This will be a massive prediction thread. I’ll be putting my knowledge on the line here, and, of course, many of you will disagree. But that’s the nature of predictions: For every person in agreement, there’s probably two wagging their fingers at the computer screen.
Let’s start with my predictions for the Class AA, A and B playoffs:
CLASS AA —
Overview: To me, this tournament is New Rochelle’s to lose. Based on what I’ve seen this season, New Ro’s stiffest test could come in a semifinal rematch against White Plains, but I like New Ro to survive it. I’ll be interested to see teams like Yorktown, Clarkstown North and Scarsdale try and play spoiler, but the biggest potential spoiler is Ketcham. I’ve felt that since I saw them at White Plains’ scrimmages in early September and I still believe that now. But Mahopac has been money in the fourth quarters, outscoring opponents 45-13. I think it’d be disrespectful to pick against the Indians considering the resolve they’ve shown.
Semifinal predictions: No. 2 New Rochelle over No. 6 White Plains; No. 1 Mahopac over No. 4 Clarkstown North.
Championship pick: No. 2 New Rochelle over No. 1 Mahopac. The Huguenots win their fifth straight Class AA title.
CLASS A —
Overview: This is the toughest class to predict, no question. The prevailing perception is that the competition comes from Class A’s overall balance, which is true. But what stumps me most is the total lack of crossover games. No matter what you say, you really don’t know which league is stronger, and you don’t know by how much. What could a person possibly base their opinion? There are no facts outside of Rye, Nyack, Harrison and Roosevelt’s dominance in the last decade. But this year? Nothing. … And yet, here I will try, knowing that my pick (and yours) to win the championship could be out in the first round. So my first thought is that Nyack, if at full health, enters as the South favorite. I would also select Poughkeepsie as the North favorite because it nearly beat the league’s other three playoff teams in three consecutive weeks on the road. I expect both to advance to the semis, along with Rye and Harrison. I don’t love Nyack’s draw, which is difficult, but you have to like the Indians in a semifinal at Rye. As for Poughkeepsie and Harrison, it’s pure speculation for the reasons I mentioned above.
Semifinal predictions: No. 1N Poughkeepsie over No. 2S Harrison; No. 3S Nyack over No. 1S Rye.
Championship pick: No. 3S Nyack over No. 1N Poughkeepsie. Behind a big offensive line, Nyack can grind its way to a second title in three years. Although the Indians’ pass D has been suspect, Poughkeepsie mostly passes close to the line of scrimmage. That’s now how Nyack will be beat.
CLASS B —
Overview: Does everyone know the term “go chalk,” as in, I expect this tournament to go chalk? If you don’t, it means all the top seeds will win. Well, I mention this because I expect a lot of you to pick Class B to “go chalk,” meaning the home team would win all quarterfinals and semis setting up a Croton-Pelham final. To those who pick that way, I can’t blame you. The tournament may unfold without any upsets. But I’d be surprised. Every tournament seems to feature an upset or two, and this could be another. I’m not sure where to expect it. Croton and Pelham look like favorites to advance, and Westlake’s loss last week to Ardsley was matched by Nanuet’s upset loss to Pearl River. So I’ll turn to the other game, where Edgemont has won four straight, has improved health-wise, and may be ready to earn its first significant win of the year.
Semifinal predictions: No. 1A Croton-Harmon over No. 3A Edgemont; No. 1B Pelham over No. 2A Westlake.
Championship pick: No. 1A Croton-Harmon over No. 1B Pelham. An impossible call at this point because of the lack of quality crossover games. Pelham has a stout defense and defense does win championships, but Croton has a more explosive offense to pair with a pretty strong D of its own.
On to this weekend. I’ll pick all 12 playoff games and the Bronxville-Tuckahoe game, and suggest everyone does the same. But that’s up to the Blogfather, 10960.
