Just two unbeaten teams remain in Section 1: Rye in Class A and Rye Neck in Class C. The only other unbeaten in the coverage area is Hackley. To say that has complicated the rankings would be an understatement.
I’ve hit the reset button a little bit and tried to focus on who is playing the best in recent weeks first, then taking their full-season resumes second.
With that in mind, let’s get to it…
(Photo: Ketcham’s Victor Hernandez runs against John Jay-East Fishkill. Photo by Darryl Bautista / The Poughkeepsie Journal)
1. Ketcham (6-1, Last week: 4) — Very impressive win by Ketcham over John Jay. The Indians average 34.5 points per game to lead Class AA. They might not have the best defense, but who right now can keep pace with them?
2. New Rochelle (5-2, Last week: 5)— The Huguenots have now won four straight since losing to Scarsdale in Week 3. I’ve already spoken to two coaches this week who consider them the favorite. I’m not sure yet (my predictions will be out Thursday), but this team is clearly on the upswing. Their streak includes wins over White Plains and North Rockland.
3. Iona Prep (3-4, Last week: NR) — I’m sure this will be popular, but the truth is, the Gaels have really found their rhythm. They’ve won three of four, including a pair of impressive wins since our last poll. I keep writing it, but clearly defining the lineup has been a big help in determining this team’s identity.
4. Stepinac (4-3, Last week: 1) — Stepinac still has an awful lot of talent, but it’s second half execution has been lacking in this year’s three losses. Defenses have played their third and fourth-and-shorts like they know what’s coming, causing the offense to stall multiple times in the red zone. The Crusaders get there, but aren’t quite finishing right now.
5. North Rockland (5-2, Last week: 3) — The Red Raiders survived a couple close calls that saw the offense struggle with mistakes. It finally did them in against New Rochelle, a game where North Rockland played its healthy starters and played to win. Having said that, I think they’ll be a tough out at home this week. Neither outcome would surprise me.
6. John Jay-East Fishkill (6-1, Last week: 2) — The slim margin of error John Jay had toed didn’t matter against Ketcham, which appeared to control the game throughout. Is John Jay ripe for an upset this week? Scarsdale has played well lately and just got back to full strength. The Raiders could be dangerous.
7. White Plains (5-1, Last week: 6) — The Tigers were idle last week, so they should be the most rested team in the Class AA playoffs. With the recent turmoil at Ramapo, they could win their first playoff game in 10 years on Friday night.
8. Rye (7-0, Last week: 7) — I’ve waited a few days to say this: Bury Rye at your own peril. The Rye-Harrison game means so much to the schools, and it meant everything this year to the Huskies after they missed the playoffs. Was Rye great? No. But don’t take that to mean the Garnets are overrated. Harrison prepared for this game all season. Yorktown won’t have that luxury this week.
9. Somers (6-1, Last week: 9) — Somers has now won five straight, but the buzz around the Tuskers is pretty quiet. They haven’t played one playoff team in that stretch, but what they’ve done has been impressive nonetheless, toying with a few solid opponents, beating all five by three touchdowns or more.
10. Scarsdale (5-2, Last week: NR) — The Raiders deserve some respect. They’ve now won five straight after losing to Mahopac and Ketcham to open the season. QB Giancarlo Cugini returned last week despite having suffered a torn ACL in the win over New Rochelle. He missed the last three games, but rehabbed and will play with the injury the remainder of the season. Tough kid—and he could help make the Raiders a tough out in the quarterfinals.
On the bubble: Yorktown (5-2), Sleepy Hollow (6-1).
Here are my class-by-class and small-school rankings:
SMALL SCHOOL -
Hackley is the new No. 1. Since the last poll, all the Hornets have done is wax Peru - a state-ranked Class B opponent—and breeze to an easy shutout victory against Irvington.
2. Rye Neck
6. Our Lady of Lourdes
7. Dobbs Ferry
CLASS AA — The teams have beat each other all year, but, right now, Ketcham and New Ro seem to be playing the best football. Each has two quality wins in the last three weeks.
2. New Rochelle
3. John Jay-EF
4. North Rockland
5. White Plains
7. Clarkstown South
CLASS A — Somers enters the playoffs as a strong No. 2 in my eyes. The Tuskers have played teams that played top teams teams—Spring Valley, Brewster, Beacon—and completely dominated the games.
4. Sleepy Hollow
5. John Jay
8. Tappan Zee
CLASS B — Absolutely wide open. And it’s a shame Class B only has a four-team playoff, because I think Putnam Valley and Irvington would’ve been scary as the No. 5 and 6 seeds.
2. Our Lady of Lourdes
6. Putnam Valley
CLASS C/D — I don’t remember a Class B tournament this wide open. You can almost say the same thing in C, although Rye Neck is the consensus—albeit slight—favorite.
1. Rye Neck
3. Dobbs Ferry
6. Albertus Magnus
9. Blind Brook
CHSFL/Private — Despite its poor start, no way Iona can stay behind Stepinac at this point. Gaels were clearly the better team last week.
1. Iona Prep
4. Rye Country Day