Do you enjoy offenses that can score in seconds? Boy, do I have the game for you.
Rye and Cornwall will meet at noon on Saturday in a Class A state quarterfinal that should prove to be the weekend’s most entertaining game. Both teams feature a 2,000-yard passer with more than 20 touchdowns, and skill players capable of turing their passes into long touchdowns.
As you know, Cornwall has dominated Section 1 opponents for a while now. The Green Dragons have won four straight state quarterfinals, all by double figures: 31-21 vs. Roosevelt in 2009, 44-19 vs. Poughkeepsie in 2011, 34-13 vs. Somers in 2012 and 34-7 vs. Somers in 2013. (Here’s a recap of last year’s game.) The last Section 1 team to beat Cornwall was Nyack, which won a thriller, 24-21, in 2008.
The most recent Cornwall teams were fueled by dual-threat QB Mike White. His replacement, Jason Bailey, is not the runner White was, but he has been equally productive with his arm, throwing for 2,169 yards and 27 touchdowns this season. Both totals are higher than Rye’s Andrew Livingston, albeit on more attempts.
The other change for Cornwall has been a new coach. Marcus Hughes, who built the program, but left in March to coach and teach in California, was replaced by Mike Connolly, the son of Monroe-Woodbury coach Bernie Connolly and nephew of longtime Edgemont coach Brian Connolly. The younger Connolly was a varsity assistant at Monroe-Woodbury for seven years, including time as the defensive coordinator.
Here’s more on the game, including observations from both head coaches:
SCOUTING REPORT —
Class A state quarterfinal
Rye (9-1) vs. Cornwall (10-0)
When: Saturday, 12 p.m.
Where: Mahopac High School
Key players: Rye — Andrew Livingston (6-2, 190), Sr., QB; Tim DeGraw (5-10, 150), Sr., WR/DB; Chase Pratt (6-0, 200), Jr., TE/FB/LB. Cornwall — Jason Bailey (6-1, 185), Jr., QB; Kevin Gangemi (5-7, 150), Sr., RB/DB; Tyler Peddie (5-10, 170), Sr., WR/DB.
Outlook: Rye’s return from a six-year state-playoff hiatus won’t be easy. Cornwall has been a thorn in Section 1’s side, winning its last four state quarterfinals, including the last two over Somers by a combined 48 points. Bailey, a first-year starter, has actually thrown for more yards (2,169 to 2,095) and touchdowns (27 to 22) than Livingston, albeit on 33 more attempts. Cornwall’s first-team defense has been equally impressive, surrendering just three touchdowns all season. The Green Dragons’ season has included wins over CHSFL challenger Cardinal Hayes (34-6), which played Stepinac tough last week, Section 9 Class B champ Marlboro (20-7) and a 40-0 defeat of Port Jervis in the sectional final.
Up next: The winner will play at 8 p.m. on Nov. 21 at Dietz Stadium in the state semifinals. Section 2’s Queensbury and Section 10’s Massena play tonight at 7.
COACH SPEAK —
Rye coach Dino Garr on the matchup: “They’re very good. They’re outstanding.
They have a great quarterback. They have four outstanding receivers. They do everything very well. Defensively, they’ve only given up 21 points all year out of 54 points allowed. Their first-team defense averages less than five points per game allowed. I read their coach gives out a 12-page handout on every opponent, so they’re well-prepared. They’ve had a great program the last few years”
“What I see is I see us playing against each other. We’re very similar teams. I think they’re going to be able to simulate what we do very well. I think they can simulate what Andrew does, which is something most teams can’t do. I think they’ll do the same as us. Hopefully, it’ll be a great game.”
“They’ve very aggressive (on defense). They do a lot of stunts and blitzes. They come at you in all different directions. They test you. They’re very similar to what we do. They do a lot of things that we try to do on the defensive side of the ball. In that way, we’re mirror images of one another.”
Cornwall coach Mike Connolly on the matchup: “Rye looks like an extremely well-coached team, obviously one with an outstanding QB and wide receivers. I watched one game in person and a number of games on film. They look like pretty tough kids.”
(on the passing game) “It obviously presents a challenge. We’re going to do our best to matchup with their wide receivers. From what I’ve seen, their quarterback does not get rattled very much.”
(on his team) “The offense against Somers last year is almost identical. The defense I run, I don’t need big, slow defensive tackles, so it’s transformed some. The offense is the same (offensive) line as last year.”
(on Bailey) “He’s a great kid. As far as production goes, he’s right on par with Mike. In fact, he’s thrown more TD passes than Mike had at this point. We’ve had four receivers with 30 catches each. He’s done a nice job of spreading the ball.”