Huguenots Head Coach Lou DiRienzo Outraged at Section 1 Playoff Format
New Rochelle Head Football Coach Lou DiRienzo sat in his office after beating White Plains High School, 42-6, in the Section 1 Qualifying Round disappointed in the first half his team played and incensed regarding the Section 1 Playoff format this year.
If anyone has the right to criticize the Section 1 Playoff format, it would be DiRienzo, who has held the position of Head Football Coach at New Rochelle High School for 25 years.
This year was the first in three that Section 1 organized its scheduling of games under the Geographic format. Many fans, coaches and players were pleased to once again have the opportunity to compete against neighboring cities and towns and renew old rivalries. But the questions that remained were in reference to the postseason playoff format.
First, are 16 teams too many to achieve postseason playoff status in Section 1 AA? Second, is using the power-point system within the geographic format conducive for the most competitive matchups?
Despite New Rochelle being undefeated at the end of the regular season at 6-0, they gained a number 2 seed, while Arlington High School was granted the number one seed with a regular season record of 5-0.
New Rochelle had just trounced White Plains, 43-6, the previous weekend to end the regular season. Therefore, when White Plains gained a number 15-seed, they had to prepare to play the same team the very next weekend that had just beaten them seven days earlier by 37 points. Of course, it is the luck of the draw but according to DiRienzo, something like this and other mismatches could have been avoided.
“I do not have a problem with the 16-team Playoffs but they (Section 1) went about it the wrong way,” commented DiRienzo. “Last year your schedule was based on a power-point system, so to rank the teams at the end of year and have number 1 play number 16 was fine. Unfortunately, this year we were in geographic leagues and they used the power-point system, so at the risk of getting myself in trouble, I do not think the powers-that-be knew what the (expletive!) they were doing,” furiously stated DiRienzo.
The longtime Head Coach of the Huguenots went on to explain, “The south and the west crossed over, they should have ranked those teams one through 10. The north and central crossed over, they should have been ranked one through 10. Therefore, number one from south/west should have played number eight from north/central etc.,” detailed DiRienzo. “I just do not know if there is enough concern or diligence with the powers-that-be to do this the right way and respect the student/athletes that are playing Section 1 Football,” ardently stated the longtime Huguenots Head Coach.
Remember this evaluation is coming from the Head Coach of a team that beat their opponent in the Qualifying Round, 42-6. Furthermore, the Huguenots are probably the favorite to win it all in Mahopac in the Section 1 Championship.
Nevertheless, the Huguenots’ lopsided victory over the Tigers in the Section 1 Qualifying Round was a different tale in the first half. Tigers Head Coach Mike Lindberg escorted his team to New Rochelle with all intentions of defeating the powerhouse Huguenots. The first half of the game was indicative of how well prepared his team was despite losing, 43-6, to the same opponent the previous weekend.
“It absolutely was a different game than last week. I tip my cap to Coach Lindberg and the White Plains players,” acknowledged DiRienzo. “Because coming back here after what happened last week and for those players to play with the heart and desire they played with, they can commend themselves, because I certainly commend them,” stated the opposing coach.Tigers linebacker Chris Schiavone intercepted a pass from Huguenots QB Jonathan Saddler and ran it back 65 yards for a touchdown to make the score 14-6, at the half. The Tigers seemed to utilize the recollection of the previous weekend as motivation and were battling the overpowering Huguenots on every play.
However, the momentum changed on the ensuing kickoff to start the second half. The Tigers had won the opening game coin toss and decided to receive, so it was the Huguenots turn to receive the kickoff to start the second half.
Huguenots’ Nashiem Hiland caught the ball on the 20-yard line and saw a hole; he left everybody behind him and sprinted 80 yards for a TD. “Going in at halftime Coach D told us that we had to pick up the tempo. I read my blocks and saw the hole and took it. The touchdown really lifted our spirits up and we played great after that,” reviewed Hiland.
New Rochelle put together a second half like the game they played the previous week. Myles Taylor caught a TD pass from Keion Hiland-Jones and Jordan Forrest ran for his second touchdown of the game, while Najee Bass also rushed for a score. Forrest also kicked six extra points in the game.
The Tigers played tough but they were just not strong enough for the best team in Section 1 AA. “I think we got tired and worn down. They are a big physical team and they imposed on us,” said Tigers Head Coach Lindberg. “It is almost the exact same score as last week but not exactly the same game. Our players play hard, they fought and you have to be proud of the way they fought,” expressed Lindberg.
The number two seeded Huguenots (7-0) move on to the Section 1 Quarterfinals and will host number seven-seeded Carmel High School next weekend. The Tigers (2-5) will travel to Mahopac High School to play a non-playoff crossover game, on Friday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m.