THE BIG 10 (yeah, it’s really 13)
No. 8 Ketcham at No. 1 Mahopac, 7 p.m.: As I said above, when the game grows tight, Mahopac appears to play better and better. Ketcham has also shown a tendency to fade late, and that would concern me if I were Pat Keevins. Even if his teams builds a lead tonight, it will need to prove it can maintain it. PREDICTION: Mahopac, 21-13.
No. 6 White Plains at No. 3 Yorktown, 7 p.m.: You may have heard me say this on tonight’s show, but here goes: I really liked the ‘Huskers as a potential spoiler because of their big-play ability. Brandon Trager, Ty Schuldt and Alex Terry have probably combined for more TDs of 50-plus yards than any trio in the section. But Terry is Yorktown’s top gamebreaker, and I don’t believe his team can break enough big plays against a talented White Plains team to overcome other deficiencies. PREDICTION: White Plains, 27-20.
No. 5 Scarsdale at No. 4 Clarkstown North, 7 p.m.: Solid, solid, solid. Three words that define the Rams. Just look at what their defense has done this year when necessary, producing big stops in wins over Clarkstown South and North Rockland. Scarsdale also proved succeptible to Yorktown’s speed and its defense will have to chase Tareek Turner and co. here. I expect Scarsdale to execute a couple big plays in the passing game, but not enough to beat the Rams. PREDICTION: Clarkstown North, 17-14.
No. 4N Somers at No. 1S Rye, 7 p.m.: Rye has some injuries to deal with after a competitive, physcial and emotional win over Harrison last week. But the Garnets have more talent and experience than the Tuskers, who will need to make a few spectacular plays to stay in the game. Chris Rios and C.J. Silva are two guys who have produced them the last two weeks, but I think Somers will need someone like that to return a kick or an INT for a score to win. PREDICTION: Rye, 28-17.
No. 3A Edgemont at No. 2B Lourdes, 6 p.m.: Back at full health, Edgemont will head north to Poughkeepsie as a dangerous opponent. The Panthers can move the ball at will. The question is how will they defend OLL star Jimmy Ryan, one of the most productive backs in the section. The simple answer is Edgemont will have to move the ball and eat clock. Again, this is something it can do. And well. PREDICTION: Edgemont, 28-21.
No. 7 North Rockland at No. 2 New Rochelle, 1:30 p.m.: I don’t like this rematch for North Rockland, which will play without the play who most befuddled New Ro last time, Terrell Smith. The wideout was an athlete who could outplay New Ro’s defenders, which is something North Rockland would have to do to compete because of the mismatch up front. Without Smith making plays in the passing game, I don’t see how the Red Raiders move the ball. New Ro thrived in the Sept. 12 meeting but couldn’t chase away a case of the fumbles. That shouldn’t be a problem tomorrow, at least not as much. PREDICTION: New Rochelle, 28-3.
No. 4S Roosevelt at No. 1N Poughkeepsie, 2 p.m.: I hate to base so much on one game, but Roosevelt’s loss to Eastchester last week didn’t bode well for it’s face off with Poughkeepsie. I talked to Mike Meade last night and he said that watching Poughkeepsie reminds him of watching his Indians, which is very true. But after watching both teams this year, I believe Poughkeepsie is better on defense, but can move the ball just as well as Roosevelt. PREDICTION: Poughkeepsie, 25-16.
No. 3S Nyack at No. 2N Horace Greeley, 2 p.m.: I’ve said it already, but this will be a match up determined by the big guys. Both teams feature a power running game, led by Nyack’s Donnie Davis and Greeley’s Justin Ciero, two of the top players in the section. The game could swing if either team can earn big-time production from its secondary options: Nyack with its perimeter running game or Greeley with its passing game. Ciero’s passing could be a factor since the Indians are not strong defending against the pass. But I still think it will hinge on which team performs better up front, and Nyack’s line is perhaps the biggest and best in Class A. PREDICTION: Nyack, 27-17.
