Rick Carpiniello’s story on White Plains ending a long reign by New Rochelle and North Rockland by ending a long drought of its own:
MAHOPAC — Even at the pinnacle of their season and their careers, White Plains High’s football players were honest and modest.
When the 2013 season began, they did not expect to win the Section 1 Class AA championship, not coming off a 1-7 season.
But that title now belongs to the Tigers, their first since the tournament format began (in 1993) and their first of any kind since a 1979 bowl championship, after a tight and bruising 20-11 win over North Rockland before a big crowd at Mahopac High Saturday.
White Plains (8-1) gets a bye into the AA state semifinal Nov. 23 in Kingston, where it will meet either Section 2’s Christian Brothers Academy or Section 9’s Monroe-Woodbury.
“I’m going to be real,” White Plains tight end Lukas Repetti said. “Going into the season I was hoping for a .500 record. I definitely thought we were going to be better, but I didn’t expect this. This is amazing.”
“You’ve got to be a realist sometimes,” Tigers quarterback Cameron Crabbe said. “A 1-7 season, you just try to make the playoffs after that. Once you jump out to that 4-0 start like we did, you start to realize that this stuff could happen.”
It happened because White Plains won a field-position battle, and did so on plays like the Crabbe to Repetti 19-yard pass on third-and-7 after the Red Raiders cut it to 14-11. The 6-foot-5 Repetti, with a bad left shoulder, reached up with his right hand, juggled then caught the ball, and bulled to the North Rockland 1.
“That turned the game around for them,” Raiders coach Tom Lynch said.
North Rockland stood firm on four plays from the 1 — but White Plains got the ball back deep in North Rockland territory and Crabbe threw a short TD pass to Eddie Rios to put it away.
So White Plains became the first school other than North Rockland or New Rochelle to win the AA title since 1998, when Carmel won it. Tigers coach Skip Stevens was an assistant at Carmel that season. He is also best buds with Lynch, the two having grown up as coaches together at Clarkstown South in the late 1980s.
“I couldn’t lose to a nicer guy,” said Lynch, who won a championship in his first season as Raiders head coach in 2011, and was in the final last season. “He’s one of my best friends.”
The Tigers went up on the game’s first possession, an 80-yard drive finished with a 4-yard touchdown run by Chris Jordan. North Rockland came right back with a 27-yard field goal by Brandon Curtis. A second attempt in the second quarter was blocked, but Matt Berube’s 83-yard return was wiped out by a penalty.
With just 16 seconds left in the half, Crabbe (13-24 passing for 188 yards) scored from a yard out to make it 14-3. North Rockland cut it to 14-11 when Matt Caputo’s 65-yard run set up his 7-yard touchdown (he had 172 yards rushing).
Repetti finished with three catches for 60 yards, and Berube five for 92.
“What it means to the community is unbelievable,” Stevens said. “We had guys here from the last time they won a section championship. To come in and play well — we didn’t play great — but to play well and get a W, it’s unbelievable.”
• Here are Carp’s video interviews with coach Skip Stevens and seniors Lukas Repetti and Cameron Crabbe:
• My interview with White Plains senior Matt Berube:
• Here’s Frank Becerra’s video from the Class AA final: