made a great play and I think our goal line defense and our ability to respond to adversity is a testament to the way we’re coached and to what the program has become.”
A fake punt kept a drive going to start the second half as punter Daniel Ahern scampered 19 yards for the first down. Fruhling later plunged into the end zone from two yards out to extend the lead to 21-0 midway through the third quarter. Ardsley got on the board with a touchdown pass a few minutes later but the Bobcats’ defense locked down after that.
The Bobcats now move on to the Section 1 Class B championship game where they will host Westlake on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Byram defeated the Wildcats 26-7 back in Week 1.
“The mindset is simply to win,” Fruhling said. “We’ve put in a lot of work and we’re excited to have the opportunity to compete for a championship.”
HEN HUD 42, PUTNAM VALLEY 0
Sailor senior RB Ryan Travis had his way on senior night in the Valley, spoiling the celebration for PV. With feline quickness, Travis rushed six times for 108 yards for a score and added a 67-yard TD grab to the mix.
“Ryan was flying all over the place, really nailing kids on defense and hitting the holes on offense, playing unbelievable. Putnam Valley played hard, the final score is not indicative of that,” Hen Hud Coach John Catano admitted. “I was proud of my guys.”
Sailor QB Chris McGuire hit on 3-of-5 passes for 107 yards and two TD strikes while RBs Chanse Artope (14 rushes, 95 yards, 2 TDs) and Nick Cepeda ( 6 rushes, 40 yards, TD) both had their way.
The Sailors (4-1) will host Pearl River Wednesday (6:30 p.m.) in the hopes of finishing with their best winning percentage since 1999 when Hen Hud reached the Class B sectional finals and lost to Harrison. The Tigers (0-5) will not play in Week 6.
BRIARCLIFF/HAM. 28, IRVINGTON 6
Briarcliff/Hamilton jumped out to a 28-0 halftime lead and cruised to a 28-6 victory over host Irvington on Saturday. The Bears, who were on pause for a stretch this season, improved to 3-0. Brandon Rispoli paced Briarcliff/Hamilton with three touchdowns.
The Bears scored on their first play from scrimmage when senior quarterback Marc Milano dumped off a short pass to Kyle Proctor and he jetted 77 yards for the score. Myzel Davis ran in the two-point conversion to give B/H the early 8-0 lead.
“We came out with some intensity and we came out really dialed in and focused when we got off the bus,” Briarcliff/Hamilton coach Skip Stevens said. “Offensively, we scored on the first play that we touch the ball, which is great. The defense played really well holding them to a three-and-out the first series after a long kick return.”
On fourth down, Milano notched his second touchdown pass when he found Rispoli over the middle on a 16-yard route. The kick was no good and the Bears led 14-0 with 2:08 left in the first quarter.
Jaylen Savage then made a highlight-reel over the shoulder grab on a 28-yard pass from Milano to get Briarcliff down to Irvington’s 4. Rispoli punched it in on a pitch on third down. Milano found Proctor on the two-point conversion and the Bears led 22-0 with 7:45 remaining in the second quarter.
“If you’re on the other side, I think it’s really tough to dial in on one person,” Stevens said when asked how difficult it is to stop them when they have multiple playmakers on offense. “We’ve got two or three running backs, four or five receivers and we’ve got a pretty good quarterback that can throw it. And then we have two tight ends. It makes us pretty balanced which is great.”
On the Bulldogs’ next possession, Rispoli scooped up a fumble and returned it 23 yards for his third touchdown of the day and a 28-0 lead. Davis forced the fumble.
The Bears’ defense nearly pitched a shutout but allowed a late touchdown. They were on the field for the majority of the second half and Irvington had a few red zone chances but the defense was up to the task.
“I think the defense stepped up and played really well considering they were probably inside our 40 five or six times after we committed three turnovers,” Stevens said. “I just thought we dialed in and played some pretty good defense.”
Briarcliff/Hamilton will host Albertus Magnus in the independent league championship game on Saturday at 2 p.m.
“It’s just the chemistry and we have really good leadership,” Stevens said of the key ingredients to the team’s success. “We’ve really built kind of a bond at Briarcliff. We have a lot of things that go on with the Briarcliff/Hamilton merge. The bond is great and we come to practice every day and there are no bad practices.”
WHITE PLAINS 40, YONKERS BRAVE 0
White Plains ended a two-game slide and improved to 2-3 with a 40-0 shutout win over visiting Yonkers Brave on Friday night. The Tigers, who were celebrating their senior night, built a 20-0 halftime lead behind a strong defense which allowed just 29 rushing yards in the first half.
“The defense really put us in good position all game,” White Plains coach Mike Lindberg said. “They really helped us keep the momentum. I also thought our quick passing game helped to set up the run.”
Senior Chris McGuire rushed for the Tigers’ first two touchdowns to get White Plains out to a quick 12-0 lead.
Starting quarterback Jay Biondi threaded the needle to Spencer Englert on a fourth-down touchdown pass before halftime. Biondi, who originally split time with Englert at quarterback to begin the season, found Dwayne Edwards on a 10-yard route for a score to extend the lead to 26-0 midway through the third quarter.
The Tigers’ next touchdown came on a three-yard run from Biondi, who capped off a drive sparked by carries from McGuire and Nicolas Spista.
“Jay has done a good job staying in the game,” Lindberg said of Biondi, a junior. “He’s very young so every rep is a positive. Chris McGuire and Spencer have been really solid for us every week.”
After five straight carries, senior Hector Mejia finished off the scoring with a 3-yard touchdown. He then plowed into the end zone again on the two-point conversion.
White Plains will conclude its season when it hosts powerhouse New Rochelle, which is coming off a loss to Suffern, at 6 p.m. Thursday.
JOHN JAY-CR 44, GREELEY 14
Host Horace Greeley fell to unbeaten John Jay-Cross River 44-14 on Friday night in a game that was closer than the final score indicated.
The Quakers were in the game early after quarterback Ry Wohl found Joseph Weiner on a 23-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter to the cut the deficit to 9-6. Wohl connected with Zach Eichenberg on fourth down for a 37-yard TD strike midway through the second quarter. Vincent Santelia found Weiner on the two-point conversion pass to make it 23-14 Wolves. John Jay rattled off 21 unanswered points to close out the game.
Greeley, which dropped to 0-4, also lost to Yorktown 35-6 last Monday. The lone touchdown was on a 55-yard scamper by Wohl.
HALDANE 36, RYE NECK 12
Haldane QB Daniel Santos struck a chord that Coach Ryan McConville kept replaying time and time again as the senior signal caller rushed 17 times for 172 yards and two TDs while hitting on 9-of-16 passes for 137 yards and a 51-yard TD strike to Ryan Irwin. It was sweet music to the coach’s ears.
Blue Devil OLB Christian Pezzullo added nine tackles (five solos), and took a pair of fumbles to the house for a career day, including a 16-yarder and a 40-yard scoop and scoot.