I just took a few minutes to check out the schedule for the opening week of the season, which runs from Friday, Sept. 10, to Sunday, Sept. 12. In my time here it has to be one of the best opening weeks of the football season. Consider the following, all on Saturday the 11th…
Stepinac at Iona Prep, 1:30 p.m.: Stepinac hasn’t beaten Iona since 2002 but this very well could be the Crusaders’ year. Iona Prep has been hit hard by graduation, injuries, defections — you name it. Stepinac coach Mike O’Donnell admitted to me this afternoon: “We have a shot.” Senior captain Brian Byrnes went even further. “This is the year,” he said.
New Rochelle at North Rockland, 1:30 p.m.: Seeing this matchup you’d think it was the first week in November and the game was held at a neutral site. But this isn’t the Class AA final — not yet at least.
Nyack at Spring Valley, 1:30 p.m.: The work put in by coach Andrew Delva has really begun to pay off for Spring Valley, which could be poised to compete in a very difficult league. Nyack clearly has talent but will need time to watch it grow. Are the Indians ripe for an upset against a rival they have handled in recent years?
Edgemont at Croton-Harmon, 1:30 p.m.: Call me crazy, but this is a game I’m very interested in. Croton believes it can adjust moving up to Class B, yet it must open against a team many consider a serious contender to win it all. But Edgemont faces questions of its own. This will mark Matt Bernstein’s first game as head coach, and the program’s first without longtime coach Brian Connolly. Edgemont has championship aspirations but Bernstein won’t have an easy opener to get his feet wet.
Roosevelt at Harrison, 4:30 p.m.: Roosevelt returns as a defending champ on a mission, wanting to prove last year was no fluke. Harrison expects to compete for a championship as well after rebuilding in 2009. Even better, the game will open Harrison’s new home field.
Those are the five games in Week 1 that interest me the most. But others are important as well.
Class B contenders Kennedy and Pleasantville meet on Saturday. Fox Lane and Ossining step into Class AA with challenges against much bigger non-league opponents in Carmel and John Jay-East Fishkill, respectively. Lakeland visits Poughkeepsie and Rye visits Sleepy Hollow in games that include perhaps the favorites in each of Class A’s two leagues.
Because of the holiday there are even five games Sunday, including Nanuet’s first game without so many of the seniors that helped lead last year’s team to the Dome.
Anybody want to pitch other important games for Week 1? It seems like a pretty full slate.