OK, here’s a look at the final rankings from the preseason. There were certainly some hits and misses, although the Top 3 have remained my Top 3 all year. I think they earned it.
I’m sure there will be a few disagreements, the most vocal of which will be my choice of North Rockland over Somers for No. 4. In my opinion, although North Rockland certainly wasn’t flashy, its defense was the second best in the section. The Red Raiders also played the Class AA state champ tougher than any team in the state. They were the best tackling team I saw all season.
Surprisingly, the rest of the spots were pretty simple. I think the Top 8 are tough to argue. Obviously, the efforts of John Jay and Mahopac have to be respected. They both challenged New Rochelle into the fourth quarter.
I tried to look at each team’s complete resume and the competition that it compiled it against.
Now, give it a read, then let’s hear your thoughts.
1. New Rochelle (11-1) - Not until some point last Saturday afternoon did I think about the Huguenots as a state championship. Teams from the western region of the state had floundered in other state finals; Orchard Park was not at the level of its 2011 state champs; and New Ro had risen, particularly on offense. It resulted in one of the more stunning outcomes you’ll see in a state final. A team that at one point struggled to score touchdowns had come full circle, thoroughly dominating on the Carrier Dome turf. Forget about the state championship. After that performance, there’s simply no other choice for No. 1.
2. Iona Prep (8-2) - In some ways, the season was a great achievement. In others, a disappointment. Iona beat St. Anthony’s for the first time in four years and was dominant in eight of its games. But the Gaels simply couldn’t solve a tough Chaminade team. Twice. The Flyers spoiled what Iona players and fans hoped would be a championship season.
3. North Rockland (7-2) - Well, you’ve read part of my defense above. Other than their two losses to New Rochelle, the Red Raiders allowed a total of 38 points in seven games. They held six opponents to a touchdown or less. And no one — including New Rochelle, actually — made it harder to move the ball. You had to earn it to beat North Rockland, a few yards at a time.
4. Somers (10-1) - Sometimes you have to trust your judgement. In Somers’ case, it looked good from August and that never stopped. Past teams had strong records and fallen short come playoff time, but not this one. Be it against Harrison or Poughkeepsie or Sleepy, the Tuskers delivered. Their big, deep roster was built to survive the condensed Section 1 playoffs. They didn’t need to be lucky; they were just good.
5. Harrison (8-1) - Like the best Husky teams, this one had a dynamic running game, but the difference was the addition of a passing game that kept defenses off guard. That helped propel a team stocked with competitors to a comeback victory in one of the signature moments of their season, a 27-point comeback against John Jay. But Harrison showed its versatility against rival Rye, running the Garnets record winning streak into the ground. Poughkeepsie came close, but Harrison grabbed hold of that second spot in Class A.
6. Poughkeepsie (6-2) - The Pioneers drew an unfortunate playoff draw and, man, did they send a scare into Harrison. In the end, it was easy to forget Poughkeepsie had just won the championship a year before with almost an entirely different group. They were still so good, so dangerous. The defense wasn’t quite as strong as last year, but the offense was still perhaps the section’s most explosive. That’s tough to repeat two years in a row, but they did it.
7. John Jay-East Fishkill (5-3) - Like a mini-North Rockland, John Jay doesn’t have the most eye-popping resume. But it’s tough to ignore the fact the Patriots were perfect outside of three games against the Class AA finalists. Their shutout victory over Mahopac was actually the Indians’ most lopsided loss of the year.
8. Mahopac (5-3) - Again, Mahopac wasn’t the most explosive team, but the Indians were darn tough to score against. Just consider that they held an offense that scored 34 points (and could’ve scored 50) in the state final without a point. Although Mahopac missed the playoffs, it put a stamp on the season with a 28-0 victory over Clarkstown North to end the year.
9. Sleepy Hollow (8-2) - The championship game was something of a nightmare. It was the coldest, windiest night all season (trust me: I know) and Sleepy’s only chance (to throw for big yardage) simply wasn’t going to work. Still, the Headless Horsemen beat Rye, John Jay and Brewster, giving them more quality wins than every team left out of the rankings. They deserve this spot. No doubt.
10. Yorktown (6-2) - The ‘Huskers scored 248 points in their last seven games, averaging over 35 points per game. Their prolific offense put points on the board against everyone outside of Somers Week 1. They didn’t beat any playoff teams, but only lost to two of the very best in Somers and Poughkeepsie. The rest were all quality wins over the likes of Nyack, Ossining, Eastchester and John Jay, making them, in my mind, the best of the rest.
SMALL SCHOOL TOP 10 Hackley’s strong win over Rye Country Day vaults it to No. 2. Woodlands vs. Pleasantville or Nanuet is close, but I’d still favor the Falcons.
1. Our Lady of Lourdes
7. Rye Country Day
Here are the class-by-class rankings:
Class AA - There is a clear delineation between the top four, all of which were fantastic defensive teams. They established a big gap above the rest of the pack. Late-rising Ramapo climbed the rankings with a strong finish.
1. New Rochelle
2. North Rockland
3. John Jay-East Fishkill
5. Clarkstown North
8. Clarkstown South
Class A - Somers wins Section 1’s most competitive race for the top spot. Yorktown proved itself deserving of a playoff spot. The final two spots were really up for grabs.
4. Sleepy Hollow
7. John Jay
Class B - Although the top three are clear, the middle is muddled. Ardsley, Croton and Westlake all finished 1-1 vs. each other. Putnam Valley finished strong, winning five straight, but didn’t have a quality win to jump the three teams tied for fourth.
1. Our Lady of Lourdes
7. Putnam Valley
Class C/D - The champs proved they belonged on top, but Rye Neck surpassed preseason expectations to finish third.
3. Rye Neck
4. Dobbs Ferry
7. Albertus Magnus
Catholics/Privates - It was an historic season for Hackley, which earned a share of the league title for the first time in 39 years.
1. Iona Prep
4. Rye Country Day