The Section 1 football playoffs begin this weekend and will continue through the championship games on Nov. 1 and 8 at Mahopac High School.
Here’s a breakdown of the teams, players and coaches you need to know, plus this week’s complete schedule:
The favorite: New Rochelle. The Huguenots are undefeated (7-0) and beat the top seed from Class AA’s other league, John Jay (albeit in overtime) and the other three playoff teams in its league. Thing is, the Huguenots have played even better in recent weeks. My only question is the health of Jonathan Forrest, who hopes to return this week from a Grade 1 MCL sprain.
The contender: John Jay-East Fishkill. New Rochelle has been susceptible to the pass in past years, and John Jay may boast Class AA’s best passer in junior Ryan Schumacher. If anyone beats New Ro this postseason, it’s the Patriots.
The dark horse: Scarsdale. Remember, when the Raiders were 100 percent, they beat Horace Greeley and North Rockland, and they also beat New Rochelle as recently as last year. Their confidence certainly won’t be hurting, not after rallying from 24 points down to beat Rye last week. Senior star James Nicholas is among several key players expected to be healthy this week.
The underdog: Mamaroneck. Mamaroneck has not had a football team this good in a decade, maybe longer, and it boasts high-end talent. Who knows? Those playmakers could be the recipe for an upset or two.
Master strategist: Lou DiRienzo, New Rochelle. His teams always seem to get better and better. This one has been no exception. Case in point: The Huguenots jumped out to a quick four-touchdown lead last Friday night at Carmel without Forrest, Section 1’s top back.
Unheralded star: Andrew Sommer, Mamaroneck. On a team that is blessed with skill players but thin up front, Sommer anchors both the offensive line and defense with aplomb.
Big-play threat: Joe Lisowski, John Jay. As a runner, receiver and return man, Lisowski is one of the most dangerous players with the ball in the section.
Defensive stud: Eric Favors, North Rockland, and Corey Holder, New Rochelle. Whether by strength or speed, these two defensive linemen are terrors in the backfield. Both are lightning off the ball.
X-factor: Forrest’s knee. With Forrest running the ball well, New Rochelle has a ceiling no one else can touch.
Forecast: Just about every underdog this week could state its case for an upset, from a Mahopac team that has played New Rochelle tough for years to Horace Greeley and star QB Cameron Ciero giving John Jay fits. Still, the section is New Rochelle’s to lose.
Semifinals: John Jay over Mamaroneck. New Rochelle over Arlington.
Championship: New Rochelle over John Jay.
MVP candidates: Jonathan Forrest, New Rochelle; Austin Greene, Arlington; Marquez Jackson-Allen, Mamaroneck; James Nicholas, Scarsdale; Ryan Schumacher, John Jay-East Fishkill.
The favorite: Yorktown. The Huskers earned this label, beating Somers by two touchdowns earlier this season. They have seen some key players hobbled by injuries, but their size and depth are part of what set them apart.
The contender: Somers. The two-time defending champ should be right there in the end. The Tuskers know how to win and have been very good in big games over the last two years. Their defense, in particular, seems to deliver when needed. This year, it may need to because both Yorktown and Rye (and maybe John Jay) are better offensively.
The dark horse: John Jay. Sure, the Indians have three losses, but they were right there with Somers. Against Yorktown, they played without their starting running back, which resulted in star QB Ryan Lee spending the entire game out of position. If Danny Skluth returns healthy and Lee back at quarterback, John Jay will be dangerous.
The underdog: Rye. Last year’s favorite is not necessarily a strong favorite to reach the final. The Rye defense has given up plenty of points, but this team is well-suited to a high-scoring game. No team strikes more quickly than Rye thanks to record-setting QB Andrew Livingston and his record-setting target Tim DeGraw.
Master strategist: Tony DeMatteo, Somers. Last year, Section 1’s all-time winningest coach and his staff had terrific game plans to slow down Livingston and Ossining’s Justin Davidov.
