This is the second of three Section 1 championship game previews you’ll read today.
Saturday’s Class AA championship will mark a long-awaited return for White Plains, which hasn’t reached a sectional final since 1993. The Tigers lost that one to 31-14 at Lincoln High School. The opponent? North Rockland, which went on to win its only state championship in the system’s inaugural year.
You can take a stroll down memory lane at the bottom of the post. I’ve attached the game story written by Pete Caldara, who now covers the Yankees for the Bergen Record in New Jersey.
Class AA championship
No. 2A White Plains (7-1) vs. No. 2B North Rockland (7-2)
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Where: Mahopac High School
2013 meetings: None
Last meeting: North Rockland won 17-7 on Oct. 6, 2012
Key players: White Plains — Cameron Crabbe (6-1, 190), Sr., QB/DB; Lukas Repetti (6-5, 240), Sr., TE/DE; Chris Jordan (5-11, 200), Sr., RB/SS. North Rockland — Eric Favors (6-0, 230), Jr., G/NG; Matt Caputo (5-9, 155), Sr., RB/DB; Danny Noel (6-1, 215), Sr., RB/DE.
Outlook: This is a rematch of the last time White Plains reached the Section 1 championship. The Tigers lost to North Rockland in that 1993 game and the Red Raiders went on to win a state title. Both teams went on the road last week and looked more like sectional champs than they had all season. North Rockland rocked Ketcham 32-15, fueled by eight sacks. White Plains dominated John Jay-East Fishkill on both sides of the ball, winning 33-6. The balanced Tiger offense has received contributions in several areas with Crabbe as its orchestrator. They will be challenged with the section’s top defensive front. Favors demanded double and triple teams last week, allowing Noel, Mike Earlington and others to clean up. North Rockland’s offense avoided mistakes, allowing it to rack up a season-best 32 points.
Next up: The winner will receive a bye into the state semifinals. It will meet the winner of the state quarterfinal between the Section 2 (Shaker or CBA-Albany) and Section 9 (Monroe-Woodbury or Newburgh) Class AA champions at 7 p.m. on Nov. 23 at Dietz Stadium in Kingston.
White Plains coach Skip Stevens: “They have a very good defensive line. They run the all very well. I think they have a good quarterback. They have some receivers who can catch the ball. They’re very well-coached. Special teams are always sound as a bell. They’re very strong and they’re very physical up front.”
“We have to try our best to win the battle up front. How we do that, it might be different than last week. We might have to double Favors a little bit more. We might have to be more active with our hands and our feet because they’re so quick and so strong. We’re going to have to try to limit them somehow to have some success offensively.”
“I know they’ve been turning the ball over a lot this year, but they’ve been successful. They’ve been moving the ball downfield and turning it over at critical times. The offense definitely concerns me. I think they have a very good offense. They can run the ball, they can throw the ball and they do it out of a lot of different formations.”
“I thought we played our best overall game last week despite a couple special teams mistakes. I think we’re getting a little bit better every week, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Offensively, we’re pretty well-rounded. We can run it. We can throw it. Hopefully, it clicks again this week.”
North Rockland coach Tom Lynch: “Their quarterback, the running back, their receiver and their tight end, you really have to defend four people. Against John Jay, I thought they were much immproved. I think the key is stopping the quarterback.”
“The improvement from the New Rochelle game to the John Jay game was the whole discipline part. Against New Rochelle, they made some mistakes. This week they had really improved in that area.”
“This week (against Ketcham) we were able to tee off on Duke. This quarterback can run. They’ll attack you with him. They’ll run a lot of different stuff with him.”
“I think we’ve both improved as the season went on. Last year, New Ro got so much better as the year went on and they beat us pretty good in the championship game. I don’t think that’s going to happen this year. Both teams are improved, so it should be a good game.”
“I think our goal is going to be to score three (touchdowns) in order to win—to make it a good game where we can score three and they only score two. Anything else would be nice, but we’re not a breakaway team. Our key is to limit the big plays.”– Published: Nov. 8, 1993
Raiders bowl a victory
YONKERS, N.Y. - White Plains didn’t have Marcus Larkins to contend with much, but it had the rest of them.
