Mike Dougherty was in Kingston today and saw Rye Neck win the first state playoff game in program history, 47-6 over Burke Catholic. Here’s Mike’s story on the game:
KINGSTON — Picture the prototype of a quarterback. Now imagine the polar opposite of a statuesque presence who runs each play with natural grace.
Thomas Pipolo is that guy.
It would be a serious mistake to underestimate Rye Neck’s unflappable 5-foot-6 quarterback with the slingshot arm. He threw a trio of touchdowns Saturday, leading the Black Hats to a 47-6 win over Burke Catholic in a state Class C quarterfinal at Dietz Stadium.
Some people are born to lead, and Pipolo falls into that category.
“Thomas is a great asset,” said running back Dom Brescia (pictured right), who got loose for 108 yards and two long touchdowns. “He can throw the ball. He can kick the ball. He can do anything you ask. One time he stepped in at linebacker and did everything he needed to do.”
Pipolo also handles kickoffs and long snaps.
“He’s a great baseball player,” Black Hats coach Nick Ianello said. “He’s a great pianist, too. Athlete might be way down the list of what he is. Thomas Pipolo is just a special young man.”
And he’s got winning down to a science.
Rye Neck (10-0) is one win removed from the Carrier Dome and will be coming back this way next Saturday to face Section 2 champion Hoosic Falls in an 11 a.m. semifinal.
“My whole life — baseball and football — it’s always been this way,” said Pipolo, who was named offensive MVP after throwing for 149 yards. “It’s something that gives me an edge because I like to prove to people what I can do.”
After having a bye week to rest and recuperate, the Black Hats were a little concerned about how they might come out in this game. Turns out, there was nothing to worry about.
The first Rye Neck possession of the game lasted five plays.
Ryan Morningstar sliced through for 21 yards on the first play from scrimmage, and Pedro Cueto quickly matched that number. Brescia went 7 yards with his next carry, and Jakob Calvini moved the ball inside the red zone with a 5-yard run. It was surprisingly easy.
Brescia then found a gaping hole on first-and-10 from the 17 and waltzed into the end zone.
“It really pumped up our team,” Brescia said. “There was great blocking up front; I had a big hole. The run got the crowd in the game and got our feet under us. It really beats down the other team when you can do something like that, and that was our goal: To play hard-nosed football right from the beginning. They’re a good team and we didn’t take them for granted.”
The Eagles (9-2) fumbled away their next possession and Calvini made them pay with a 2-yard scoring run. In the second quarter, Pipolo lofted a perfect 6-yard touch pass that Morningstar grabbed in the end zone. He threw a 17-yard strike to Matt Garcia in the final seconds of the half to get the Black Hats in front 27-0.
“Matt really made an amazing catch,” Pipolo said. “To end the half like that, we knew we were clicking on all cylinders.”
• Here’s Peter’s video from the game: