Pleasantville might face the stiffest challenge of all the Section 1 teams in this week’s state quarterfinals. Marlboro is a program on the rise that has won three straight Section 9 titles and seemingly gotten better and better each time. Last year, they beat a big, strong Lourdes team that fashioned itself a state title contender. The Iron Dukes have been even more dominant this season, averaging roughly 10 more points per game.
The matchup will pit a dynamic offense against a stout defense bent on stopping it. The Panthers have allowed just one 100-yard rusher all season (Edgemont’s Chris Kim), but with Ryan Cary and Marsallis Faircloth, Marlboro will likely be their toughest challenge yet.
Class B state quarterfinal
Pleasantville (8-1) vs. Section 9’s Marlboro (10-0)
When: Saturday, 12 p.m.
Where: Mahopac High School
Key players: Pleasantville — Enrico Ruotolo (5-8, 215), Sr., FB/LB; Anthony Godino (5-10, 165), Sr., QB; Austin Greto (6-0, 190), Sr., TE/LB. Marlboro — Ryan Cary (5-10, 180), Sr., QB/DB; Ryan Greaven (6-1, 170), Jr., RB/LB; Marsallis Faircloth (6-1, 195), Sr., RB/DB.
Outlook: This is Pleasantville’s first-ever trip to the state playoffs and the Panthers will face an opponent with numbers almost impossible to believe. Marlboro, the three-time Section 9 champ, has averaged 41.4 points and 591.5 yards of offense per game. In his fourth season on the team but first as the quarterback, Cary had thrown for 1,923 yards and rushed for another 1,877. Faircloth has 1,577 yards rushing and is tied with Cary with 23 touchdowns. They will meet a Pleasantville defense that has surrendered just 72 points in nine games and has allowed just one 100-yard rusher all season (Edgemont’s Chris Kim). The Panthers will get an emotional lift from the return of senior captain Owen Reda (pictured lower right), who will play for the first time all season after tearing his ACL in the spring.
Next up: The winner will meet the winner of Section 2’s Schalmont and Section 7’s Beekmantown on Saturday, Nov. 23, at 3 p.m. at Dietz Stadium in the state semifinals.
Pleasantville coach Tony Becerra: “They’re very explosive. From what I gather, they’re a three-time Section 9 champ, undefeated, and their main weapons are their quarterback (Cary) and tailback (Faricloth). Their quarterback has a ton of yards and has scored a ton of touchdowns. We’ve seen speed, but not like this. I think (Cary) is the key to their whole offense. And their tailback is not that far behind.”
“I think from tackle to tackle, we match up OK. I think it’s just dealing with the speed. Lourdes was quick, but I think they have a lot more experience than Lourdes. The offense is much more wide open. It’s a lot of empty sets. They’re like a spread, read-option team.”
“Traveling to Mahopac vs. Kingston for a noon game makes it a lot easier. This time of year, you’re playing during the day instead of night that makes it a little easier. The week of rest, it’s a double-edged sword. You lose a little bit of momentum because you’re not playing, but it also gives you an extra week to rest some injuries.”
On Owen Reda’s return: “He’s been out all year. We needed to win that game in order to have him play his senior year. We lost him in spring. It was a preseason lacrosse injury. He tore his ACL. He got the clearance and got his practices in.”
“Marlboro has over 40 kids. They have a lot of one-way players, which is also a problem because they’re going to be fresh and they’re uptempo. Having Owen back can only help us.”
Marlboro coach Rich Ward: “They’re a great team coming out of Section 1. They have a nice controlling style of ofesne where they try to keep the ball away from you. They do sneak some passes I there so they kind of balanced. And they have an attacking defense.”
“I think we’e progressed over the last three years. We’ve been running a system that’s kind of balanced on offense and try to fit our offense to our kids’ needs. We’re going to try to take what the defense gives us. I know Pleasantville tries to attack and has some speed.”
“We do see that they like to attack and that their offense is a control style of offense, but their offense will also attack you downfield as well. I don’t think people give them enough credit for their passing game. We’re going to have to be balanced on defense as well.”
“We have a nice mix of kids who are newcomers and kids who had some experience of last year and kids who had some experience from the Croton-Harmon game (in the 2011 state quarterfinals). So we have a nice group of kids. All we’re trying to do is go 1-0. We want to thrive and survive another round.”