Unheralded star: Tommy Castelluccio, Somers. The Tuskers lost something up front from their last two championship teams, but Castelluccio has turned up his game. He is a tackle machine along their defensive line.
Big-play threat: Tim DeGraw, Rye. The senior is in line for a second straight 1,000-yard receiving season. That says all you need to know.
Defensive stud: Adonis Alcime, Nyack. Some linebackers are instinctive. Alcime’s instinct is to run to and through ball carriers. He does it often and with tremendous force.
X-factor: Pass defense. Whether it’s Rye, John Jay, Yorktown, Sleepy Hollow or Panas, Class A teams have thrown it more than ever. The team that survives with three wins will be able to generate a pass rush, defend down field or both.
Forecast: Two rematches seem inevitable — a replay of last year’s final, Rye-Somers, in the semis and a rematch of Yorktown-Somers for the trophy.
Semifinals: Yorktown over John Jay. Somers over Rye.
Championship: Yorktown over Somers.
MVP candidates: Tim Fazzinga and Matt Morgante, Somers; Ryan Lee, John Jay; Andrew Livingston, Rye; Nick Santavicca, Yorktown.
The favorite: Ardsley. It was often chaotic and dramatic, but the Panthers finished the regular season 7-0, beating defending champ Pleasantville and once-unbeaten Lourdes in the process. They have the best blend of run and pass among all the contenders.
The contender: Our Lady of Lourdes. Remember: Lourdes beat top-seeded Nanuet and defending champ Pleasantville soundly. Was its close, last-second loss at home to Ardsley just a blip?
The dark horse: Nanuet. After that opening week loss to Lourdes, the Golden Knights went about their business and earned a No. 1 seed that many believed belonged to Ardsley. They still have something to prove, and may have the defense to stop the Ardsley-Lourdes winner.
The underdog: Pleasantville: With losses to the top three seeds, last year’s winner is the undisputed underdog. But the Panthers played both Nanuet and Ardsley to within one score. The gap between them and the top dogs is narrower than it seems.
Master strategist: Colin Maier, Ardsley. Maier has turned a Section 1 doormat into one of just three remanning unbeatens. And it didn’t happen overnight.
Unheralded star: Adonis Carrasco, Ardsley. It’s about time the game-breaker senior got his just due. He has 1,131 yards of offense and nine touchdowns.
Big-play threat: Dean Rotger, Lourdes. The junior QB, in his third year as a starter, can be deadly with both his arm and his legs.
Defensive stud: Jordan Landsman and Brian Syracuse, Nanuet. At 6-foot-2, 270 pounds and 6-4, 265, respectively, these two can smother a running game.
X-factor: Execution. These four teams are close enough that one missed assignment could jeopardize a shot at the championship.
Forecast: Most consider the Ardsley-Lourdes winner a favorite, but don’t be surprised if Nanuet proves how much it has improved.
Championship: Ardsley over Nanuet.
MVP candidates: Connor Breit, Nanuet; Adonis Carrasco and Joe DeGuardia, Ardsley; Brandon Castro, Pleasantville; Dean Rotiger, Lourdes.
The favorite: Bronxville. The Broncos were a perfects 6-0 in Section 1 play and beat the other three playoff teams by a combined score of 93-39.
The contender: Rye Neck. Sure, the Bronxville game got away from them, but the Panthers seem to have redefined their offense behind new QB Jake Sevean and a heavy dose of Dom Brescia. A rematch could be different.
The dark horse: Dobbs Ferry. The Eagles, who have averaged 40 points per game in their five wins, can score. They just need to prove they can do it against Bronxville and Rye Neck.
The underdog: Woodlands. The Falcons won just two games this year and were 0-3 against all other playoff opponents. Competing for this title will be a tall order.
Master strategist: Nick Ianello, Rye Neck. Give Ianello credit for reworking the offense after losing to Bronxville. And, remember: His team has lost just three games in three years.
