My second stop was at White Plains. I thought it started at 5 and I’d have time to pick up a sandwich on the way over from Nyack. Rest assured, I wolfed down the sandwich, but I missed the first 15 minutes because it started at 4.
Anyway, here’s a quick look at each of the five local teams and how they looked:
Let’s take ‘em in order, starting with Ketcham. No doubt the Indians were the best team at the scrimmage, both in terms of looks (big) and production (touchdowns). The line was massive and QB Kevin Duke, FB Tom Scianna and RB Elon Walters form a terrific backfield.
Ketcham started slow against White Plains, fumbling the ball three times. Duke was on the run, but Scianna’s power running finally helped the offense find a rhythm. Ketcham scored a couple touchdowns, including a long pass from Duke on the final play.
The Indians then really picked it up against Rye. They were especially dominant against Rye, using their superior size to open holes that Walters blasted through.
The player who impressed me the most all scrimmage was Scianna. He’s a third-year player who didn’t finish either of the last two seasons. If he’s around all year, he’ll be a problem for opponents. He’s bigger than most teams’ tackles.
Tom Donahoe was typically tight-lipped afterward, but his Indians were definitely competitive. They scrimmaged Truman, Yorktown and White Plains and didn’t either control the action or have it taken to them.
One thing Donahoe noted was that his team is further along than it was a year ago. With a huge, senior-laden roster, Mahopac has a vast amount of experience, led by senior captains Mike Simone, Justin Kelleher and Joe Castellitto. Kelleher, at two-way lineman, missed the scrimmage with an ankle injury but is expected back Week 1 for North Rockland. New QB Chris Rhue also showed great running ability.
The offense wasn’t flashy, but it moved the ball methodically against Yorktown and White Plains. The defense hit hard and showed good intensity – a little too much for some. Put it together, and I’d expect Mahopac to put out an improved product after a down year.
The afternoon was a rollercoaster for Rye. Great defense and decent offense against the likes of White Plains and Truman ended up with the Garnets getting run over by Ketcham.
In fairness, Ketcham was probably the worst matchup for Rye, which has oodles of skill talent but lost most of its size in the trenches. Outside of Andrew Aquillino, all the linemen are gone. It’s left a defense that is fast to the ball and physical, but lacks size and strength.
“We’re small and size, but we’re also small on experience,” Dino Garr said. “That’s going to be tough for us.”
Still, against the smaller fronts of Truman and White Plains, Rye was phenomenal on D, not allowing a touchdown against either. Junior Jake Teitler made a bunch of tackles from strong safety. Connor Murphy delivered big plays in the air, including an interception. And sophomore Tim DeGraw looked like a player at cornerback.
Another returning sophomore looked sharp at times: QB Andrew Livingston. He’s almost unnaturally cool under center, making throws under pressure as easy as if he’s in the living room tossing a ball into a chair. He has big hands, a big arm and great touch.
“I think it showed exactly who we are: We’re very young, so we can look good one minute and bad the next,” Garr said. “I think we’re getting better. We just need to have more reps and get better at practice, but that’s what every coach says. But we’re inexperienced. That shows on some plays and it doesn’t on others.”
The Tigers were missing four starters, including TE/DE Lukas Repetti and RB/DB Brandon Williams. Those are two of their most explosive players and the offense suffered because of their absence. White Plains struggled to move the ball against every team it faced. It’s best success came with running backs Ari Shammery and Chris Jordan, who continued to show the vision and footwork that made them standouts all summer.
Still, despite some strong running between the tackles, the Tigers definitely lacked gamebreakers. That’s a skill set they hope to get from Williams, when he, Repetti and others are cleared to scrimmage on Saturday.
“I’m not happy with how we looked offensively,” Skip Stevens said, stressing that his team would be more station-to-station. It’ll have to build early leads against a brutal schedule that includes Harrison, New Rochelle, North Rockland, Clarkstown North and Arlington, which will be no easy task.
As disappointed as Stevens was in the offense’s production, he was satisfied with the defense. Even without key players, it performed well. The D forced turnovers against Ketcham and put several hits on Duke, who threw his TD on the last play against second-stringers. It also held Rye without a score.
Cesar Cantore and Will Ahern were standouts on defense, along with returning safety Luke Puff. Ahern is a sophomore who will start at MLB.
No doubt, however, the star was lineman Robby Lorden. He sacked quarterbacks, forced fumbles, recovered fumbles – you name it. One of last year’s star’s, Mike Scotman, who’s headed to Cushing Academy on Monday for prep school, said Lorden was “an animal” last year. “And he’s still an animal,” Scotman said.
A team I have held high hopes for this offseason is Yorktown. The ‘Huskers seemingly have the goods to compete for a championship. They dropped to Class A. They have three superstars in Nick Mariano, Christian Dedvukaj and David Varian. And they’re well coached.
I was surprised to learn today just how young they are. Outside of those three players and FB/LB Connor Vercruysse, most of the starters from last year’s 5-4 team are gone.
Still, Yorktown was competitive with every team it faced. It moved the ball well and had success on defense. Neither side was spectacular, but, like Mahopac, neither side saw itself run over.
“They showed a very good attitude today,” Mike Rescigno said. “That was a big thing for me. They got off the bus and were ready to play.”
Not that Yorktown played it coy, but Rescigno certainly didn’t unveil the whole Picasso. Mariano, whose athleticism makes him perhaps the section’s best dual threat, spent the whole afternoon tethered to the pocket. His ability to run completely changes the dynamic of the ‘Huskers offense. Expect a heavy dose of it Week 1 against Somers.
Also, Vercruysse will be a major force this year. He played mostly as a linebacker as a sophomore, but he’ll be a factor in the backfield now, too. He recently committed to play lacrosse at Rutgers, giving Yorktown yet another Division I athlete in its backfield.
As long as Yorktown can develop its offensive and defensive lines and some halfbacks, I still expect the team to contend. Today didn’t change my mind.