As I posted in the comments earlier, sorry for the delay here. Around 3 this afternoon I had to send in something pretty substantial for our football preview. So I fired up my laptop to send it in when, well, the laptop didn’t fire. After several reboots and a trip down the hill to see one of our tech guys, it turns out my laptop is deader than a charred steak.
Anyway, that whole ordeal left me computerless for a while today. I’m on my wife’s computer now, but I’m sorry for the delay.
Two quick items to start:
1. I didn’t see enough of Nyack to issue a full report. I missed the start of the scrimmage while my computer was in intensive care and returned to see the Indians on defense against Mahopac. They didn’t participate in the final four sessions. I’m going to have to find out more on them at a later date. Opinions I heard from other coaches were conflicting. (10960, we’d love your take…)
2. Credit the folks at White Plains for adhering to the heat index rule. By the second half of the scrimmage, the field was blanketed in shade and the temperature was manageable. I didn’t even see many cramps. The delay lasted about 90 minutes total and probably frustrated a lot of the coaches, fans and players on the scene, but I believe the rule has merit. Kudos to anyone who complies with it because I’m sure there are some who do not.
Now, here’s a look at each of the other five teams from today, in somewhat of an order of how they looked:
WHITE PLAINS – Little I saw today from the Tigers will sway me from continuing to lean very strongly toward picking them to reach the Class AA championship game. Their offense was extremely impressive today, featuring weapons at every position. QB Michael Trapp clearly has an excellent understanding of the offense after last season. You can see the confidence there. On the first play against Mahopac today, Trapp looked right, flicked a screen left to Odane Franklin, who took it to the house. Bang. Just like that. Trapp ran the play perfectly and didn’t rush it a beat.
The players around him are terrific – and their are so many to choose from. At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Franklin looks like an NFL receiver. In fact, I can’t name a player I know in the section that looks more like a football player. Skip Stevens told me today that Franklin was blessed physically, but that he works just as hard to harness his natural talent. And today he only really shined on offense, but he’s supposedly better on D. He has every chance to be one of the top juniors in the area this season.
So, yeah, I like Franklin. But is he even the team’s best receiver? Not according to Stevens. That’s senior Mike Walker, who’s back from injury and in top form. He won a jump ball against Harrison’s secondary in the final session to haul in a score, but that wasn’t the first great catch I’ve seen from Walker this summer. And senior running backs Terrelle Eaton and Khadrey Merot will be loads for opponents to tackle. Eaton weighs about 230 pounds and has a motor. Both he and Merot ripped off big runs to burn Mahopac and North Rockland today. And others filled in behind them and executed nice runs of their own.
The two questions that White Plains must still answer are the strength of its defense, which wasn’t as dominant today as its offense, and its depth on the offensive line. Stevens already faced injuries today that forced him to fiddle with the first-string offensive line. Injuries up front are something to watching, but I’d still grade the Tigers as the most impressive team I saw today.
KETCHAM – I know next-to-nothing about Ketcham, and what I found out from talking to coach Pat Keevins didn’t scream playoff contender. The Indians return five starters from last year but two were two-way starters. But youth had no effect on how they looked today. Ketcham played nearly as well overall as White Plains and actually may have outplayed the Tigers in their head-to-head meeting.
The Indians were very explosive offensive and aggressive on defense. If you read my comments on Twitter, you’d know their offense was feast or famine. Against Harrison, Ketcham runners were stuffed on about eight of the first 10 plays. And when I say stuffed, I mean wrapped up in gang tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage. But the other two plays? Both went for 40-yard touchdowns.
I was extremely impressed with Ketcham overall, especially after its effort against White Plains. I mentioned this to Keevins, but he felt the team still had progress to make because of its inconsistency. Much of its resulted because of the youth on the lines, but the skill players are something to behold. You already know about 1,000-yard rusher Aaron Morganstern. He has company in RB Earl Snead and SE Roland Archie. They were the ones who burned Harrison for long scores. The three players combined to torture North Rockland in a scrimmage Ketcham won pretty easily from what I observed.
What left Keevins worried was the competitiveness he expects from League AA-North. With Arlington growing every day, Mahopac and Carmel historically competitively and John Jay-East Fishkill improved, every game will be difficult.
“It was a good showing, but we still have a ton of work to do to compete with those guys,” Keevins said.
