I stopped at two scrimmages tonight starting with the six-team scrimmage at Ossining High School involving Ossining, Pearl River, Saunders, Greeley, Byram Hills and Beacon.
OSSINING (against Beacon and Byram Hills)
• Right off the bat it was apparent the impact HB Stephen Candelaria is going to have this season. He ran strong and fast throughout the day, specifically on one run against Byram Hills, a sweep in which he was able to bounce to the outside and find the end zone. But just as important as the return of Candelaria is how impressive his running mates looked alongside him. HB/LB Anthony Donadio and HB/LB Josh Almovodar both were able to gash the Beacon and Byram Hills front seven and get to the next level before being taken down. Looks like three capable backs, led by Canelaria, are starting to form for the Pride.
• QB Justin Davidov looked in control of the offense during his work against both teams. The first two series against Byram Hills, he led the Pride down the field for two scores, highlighted by a pretty waggle-wheel pass to a wide open Candeleria on their first play. Davidov was comfortable in the pocket and knew when to tuck it and run. The Pride also ran a few option plays where Davidov kept it himself including a play against Byram where he cut inside the crashing defensive end and scampered for more than 15 yards.
• Overall, from what I saw from Ossining’s defense, I was impressed. In the limited action I saw against Beacon, the Pride’s pass defense was airtight, led by [edit: Candelaria]. Numerous times it looked like Beacon WRs had space to make catches but the Ossining secondary had terrific closing speed. Against the run the Pride were solid, save for a few outside sweeps that Byram Hills was able to break.
BYRAM HILLS (against Beacon/Ossining)
• The strength of this Bobcats team was definitely the way they set up their motion sweeps by pounding FB Connor Morley up the gut. Big, and a fan of contact, Morley was able to put his head down and barrel his way to yardage. With Beacon and Ossining’s defense forced to respect the middle of the field, HB Brendan Rosen had a field day taking handoffs in motion and running around the end.
• The second play I saw the Bobcats run was a pass, but the majority of their day was spent running traps and sweeps from motion. Still, QB Mike DiCristofaro had time in the pocket to deliver, although it seemed like a facet of their offense that needs to improve.
• Defensively against Beacon, the Bobcats were impressive. They did have a breakdown when Beacon HB Rae’kwon Melvin took a pitch to the right and cut back the complete other way for a 40-yard touchdown. (In total, Melvin probably ran for more than 100 yards.)
• The Bobcats defense struggled against Ossining, allowing two scoring drives on the Pride’s first two possessions. Byram Hills coaches definitely let players hear it following their defensive portion of the scrimmage, but the way Ossining is structured it’s going to be hard for many teams to stop their ground attack.
PEARL RIVER (against Saunders/Greeley)
• I didn’t catch too much of the Pearl River offense against Greeley, but what stood out against Saunders was the pocket presence of QB Chris Van Houten. The junior gunslinger is exactly that with tremendous confidence in his line and a great spiral coming out of his hand.
• The Pirates — who plan to throw it more than 20 times a game this year — mostly threw against the Saunders D, including a perfect bullet on a post pattern that brought the Pirates to the goal line right before time was up. One other thing that I liked from the Pearl River offense was watching a screen pass to HB James Linnane, which went for six, develop. Picture-perfect.
• Defensively the Pirates had trouble stopping the running attack of Greeley, as the Quakers were able to move the ball with relative ease. One play that sticks out in my mind is a run from HB Cory Ekstrom up the gut where the Pirates defense just missed numerous tackles that allowed the Quaker HB to find the end zone from about 20 yards out.
• On a more somber note, the only lowlight of the day was the injury to HB Logan McIntyre, who suffered a pretty ugly ankle injury when several Greeley players brought him down — an unfortunate injury on a clean, hard football play. Play was suspended for a while as McIntyre was taken away on a stretcher. Needless to say, he was on a lot of the Pearl River’s players and coaches’ minds the rest of the way.
GREELEY and SAUNDERS
• The Quakers seem to be in a transition year, especially now with Bill Tribou gone and TIm Sullivan at the helm. Greeley did look impressive offensively at times with Ekstrom leading the way in their pistol formation against Saunders and Pearl River.
• Defensively the Quakers seemed to have some problems. Against Saunders, they struggled wrapping up and bringing down the Blue Devils.
• Saunders had some success through the air, specifically on a great deep ball from QB Kirstan Prenga that found RB Francisco Wilson King. Toward the end of their scrimmage against Pearl River though, their offensive line had a lot of trouble protecting Prenga.