This is the first of two championship previews tonight. Rye-Yorktown will publish in a little while.
Tuckahoe and Haldane will meet tomorrow afternoon in the Class D final for the 10th straight season. Judging by the results, Tuckahoe is still the favorite, but Haldane will be no pushover.
Here’s a look at the game, including thoughts from both head coaches:
SCOUTING REPORT —
Class D championship
No. 1 Tuckahoe (5-3) vs. No. 2 Haldane (4-4)
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Where: Mahopac High School
Key players: Tuckahoe — Anthony Castracucco (5-8, 165), Sr., QB/LB; Chris Corrado (5-8, 155), Jr., QB/RB/DB; Enoch Penney-Laryea (6-1, 200), Sr., RB/DE. Haldane — Matt Balducci (5-9, 195), Sr., RB/LB; Tyler Giachinta (6-1, 175), Sr., QB/DB; Ryan McCollum (6-0, 180), Sr., WR/DB.
Outlook: This is the 10th straight year thse two schools have played for the Class D title, most of them, like this year, by virtue of automatic berths as Section 1’s only two Class D teams. Tuckahoe has won seven of the nine matchups, with Haldane winning head-to-head in 2007 and 2011. Both teams took byes last week after faring well against all Class B and C opponents. (Neither played a Class D team all season.) Tuckahoe lost to Chester in last year’s state regional final, but the Tigers return plenty of talent from that team, including the versatile backfield of Castracucco (999 yards rushing) and Penney-Laryea (812). Haldane also has a strong core of seniors, led by Balducci (754 yards rushing), and played some of the section’s top Class C programs relatively tough. This should be a competitive game.
Up next: The winner will play the Section 9 Class D champ on at 3 p.m. on Sat., Nov. 15 at Dietz Stadium in the regional final. Chester and Livingston Manor meet for the Section 9 title tonight.
COACH SPEAK —
Tuckahoe coach John D’Arco: “We got Timmy Clark back this week. He was hurt in YMA game and he’s been out since. He’s a starting starting defensive end and offensive lineman, a two-year starter, and probably outside of Enoch (Penney-Laryea) and Anthony (Castracucco), he’s probably our best player. He had a high-ankle sprain and hasn’t played since. If we had Timmy against Liberty, we probably would’ve won the game.”
On his team: “I don’t want this to sound self-centered, but I think this is one of our best coaching jobs we’ve done. We started the season with 21 players. These kids have had a tremendous amount of perseverance and dedication. Not one kid walked away. I’m proud of them.
On Haldane: “They’re record really jumps out at you, but they’re not bad. They put a lot of points on the board. Their quarterback is going to give us trouble. He’s a pretty good athlete and we’re going to have to contain him.”
On the game: “I expect it to be a good game. I like our chances, but I think it’s going to be a good game. I think it’s going to be a close game.”
On his team’s experience: “We have 11 seniors. These guys were sophomores when we went to states. Although Anthony and Enoch stand out, we have a lot of guys who have been to the state playoffs before.”
More on his team’s season: “I could not ask for anything more from these kids. I told them today, two months ago we were fighting for helmets and mouthpieces. This week we’re fighting for a sectional championship. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
Haldane coach Ryan McConville: “I feel confident, to be honest. We played a very competitive schedule. That’s something that we’re always excited about. To be the best, you have to play the best. We played Woodlands. Rye Neck is a fantastic team, and then we played Dobbs Ferry, another very comp team. We played a great schedule, which, in my eyes, continues to test us and get us battle-ready for the championship.”
On his team’s explosive offense: “We’re trying to get the ball to our best athletes and let them make plays for us in the open field. It starts up front with our offensive line. They create big running lanes for Balducci and Giachinta. Our leading receiver is Ryan McCollum and we try to find ways to get him the ball down field.”
On Haldane’s philosophy: “We look to find the best matchup. We have a game plan. We stick to it and find our best matchups out there. We stick with what’s working.”
On being the head coach for his first sectional final: “It’s exciting. Every year we get to compete for the sectional championship. We set the bar high, and I’m looking forward to Saturday.”
On Tuckahoe: “They’re a very good football team — very physical, very athletic and very skilled as well. Their quarterback (Castracucco) and their running back (Penney-Laryea), those two are very good football players. They make a lot of plays for their football team. They do a great job on both sides of the football. They also play a very tough schedule that gets them ready for this game.”
On losing seven of the last nine Class D finals to Tuckahoe: “I think tuck is a very good football team, but we feel we’re a very good team as well. We want to come out on Saturday and compete for a section championship. We understand that not a lot of teams get this opportunity and we want to take advantage of that.”