Section 1 will host its final three championship games of the season this weekend at Mahopac. Here’s a look at 10 things to watch for during Saturday’s tripleheader:
• 1. Saturday night’s Class A final between Somers and Rye will pit the two winningest football coaches in Section 1 history head to head. Somers’ Tony DeMatteo is No. 1 by a considerable margin with 310 wins, but Rye’s Dino Garr is no slouch.
“It is special,” said Garr, who is No. 2 with 268 wins. “We have gone against each other in the regular season or even in the playoffs, but this is obviously a championship game. … It should be a great game.”
• 2. Of the three championship games, Somers-Rye is the only rematch. The teams met on Sept. 15 at Somers; Rye (9-0), the only undefeated team playing at Mahopac on Saturday, won 20-13.
• 3. When White Plains meets North Rockland Saturday afternoon in the Class AA championship, it will be the Tigers’ first appearance in a Section 1 football final since 1993, the first year of the state tournament. North Rockland won that game, 31-14, at Lincoln High School. The Red Raiders went on to claim their only state title in the tournament’s 20-year history.
• 4. Tuckahoe and Haldane will meet Saturday afternoon in the Class D final for the ninth straight season. In fact, the last time one of them failed to play for it all was in 2004, when Tuckahoe beat Blind Brook. The majority of the time, Tuckahoe and Haldane have been the only Section 1 football teams in Class D, this season included.
“It’s all a buildup for this moment,” Haldane coach Jeff Sniffen said. “It’s weird because we kind of have a one-game season.”
• 5. Despite being a perennial underdog, Haldane beat Tuckahoe in 2007 and 2011 and seemingly has a chance this time against the retooled Tigers.
“They always go into the game as the underdog or the stepchild, so to speak, but they always play us tough,” Tuckahoe coach John D’Arco said.
• 6. D’Arco believes this Tuckahoe team will prove better than its 4-4 record. The Tigers were the only team in Class C or D to face all four Class C playoff teams (Rye Neck, Woodlands, Bronxville and Dobbs Ferry) during the regular season.
“This has been my toughest schedule since I’ve been at Tuckahoe,” D’Arco said.
• 7. Rye will play without starting tackle Will Oberlander, who was ejected last weekend against Tappan Zee for allegedly throwing a punch. The ejection meant an automatic one-game suspension for the senior, further weakening an offensive line already beset by injuries.
The Garnets believe they have video evidence that Oberlander did not throw a punch, but there is no appeals process for suspensions in Section 1.
“It doesn’t make sense to me,” Garr said. “If you have visual evidence to show something wasn’t the case, don’t you think it should be looked at in the best interest of the kid?”
• 8. North Rockland’s defensive line may be the strongest unit at Mahopac Saturday. That group recorded eight sacks last week against Ketcham. Junior nose guard Eric Favors drew double and triple teams to free teammates.
“We’re going to have to limit them somehow to have success offensively,” White Plains coach Skip Stevens said.
• 9. Whoever wins the Class AA championship with be just one step from the Carrier Dome. Section 1 drew the rotating bye into the state semifinals this year, meaning the North Rockland-White Plains winner won’t play again until Saturday, Nov. 23.
• 10. Section 1’s most prolific passer this season has been Rye’s Andrew Livingston, who ranks first in both passing yards and touchdowns. But DeMatteo believes his quarterback, senior Tim Cousin, is the most overlooked.
“There’s always talk of two quarterbacks in Section 1,” DeMatteo said after last week’s semifinal win at Ossining, referencing Livingston and Ossining’s Justin Davidov. “Well, you need to start talking about my quarterback because he’s right there with them.”