White Plains Rolls Past Yonkers Force in Season Opener

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Ben Finkel, who threw four touchdown passes, drops back to pass. Rob DiAntonio Photo

By Rob DiAntonio

White Plains football coach Mike Lindberg called the Tigers’ loss to the Yonkers Force last year their toughest setback of the season.

Fast forward to the 2019 season opener and White Plains got a chance at redemption. The Tigers made the most of it.

White Plains jumped out to a 22-0 halftime lead and cruised to a 34-7 win over the visiting Force last Friday night.

“It was huge for us because it was probably the worst game we played last year,” Lindberg said. “Just to get our momentum and confidence going and say, ‘Hey, wait a second. This (Yonkers) was a playoff team last year and now we’re giving it to them pretty good.’”

Senior running back Christian Young recorded a breakout performance with 178 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. His breakthrough, however, was no surprise to Lindberg.

“I was very impressed with him,” Lindberg said. “It was one of those things where it was a secret our team knew, that nobody else knew yet just because we’ve seen him in practice and how explosive he’s been all preseason. We all kind of expected it and I think everybody else finally got to see it.”

On the first play from scrimmage, Young jetted up the middle, then sprinted toward the sideline for a 41-yard gain to get the Tigers in business. The scamper set up a 5-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Ben Finkel to Caleb Gillen. The extra point was blocked.

“We’re very fast and we’re very explosive,” Lindberg said when asked if he thought Young’s run on the first play set the tone for the game. “Just to show the kids how right off the bat we can be so explosive, everybody’s mindset changes a little bit.”

Yonkers drove down into Tiger territory early in the second quarter, but got a big fourth-down stop when Daniel Ramirez broke up a pass in the end zone.

White Plains, which had 266 total yards of offense in the first half alone, then received an explosive 56-yard touchdown run by Young. A two-point conversion pass from Finkel to Eli Pierre gave the Tigers a 14-0 lead with 10:21 left until halftime.

Finkel found Chris McGuire on a 7-yard touchdown route late in the first half to send the Tigers into halftime with a 22-0 lead. Tim DuBois caught the two-point conversion pass from Finkel.

Finkel was 10 of 18 passing for 126 yards and threw four touchdown passes to three different receivers. He found Josiah Harris for touchdown passes twice in the second half.

Harris had seven catches for 104 yards. He also had six carries for 55 yards. On defense, Lindberg was very impressed with his performance, where he made four tackles for losses.

“Josiah Harris was amazing,” Lindberg said. “Every time they tried to spill the ball to the outside, he just ran them down. He was just a force. I actually think that their game plan, at one point, was just to try to run to the other side because he was doing such a great job.”

Overall, Lindberg was proud of the defensive effort, holding the Force to just one touchdown.

“We talked about that with Yonkers Force, it’s about focus and taking your keys,” he said. “I was super proud that they were able to do that. We played really disciplined on defense.”

White Plains welcomes the Yonkers Brave in Week 2 for a 6 p.m. home game on Friday, Sept. 13.

“The key for us will be to play fast, stay healthy and they’re a triple-option team so it’s going to be another defensive game,” Lindberg said. “Everyone needs to do their job and focus on their keys. Triple-option is assignment football so we need to be strong with our assignments. If we do that, we’ll be just fine on defense.”

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