Rasaan Wiley, Lidz Eugene and Matt DeVincenzo combined to carry the ball 31 times and North Rockland scored a 31-14 victory over the Tigers in the Section 1 Class A championship bowl game at Lincoln High.
It was 31 times where the Tigers didn’t have to think about Larkins, but still wound up with something else to think about.
“It’s great knowing that anybody in the whole backfield can gain 70 yards on any day, and the defense can’t key on what particular back,” said junior quarterback Jeff Becker.
The Raiders (9-0), over the first hurdle on the way toward a state championship – in this inaugural season of full state football playoffs – face Section 9 champ Middletown (7-2) on Friday at 8 p.m. at Kingston’s Dietz Stadium.
But North Rockland, winners of 10-of-11 post-season appearances, may have already eliminated its most challenging opponent in the way of the Syracuse Carrier Dome and the state final game Nov. 27.
“This was one of the better teams,” Raider coach Joe Casarella said.
And it was done without the show that a Larkins vs. Quincy Summers matchup might have been.
Larkins, still feeling the effects of a three-week-old separated shoulder, ran it only three times for 28 yards, but played in every series at defensive back.
Casarella called Larkins availability “questionable at all times. We ran him outside because we didn’t want him to take that direct hit up inside,” he said.
Summers was named back of the game and North Rockland’s Dennis O’Sullivan took home the lineman MVP plaque. Summers held his end up on the soft, muddy turf, running for 151 yards on 24 carries and a Tiger touchdown.
“There was a little pressure because we all heard about this great running back and we knew we had to move the ball,” said Eric Getkin, one of the Raider senior offensive lineman who helped make the backs’ day so much easier.
Summers got North Rockland’s complete attention midway through the second quarter, when he showed how frightening his breakaway style is with a 59-yard run. That set up his 5-yard TD find score, and the Raiders went from two touchdowns up to 14-8.
To get back, the Raiders did something that has seemed to happen in nearly every one of their 22 straight wins: They reached in and pulled out a big defensive play.
Chris Jackson – who had caught a diving-into-the-end zone 27-yard TD pass from Becker for the Raiders’ first score – got a hand on Summers’ punt from the end zone, setting the Raiders up at the Tiger 17 with 1:50 remaining in the half.
“I had to run between the tackle and guard (left side) and try and block the punt,” said Jackson, 17, and a senior of his second punt block in the last three games. “I just tipped it with my right hand.”
Three plays later, Wiley ran 13 yards off left tackle and into the end zone standing, and then Becker hit Jackson with a 2-point conversion pass that made it 22-8. There was still 1:01 left on the clock.
“We know we have to take advantage when we have the ball there,” said “We knew we had to put it in and we did.”
The Raiders refused to think about a field goal there. Keith Bookstein would eventually kick a 40-yarder in the third quarter to make it 25-14, but the Raider mindset remained rigid. “We went in looking to run the ball and pound it up inside,” said Becker, admitting as a few teammates did, “we knew we could score some points, but we didn’t feel we could score as many as we did today.”
Summers might have scared them into it, charging out like he did at the start of the second half and carrying six straight times to the Raider 11 before QB John Woodbury took it from there on a bootleg fake that left every Raider – no exaggeration – up at the line of scrimmage. That made it 22-14.
But the Raiders used up most of the rest of the quarter on the field goal drive, and made White Plains punt on four plays after that.
Then the Raiders played ball control again, culminating in Becker’s two-yard TD run with 8:53 left.
Forced to pass, not a Tiger strength, Woodbury was quickly picked off by Rich Ciabattoni with 6:10 remaining, effectively finishing White Plains there, at the Raider 19-yard line.
Looking back, Summers – who has some big schools chasing him – resigned that it was over. “I’m not down about it,” he said. “The team shouldn’t be down. We came out confident but when we scored (North Rockland) came back. That’s what a good team does.”
Eugene had a Summers-like moment in the second quarter, sprinting on an inside handoff and going 55 yards for the touchdown that put North Rockland ahead 14-0.
But Wiley would get the most Raider rushing calls, 19 in all. He went for 87 yards and Eugene went for 80.
“That was a lot of pressure,” Wiley, a senior, said,” but we’re ready for it. I’ve been ready for it all year.”