Here’s my story from today’s Journal News with reaction to Section 1 canceling all non-playoff games, including the last week of varsity football:
Joe Letizia (left) had already rushed for 260 yards in the first half of last week’s win over Port Chester, breaking longstanding Rockland County scoring records and establishing himself as the county’s only player to ever break the 4,000-yard plateau. So by the time he had finally recovered from a bout of cramping in the third quarter, coach Andy DiDomenico told the Tappan Zee star to take the rest of the night off.
“He just said it wasn’t even worth it,” said Letizia, whose team won 41-6. “He thought I would have another game.”
So did everyone. But on Friday, amid protestations from disappointed communities, Section 1’s executive committee reiterated the decision to cancel all non-playoff games for the remainder of the season.
The decision wipes out the final week of varsity football for all but the 12 remaining playoff teams and cancels every modified, freshman and junior varsity event left this fall.
“Obviously, my entire team is very upset about it,” said Brady Condron, (right) who is a senior on the Byram Hills football team. “This is my third season of varsity football and I’ve seen two seniors classes play their last game. It was something very special for them. We didn’t have that last game, or the mentality of playing in that last game. We feel like that moment was robbed from us.”
That sentiment was shared in all reaches of Section 1. In Dutchess County, Arlington and Poughkeepsie high schools actively sought alternatives, such as scheduling remaining football games at their new lighted turf facilities, both for their schools and others.
After Arlington learned during the week Rye could not play this weekend, the school moved to schedule nearby R.C. Ketcham. It then hatched the idea of a Dutchess County jamboree next weekend that would include Poughkeepsie vs. John Jay-East Fishkill and donate proceeds from the gate and concessions to to the Hurricane Sandy relief effort.
“Losing this game in the manner that we did was without question one of the most disappointing events of my coaching career so far,” Arlington coach Dominick DeMatteo (left) said. “I couldn’t be more upset for my kids, especially my seniors. I don’t know what to say to them.”
Dumbfounded athletes and coaches at Dutchess schools actually practiced on Wednesday, the day Section 1 originally ruled to cancel all remaining non-playoff events. Both Arlington and Poughkeepsie had school in session and held workouts afterward, believing they would play either this week or next. Both DeMatteo and Poughkeepsie coach Ken Barger said they were stunned upon learning from media reports on Twitter that their season was over.
Athletes in communities hit harder by the storm kept in touch with one another through text message chains or Facebook groups. Many were abreast of plans to reschedule games midweek and were stunned the contests were canceled rather than postponed.
In an e-mail message to athletic directors on Wednesday, Section 1 executive director Jennifer Simmons cited daylight savings and the availability of facilities and fields for the cancellation of the games.
“I think everyone’s upset,” said Westlake lineman Tommy Hopkins (right), a four-year player committed to UConn. “A lot of us are seniors and will never play for Westlake again. We just wanted to play one more game together, but we’re not going to get that chance.”
Apparently, White Plains will. The Tigers were scheduled to play their Turkey Bowl against Stepinac at White Plains. According to Stepinac coach Mike O’Donnell, the game — also a non-playoff contest — is still on for Thanksgiving.
White Plains has played seven games this season. Section 1 teams that reach at least the championship game are allowed to play a maximum of nine.