MAHOPAC – Overall, the Indians were about a wash with Harrison. Both had shining moments and both struggled at times for one reason or another. But I give Mahopac the edge because it played today without arguably its best player, Dillon Addonizio, who missed the scrimmage with an injury. (Breathe easy Mahopac fans: Addonizio is expected to play Week 1 vs. Yorktown.)
Much of the load fell onto returning QB T.J. Foley, who proved capable of carrying it. With his team running somewhat of a spread option, Foley played the Tim Tebow role, faking dives to his running back and dancing around left or right tackle. He had several long runs in scrimmages I saw against White Plains and Harrison, and later beat Harrison’s secondary on a fade for a touchdown.
In a nice moment, I saw Nyack coach John Castellano introduce himself to Victor DiFusco, the senior who volunteered to shift from the backfield to guard to help beef up Mahopac’s abnormally smallish offensive line. I imagine Castellano praised DiFusco, and I learned why. Mahopac coach Tom Donahoe told me DiFusco is the team’s second-best runner and would shift back into the backfield in the unlikely event that Addonizio couldn’t play against Yorktkown.
Mahopac’s problem will be its size and depth. The roster, which is in the 30s, is particularly troubling in League AA-North, which hosts five of the largest schools by enrollment in the section. But the players work hard and are tough. With decent line play and sustained health, the Indians can contend for the second playoff spot out of that league.
HARRISON – The Huskies were probably the most up and down of the teams at White Plains. Sophomore QB Vin Nicita connected on a couple long scoring passes to Alex Acompora, who flashed some pretty impressive running and receiving skills throughout the day. He hauled in scores against Ketcham and Mahopac from what I can remember. Harrison also looked strong running its option, with Tanner Knox punishing defenses 5 or 10 yards a pop and Nicita and Stephen Ricciardi gaining positive yards on the perimeter.
But neither the offense nor the defense showed much consistency. Their front 7 produced a number of tackles for loss and delivered several hits that left them hollering and pumping their arms. Big sophomore Charlie Credendino swallowed up his share of ball carriers. But every few play a Harrison mistake would lead to something costly, in the air and on the ground. The pass defense seemed particularly vulnerable.
To their credit, the coaches worked on this. They worked on defending teams in spread formations (White Plains added some spread to comply), which is experience they’ll need next week against Roosevelt.
As a side note that I mentioned on Twitter, Duke Alvora was in uniform and played. I didn’t speak to him or Art Troilo, but I’d say there’s a good chance he plays against Roosevelt.
NORTH ROCKLAND – Amazing to see the Red Raiders here in the fifth spot but there wasn’t even any debate. They struggled today, and when I asked Joe Casarella about it, he said, “That was about what I expected.”
You should know that North Rockland played today without its top two QBs. Returning starter Mike Lonergan sliced his hand while cutting a bagel and his backup suffered an arm injury and was out as well. Casarella expects Lonergan to play next week against New Rochelle, but, like with Addonizio, it’s no guarantee.
The lack of experience at quarterback limited what North Rockland could do offensively, to Casarella’s own admission. The Red Raiders basically ran between the tackles. He said both his quarterback inexperience and line play led to the limited offense.
As I said on Twitter, the consensus from a handful of coaches was: “It’s North Rockland.” The implication was obvious: the Red Raiders will be back near the top of Section 1 before season’s end. I’m not so sure. The only returning offensive or defensive lineman is nose guard Darius Favors. Casarella even moved tight end Gavin Maher (younger brother of Brett and Conor Maher) to tackle because his team lacks any measure of size. Their lines were some of the smallest – and maybe the smallest – at the scrimmage.
A few of you have discounted the play of Favors. I’m pretty sure Casarella doesn’t read this blog, but you would’ve thought he answered your criticisms talking about Favors today. He thought the senior provided one major bright spot today. “He dominated out there,” Casarella said. He also told me last week that Lou DiRienzo called Favors the best player on the field after last year’s Class AA title game. Not bad.
Anyway, North Rockland will be very difficult to judge this season. Unless one of the other four teams emerges this season in the Rockland league, the Red Raiders should find themselves near the top post-New Rochelle. But will they be vastly improved come playoff time?
Again, apologies for the late update. I’ll be around for most of the day tomorrow if you have additional questions about the scrimmages. I’m also taking suggestions for where to go on Saturday morning so fire away.