Unheralded star: Jabril Kapadia, Dobbs Ferry. The junior is a threat to score in every phase of the game and the next star in Class C.
Big-play threat: Charlie Tarry, Bronxville. At 6-foot-3, the Princeton-bound lacrosse star is a serious deep threat. He has eight touchdowns and has averaged over 17 yards per catch.
Defensive stud: Steven Ircha, Bronxville: The Penn-bound lineman is a defensive terror. He has 12 sacks, has forced four fumbles and leads the Broncos with a whopping 78 solo tackles.
X-factor: Dom Brescia’s workload. Can the Rye Neck senior possibly keep this up? He has rushed for 1,408 yards in six games, but has been awfully busy, compiling 88 carries the last three games. If he can sustain it, Brescia could lead the Panthers to another title.
Forecast: Expect Bronxville and Rye Neck to advance and play a classic final at Mahopac.
Championship: Bronxville over Rye Neck.
MVP candidates: Steven Ircha and Charlie Tarry, Bronxville; Dom Brescia and Jake Sevean, Rye Neck.?
Friday’s games —
Section 1 playoffs
Class AA quarterfinals
No. 3B North Rockland at No. 2A Arlington, 7 p.m.
Class A quarterfinals
No. 4B Nyack at No. 1A Yorktown, 7 p.m.
No. 4A Beacon at No. 1B Rye, 7 p.m.
No. 3B Panas at No. 2A Somers, 7 p.m.
Byram Hills at White Plains, 4:30 p.m.
Mount Vernon at Fox Lane, 6:30 p.m.
Ossining at Ramapo at Torne Valley Field, 7 p.m.
Brewster at Lakeland, 7 p.m.
Ketcham at Tappan Zee, 7 p.m.
Carmel at Clarkstown South, 7 p.m.
Clarkstown North at Suffern, 7 p.m.
Pelham at Blind Brook, 7 p.m.
Saturday’s games —
Section 1 playoffs
Class AA quarterfinals
No. 4A Mahopac at No. 1B New Rochelle, 2 p.m.
No. 3A Mamaroneck at No. 2B Scarsdale, 2:30 p.m.
No. 4B Horace Greeley at No. 1A John Jay-East Fishkill, 6:30 p.m.
Class A quarterfinals
No. 3A John Jay at No. 2B Sleepy Hollow, 1:30 p.m.
Class B semifinals
No. 3 Our Lady of Lourdes at No. 2 Ardsley, 1 p.m.
No. 4 Pleasantville at No. 1 Nanuet, 1:30 p.m.
Class C semifinals
No. 3 Dobbs Ferry at No. 2 Rye Neck, 1 p.m.
No. 4 Woodlands at No. 1 Bronxville, 2:45 p.m.
Hudson River Football League
No. 4 Roosevelt at No. 1 Lincoln, 1:30 p.m.
No. 3 Saunders at No. 2 Gorton, 1:30 p.m.
Pennington at Hackley, 1 p.m.
Stepinac at Chaminade, 1:30 p.m.
Peekskill vs. Riverside at Saudners High School, 1:30 p.m.
Palisade Prep vs. Yonkers at Roosevelt High School, 1:30 p.m.
Edgemont at Yonkers Montessori, 1:30 p.m.
Croton-Harmon at Haldane, 2 p.m.
Albertus Magnus at Westlake, 2 p.m.
Harrison at Pearl River, 2 p.m.
Harvey at Newark Academy, 2 p.m.
Hen Hud at Spring Valley, 2:30 p.m.
Briarcliff/Hamilton at Tuckahoe, 2:30 p.m.
Putnam Valley at Irvington, 3 p.m.
Valhalla at Hastings, 3 p.m.
Kennedy at Christ the King, 4 p.m.
Rye Country Day at Hamden Hall, 6:30 p.m.
Port Chester at Eastchester, 7 p.m.
Sunday’s game —
Iona Prep at Holy Cross, 1:30 p.m.