No. 3N John Jay at No. 2S Harrison, 3 p.m.: To me, this game is all about whether Harrison climbs up off the canvas or not. I believe the Huskies are a very well-rounded team, regardless of the opponent. Their running game may be better than Greeley’s, and Greeley moved the ball with ease against John Jay a few weeks ago. Clearly, the Indians D has improved, but has it improved enough to contend with another power running game? So if Harrison can regroup, it should advance. PREDICTION: Harrison, 28-14.
No. 4B Ardsley at No. 1A Croton-Harmon, 1:30 p.m.: How about the Panthers, who improved from 0-8 to 3-3 and beat the No. 2 team in the B-A league last week? They have had some turnaround. If you missed tonight’s VI Chat, Pelham’s Pete Manos and Joe Miller both said Ardsley was the best team it faced all season. Well, after tomorrow, Ardsley may share the same opinion of Croton. It should be competitive for a while, but the Tigers have too much firepower. PREDICTION: Croton, 27-13.
No. 3B Nanuet at No. 2A Westlake, 2:30 p.m.: The defending Class B champ is tough to figure. Nanuet has appeared capable of contending for another title, but last week’s loss to Pearl River said otherwise. Give the Pirates credit, but the loss could very easily of sapped Nanuet of some confidence. You can say the same, of course, about Westlake, but the Wildcats are home and have the type of balanced offense that helps win in the playoffs. If you shut down the running game, they can throw, and vice versa. PREDICTION: Westlake, 20-13.
No. 4A Kennedy at No. 1B Pelham, 6:30 p.m.: I think this is a tough matchup for Kennedy. As I said tonight, the Gaels will likely struggle to move the ball against Pelham’s very tough defense. I also watched Kennedy struggle giving up big plays a few weeks back, and Ke’shaun Stallworth is a big-play guy. He will be difficult for Kennedy to contain. PREDICTION: Pelham, 26-7.
Bronxville at Tuckahoe, 1:30 p.m.: The unofficial title as LoHud’s best small-school team is on the line as Bronxville and Tuckahoe renew their crosstown rivalry. Bronxville beat the Tigers 40-0 last year, but, as Jeff Napolitano told me yesterday, “They’re a much better team this year.” Ya think? Consider that Bronxville’s impressive statistic — how much it had outscored opponents by — is not all that much different than Tuckahoe’s performance against the same six opponents. Bronxville outscored opponents 287-20 this year (avg./game 47.8-3.3). Tuckahoe has outscored its opponents 264-33 (avg./game 44-5.5). So what’s the real difference? Not much. Still, John D’Arco told me yesterday his team is a one or two-touchdown underdog, and I expect many of you would agree. Bronxville will benefit from the return of Elliot Bartsch and Jack Near, who is expected to play for the first time all season, but I actually expect Tuckahoe to keep the game close if it can avoid major mistakes early. Believe me: The Tigers badly wants to repay the Broncos for last year’s humiliating defeat. PREDICTION: Bronxville, 28-20.
Iona Prep 35, Xaverian 21
Mount St. Michael 20, Fordham Prep 14
Stepinac 28, Christ the King 14
Fox Lane 34, Lincoln 6
Arlington 28, Ossining 14
Mamaroneck 28, Ramapo 19
Clarkstown South 21, Suffern 13
Carmel 42, Gorton 6
Sleepy Hollow 26, Brewster 14
Putnam Valley 20, Briarcliff 14
John Jay-East Fishkill 17, Mount Vernon 8
Spring Valley 27, Hen Hud 13
Eastchester 21, Lakeland 10
Pleasantville 13, Irvington 7
Burke Catholic 29, Woodlands 22
Dover 19, Riverside 6
Pearl River 24, Byram Hills 10
Valhalla 26, Haldane 7
Dobbs Ferry 34, Lincoln Hall 0
Tappan Zee 20, Beacon 6
Albertus Magnus 27, Blind Brook 12
Pawling 28, Yonkers 15
Hastings 33, Rye Neck 13
Port Chester 22, Peekskill 6
Hackley 13, King 6
Rye Country Day 20, Hamden Hall 14
Sacred Heart 16, NYMA 7