Big weekend. Let’s get to it…
THE BIG 10 (OK, just 9)
Class AA semifinals
No. 5 Clarkstown North at No. 4 Mahopac, 7 p.m.: Well, if it’s anything like the last game, I expect to glance at my watch at some point around 9 tonight and see that both teams’ first-ever trip to the Class AA final still hangs in the balance. Considering they are 13-1 combined, neither North or Mahopac has really ignited the scoreboard this season, which also leads me to believe the margin will be thin. I don’t expect the winner to score more than three touchdowns. Key factors are the health of Dillon Addonizio and whether or not someone can make a big play on defense or special teams. A punt return or a blocked punt can determine the game. Hey, it worked for Mahopac last time. PREDICTION: Mahopac, 14-7.
Class AA semifinals
No. 3 Yorktown at No. 2 New Rochelle, 1:30 p.m.: I don’t know of a game this season where I simply expected the underdog to play competitively with the favorite and it led to so much grief from multiple people. But I know it’s because some of you haven’t seen Yorktown play, because, well, the ‘Huskers can really play. I expect them to move the ball with at least occasional success, even against the stout New Ro defense. But can they prevent the Huguenots from breaking a handful of big plays that could swing the outcome? Maybe not. I expect New Ro to produce an extra play or two to win and move one step closer to a fifth title. PREDICTION: New Rochelle, 21-13.
Class A semifinals
No. 2S Harrison at No. 1N Poughkeepsie, 1:30 p.m.: Matchups, matchups, matchups. This game is a great unknown. Last week, Harrison found a matchup that suited it against John Jay. You’d expect the Huskies to thrive against another spread offensive team in Poughkeepsie, but the two offenses are very different. Harrison will have to be much more successful at the point of attack against a team with a few stars up front. The Huskies’ running game is their key, but it can’t get started without strong blocking up front. They’ll also need to tackle on the perimeter, but what else is new against Poughkeepsie. It’s entirely possible, but after what happened in last week’s quarterfinals I can’t help but favor the Pioneers. PREDICTION: Poughkeepsie, 19-14.
No. 4N Somers at No. 2N Horace Greeley, 2 p.m.: The Tuskers are awfully tough to gauge after last week’s scintillating performance at Rye, which never really seemed like it was in the game. We haven’t discussed it much, but what a turnaround from last season when Somers dominated in the regular season before falling prey to a playoff upset. Now, the Tuskers, with just one returning starter, are on the verge of reaching the final when no one expected them to. They’ll have to tackle successfully against Justin Ciero and Gus Larramendi and force Ciero to throw. His weapons appear to have expanded in recent weeks, so it’s no guarantee that tactic would work. If it doesn’t, Greeley will move on forward. Heck, it may anyway. The Quakers’ size and experience is quite impressive. PREDICTION: Greeley, 27-14.
Class B semifinals
No. 3A Edgemont at No. 1A Croton-Harmon, 1:30 p.m.: This is a rematch of the season opener, won 21-0 by Croton. Edgemont never stood much of a chance in that one after Ed Jung went down with an ankle injury, but both Jung and the Panthers are back. Jung returned two weeks ago and Edgemont has now won five straight. But as much as the Panthers have improved, has Croton just leveled off? I don’t think so. The Tigers have won six of seven by three touchdowns or more, and last week’s domination of Ardsley was perhaps their most impressive win yet. Be it offense or defense, Croton is rolling. Why will it stop? PREDICTION: Croton, 28-14.
No. 2A Westlake at No. 1B Pelham, 1:30 p.m.: This is one of the more difficult picks of the playoffs yet. There is little to use to compare or contrast the teams outside of games against Ardsley and Pleasantville. Those common opponents would seem to favor Pelham, but Westlake, which doesn’t have the deepest roster, has finally returned to full health. The Wildcats may still have trouble scoring against a rugged Pelham team that prides itself on defense. But the Pelicans will need to move the ball one way or the other, and Ke’shaun Stallworth could thrive against an opposing D that has given up its share of big plays. Westlake will face a stiff challenge trying to run, so it may have to deploy Fabio Ricci and Mason Adams to win. PREDICTION: Pelham, 19-13.
Class C semifinals
No. 4 Valhalla at No. 1 Bronxville, 1:30 p.m.: With the playoffs underway, I’d expect Bronxville to take off. It was probably a frustrating (and limiting) regular season at times, but that’s over now, and the search for another Section 1 championship begins. The last time the Broncos met Valhalla in Week 1, they led 44-0 at halftime and won by the same score. Not much to add other than that. PREDICTION: Bronxville, 42-6.
No. 3 Dobbs Ferry at No. 2 Hastings, 1:30 p.m.: Another rematch, although one of a much different color. Hastings won 7-6 on Week 2 in a game that included plenty of movement between the 20s but not much scoring. With the margin having been so close, so much can change this time. The rivalry has been controlled the last two years by Hastings, but what could alter that more than Dobbs returning the favor when it mattered most. From what I saw back in September, the Eagles will need to have more success controlling the line of scrimmage against the bigger Yellow Jackets, led by Ali Marpet. They weren’t able to last time, but I suspect Dobbs to add a wrinkle or two and pull a semi-shocker. PREDICTION: Dobbs Ferry, 13-6.
St. Anthony’s at Iona Prep, 1:30 p.m.: What’s the biggest game in the state on Saturday? Could it be this one? Absolutely. St. Anthony’s brings sparkling credentials as the winner of eight of nine CHSFL championships and the respect as the state’s top program. But Iona Prep is red-hot, having won six straight, and, remarkably, has won two of the last three against the mighty Friars, both when it went on to capture the only AAA championship in program history. Those days are essentially over, but the Gaels have every right to believe. Not only are they healthy, they are thriving. Iona beat Xaverian 49-13 last week without three defensive starters, including MLB Michael Longo? They have really developed into a serious power on both sides of the ball. Even with Iona’s loss to Stepinac factored in, St. Anthony’s has outscored its opponent 269-92 while Iona’s margin reads 247-93. The gap has not been that wide. Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe not. PREDICTION: Iona Prep, 35-28.
Tappan Zee 24, Byram Hills 13
John Jay 28, Roosevelt 20
Nyack 20, Rye 14
White Plains 20, North Rockland 3
Carmel 21, Ramapo 6
Arlington 28, Clarkstown South 7
Fox Lane 20, John Jay-East Fishkill 13
Pearl River 21, Port Chester 12
Pawling 33, Yonkers 6
Woodlands 33, Albertus Magnus 22
Lourdes 34, Ardsley 14
Pleasantville 12, Putnam Valley 6
Brewster 27, Saunders 12
Fieldston 35, Harvey 13
Sacred Heart 34, Horace Mann 0
Lakeland 20, Spring Valley 13
Mount Vernon 19, Suffern 7
Ossining 34, Lincoln 13
Nanuet 20, Kennedy 13
Ketcham 22, Scarsdale 21
Peekskill 20, Blind Brook 12
Sleepy Hollow 33, Panas 14
Rye Neck 38, Lincoln Hall 21
Stepinac 42, St. John the Baptist 7
St. Luke’s 21, Hackley 12
Eastchester 21, Hen Hud 6
Rye Country Day 26, King 14
Irvington 20, Briarcliff 14
Mamaroneck 42, Gorton 14
Holy Cross 21, Mount St. Michael 12
Fordham Prep 35, Chaminade 14