Happy Sunday everyone. I just wanted to share a few links and discuss some leftover thoughts:
• Well, I think we found our evidence. League A-North and League B-A dominated their opposition handily. Both finished 3-1 in the quarterfinals, with Harrison (over John Jay) and Pelham (over Kennedy) able to eek out victories and survive. All in all, even factoring in those two wins, League A-North outscored the South 83-38 and B-A outscored B-B 108-63.
The domination was particularly significant in Class A, quite simply because the North teams quieted a very vocal chorus that sung the praises of its opposition all year, including me. And don’t forget impressive wins for Lakeland and Brewster over Eastchester and Sleepy, respective, in, again, games I did not expect them to win. All told, the North went 5-2 for the week.
• To me, the upset of the week goes to Somers for its thorough 35-14 victory over Rye. Forget about numbers and records, I did not expect the Tuskers to win based solely on what I had seen from both teams. Clearly, I erred, which tells me Somers is vastly improved and remains a dangerous team going forward.
Yes, Tony DeMatteo proved he is “The Master,” but I think Art Troilo deserves some love this week, too. Say what you want about his methods, but it struck me as quite the achievement that Harrison recovered off last week’s devastating loss and emerged with a 17-13 win over John Jay yesterday. The rebound process could not have been easy.
• Praise has been heaped on Pelham’s defense this year and for good reason, but it was Croton — yes, high-scoring Croton — that proved itself a physical force in Class A. Ardsley may have entered the playoffs. 500 but it beat Westlake and played Nanuet and Pelham very tough. But Croton’s defense produced a punishing nine-sack game where it only allowed two total yards in the first half. Based on the success of its league and its effort against Ardsley, Croton has cast itself as the definitive favorite in B.
• Pelham faced a difficult challenge in Kennedy, which struck for two huge plays that changed the complexion of the Pelicans’ closer-than-expected 21-14 win. But be forewarned: Matt Landis earned himself a game ball this week. The junior blocked a punt, blocked an extra point, returned a punt (unexpectedly) 49 yards to set up a score, and recovered a fumble on a punt. Lastly, his QB pressure and hit forced a Ke’shaun Stallworth interception that sealed the victory. It was without question one of the defensive/special teams performances of the year.
Now, Pelham’s semifinal won’t be simple by any means. Westlake shook off last week’s loss to Ardsley and defeated Nanuet 21-12 in a game it controlled the whole way behind Matt DeBiase.
• Each week, win or lose, Greeley QB Justin Ciero has made me feel awfully good about picking him as the only junior to make Super 11. He produced another willful effort yesterday in a 21-7 win against Nyack, and continue to prove he’s probably the best balance of running and throwing ability at quarterback in the section. Also, I don’t see the need to compare him with Donny Davis, but I will say it’s a shame Davis couldn’t return 100 percent after suffering turf toe Week 4 against Roosevelt. The senior is an incredible talent and played the game of the year against Rye. The Indians just weren’t the same without him rumbling along.
• Four words: Watch out New Rochelle. Based on what I saw Saturday in their 21-0 win, the sixth straight over struggling and hobbled North Rockland, the Huguenots and their supporters cannot go into this week’s game against Yorktown overconfident. The ‘Huskers are probably the bigger team, and the difference in athleticism is not as large a gap as many will believe. Justin Mabus, Brandon Trager and Ty Schuldt are all capable of producing huge plays, even against the New Rochelle defense. And if the Huguenots continue their fumble spell (they had two fumbles Saturday but only lost one), I’m not sure they’ll win.
Those who have already tabbed this a blow out are dead wrong. I like the Huguenots’ experience this deep in the playoffs (you have to), but Yorktown is good enough to beat New Rochelle. The ‘Huskers WILL punch a couple in the end zone, so New Ro will have to play more consistent offensively and protect the ball. Remember: In Friday’s paper, Yorktown told my colleague Jake Thomases it didn’t consider itself underdogs against White Plains. Now we have evidence that was legit: Yorktown 28, White Plains 21.
• So Iona Prep did it. The Gaels finished off their six games B.S.A. (Before St. Anthony’s) with six wins, the most recent a 49-13 wipeout of Xaverian. It sets up a “Who’s No. 1” clash with the mighty Friars at Iona Prep on Saturday at 1:30. One major key compared to season’s past has been Iona’s health. The two key offensive pieces, Tim Perley and Sidney Weston, have kept on their feet all season. And the defense has not only remained healthy but it’s remained active. CHSFL games are often higher scoring because of the complexity and explosiveness of the teams’ offenses, and Iona has strung together several quality outings that suggest its defense is up to about any task.
• Poor Stepinac. The Crusaders play an opponent on Saturday with a quarterback headed to Syracuse, a team at least one publication picked them to lose to, and still some of you find the need to belittle their 45-12 win over Christ the King. It is silly. CTK was the No. 2 team in the CHSFL AA and lost its only game to a team from Massachusetts, and Stepinac rolled up a 31-0 lead at halftime. That doesn’t mean the Royals failed; it means Stepinac succeeded. End of story. The Crusaders will now skate into the playoffs unbeaten and I don’t see anyone stopped them from winning the AA title.