For 110 seniors, today’s Senior Bowl at Mahopac High School provided them an opportunity most of their classmates around Section 1 didn’t have. Scarsdale’s Andrew Verboys and Woodlands’ Da’Sean Downey were among those who took advantage of the second chance. They were named offensive and defensive MVPs, respectively, in South’s 20-9 victory over North.
“I felt great. My heart goes out to the seniors who didn’t get an opportunity to play their last game,” said Verboys, the Scarsdale quarterback. “Obviously, I think the hurricane was horrible thing, but I think we could have done a better job with the whole situation.”
Verboys rushed for two touchdowns, helping lead the South back from a 6-0 halftime deficit. Nyack’s Derwohn Bartley also rushed for a score.
“Anytime you play your last high school game you want to go out with a win,” Verboys said. “I’m honored to play with a group of special guys and I was happy to win it for them.”
The South defense held the North offense to just three field goals. Downey, a defensive end, was most disruptive, recording a game-high three sacks. Clarkstown North’s Billy DeLay had an interception.
“I was excited when i found out I was playing in the game, I was just excited and blessed to have this opportunity,” Downey said.
Of course, he was among the luckier members of Section 1’s senior class. Although the section wiped out every non-playoff and bowl game in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, Woodlands was among the teams still alive in the playoffs that saw their seasons continue.
Downey felt for the senior who didn’t have a chance to commemorate their final high school game.
“I feel they could have done a lot more for the seniors that didn’t play their last game,” Downey said.
“There were about 110 seniors that got the chance to play today,” said Irvington coach Mike Oliva, who served as the South’s head coach. “There were about 400 seniors at home who should have played.
“There isn’t any reason why we couldn’t have put our heads together and turn a negative into a positive. Personally, I coach at Irvington and we were ready to play Dobbs Ferry on Thanksgiving and we would have given all the proceeds to Hurricane Sandy relief funds. I know Arlington and John Jay-East Fishkill were going to do something like that. I really think that we dropped the ball and Section 1 dropped the ball with this one. I’m glad that these kids got to play today.”
Among the Senior Bowl standouts for North was Poughkeepsie’s D’Andre Smith. The electric quarterback was actually a terror on defense today. He had two interceptions and was named the North’s defensive MVP.
North actually shut out the South team in the first half. It held a 6-0 halftime lead thanks to a pair of field goals from Briarcliff’s Matt Pasternak. The kicker connected on his third field goal in the second half and was named his team’s offensive MVP.
“It felt great. For me, I was the only player on the team from my high school,” Pasternak said. “I feel horrible for the seniors that didn’t play their last game. I know my teammates felt they got it stolen from them, so I went out on the field and played for them.”
Thanks to my colleague Jermaine Dennis for the information on today’s Senior Bowl.