Author Archives: Mike Smith

About Mike Smith

Mike Smith has been with Hometown Media Group since 2007, serving as the company’s Sports Editor. Mike has been commended for his work by the New York Press Association, winning awards in 2008 for “Best Sports Feature” and again in 2009 as part of a team that put together “The Game,” a breakdown of the Harrison-Rye football rivalry, which won for “Best Special Section.” His weekly column, “Live Mike,” offers his unique insights into a broad range of topics in the sports world. He resides in Eastchester, N.Y. and spends most of his free time serving as the player-manager for a competitive men’s baseball team in New York City. Reach Mike at 914-653-1000 x22 or sports@hometwn.com; follow him on Twitter @LiveMike_Sports.

HarrisonHighSchool4

Harrison mourns death of high school student

Harrison junior Andrew Gurgitano, 16, died on Saturday after suffering a sudden stroke. Harrison High School opened its doors to the community over the weekend to help students and teachers work through the grieving process. Photo courtesy gofundme.com

Harrison junior Andrew Gurgitano, 16, died on Saturday after suffering a sudden stroke. Harrison High School opened its doors to the community over the weekend to help students and teachers work through the grieving process. Photo courtesy gofundme.com

By MIKE SMITH
Harrison is reeling this week after another tragic death hit the community hard.

Harrison High School junior Andrew Gurgitano, 16, died in his home on Saturday, Nov. 8, after suffering what the Westchester County Medical Examiner’s Office has determined to be a rare spontaneous stroke.

On Saturday and Sunday, Harrison High School again opened its doors to a community that has twice been hit by tragic deaths in the last two weeks. Social workers, grief counselors, administrators, teachers and coaches were all on hand to offer support to the student body.

“We were there on Saturday and Sunday if the kids wanted to come in,” said Varsity Baseball coach Marco DiRuocco, who coached Gurgitano last year. “It was a place they could come together and talk with their peers and friends alike, it provided some comfort, a safe place, someone to talk to.”

According to DiRuocco, the well-liked Gurgitano had a true passion for baseball. As a sophomore, Gurgitano shined on the mound, and earned the right to start Harrison’s sectional playoff game against Tappan Zee. In addition to his on-field achievements, DiRuocco said Gurgitano served as an inspiration to teammates through the force of his enthusiasm for the game.

“We had a number of sophomores come out for the varsity team, but he really impressed us overall,” the coach said. “He had such a positive attitude. He was always working on his game. He really came into his own and I was looking forward to getting the chance to work with him for the next two years.”

The Harrison community’s quick response to the tragedy is a testament to the impact that Andrew had on the lives of his classmates, said DiRuocco. On Monday, a Gofundme page hoping to raise $15,000 to help the Gurgitano family with funeral costs was set up. By Tuesday morning, the page had raised $57,760.

According to a Monday update on the website, all excess funds will be used towards creating a scholarship fund in Andrew’s name.

On Thursday, Nov. 13, the baseball team will take part in a candlelight vigil at Harrison High School to support the Gurgitano family. The following day, on Nov. 14, Harrison’s soccer team will hold a charity game to raise money for the family of junior varsity player Joseph Lopez, whose mother, Reyda LaMadrid, 47 was killed by a drunk driver
on Nov. 3.

DiRuocco added that the baseball team will also look for a way to honor Gurgitano’s legacy when the spring season starts up.

“We definitely want to do something, there’s just so much going on right now,” said the head coach. “We met with the team on Monday [Nov. 10], and I think we needed it, we needed each other. There’s really no way to prepare for something like this.”

Contact: sports@hometwn.com

 
NOT TO BAD

Postmortem for an “Alien”

Over the years, pro boxer Bernard Hopkins has taken on every challenger. But even Hopkins wasn’t able to best Father Time last Saturday night. Photo/Mike Smith

Over the years, pro boxer Bernard Hopkins has taken on every challenger. But even Hopkins wasn’t able to best Father Time last Saturday night. Photo/Mike Smith

In December of 2005, when I was submitting occasional columns to my college newspaper, I felt compelled to jot down my thoughts after middleweight boxer Bernard Hopkins, then a ring-weary veteran at 40 years old, lost to an up-and-coming champion named Jermain Taylor for the second time. It was time to applaud Hopkins for a long and storied career, I opined, because after his second one-sided loss to a younger, more talented competitor, it was time to close the curtain on this all-time great.

Talk about jumping the gun.

Nine years later, Taylor has become an afterthought in the boxing world, the answer to a trivia question or two, while Hopkins, at 49, is still one of the most recognizable, decorated champions in the sport, having won titles at every stop on his way up to light-heavyweight. He ditched his longtime moniker “The Executioner” for the more appropriate “Alien,” a testament to his seemingly inhuman resistance to the aging process.

But on Saturday night, it seemed that my nearly-decade old sentiments about the end of an era might finally be ringing true.

On Nov. 8, Hopkins was felled by 31-year-old Sergey Kovalev in a light heavyweight title bout on HBO. Kovalev, one of the most feared punchers in the sport, methodically broke down the defenses of the ageless Hopkins, overpowering him more soundly than anyone else has been able to do in his two-decade-plus career in the ring.

Of course, it makes sense.

Kovalev is a flat-out destroyer. He knocks opponents out with jabs. But few among the boxing cognoscenti were willing to concede that Hopkins might have finally met his match. His guile, supreme conditioning and experience, they said, would be enough to keep the legend of Hopkins alive.

Alas, it was not to be.

After the fight, Hopkins—who has long been known for his candor—sounded, for the first time, like a man mulling retirement. Age—and Kovalev’s crushing right hand—had finally caught up with the old master.

But I’m not ready to write Hopkins off just yet. I’m going to learn from my past mistakes. So what if Hopkins is going to be 50 years old in a few weeks? I still think he somehow has enough in the tank to remain relevant, at least for a few more years.

But if he does decide to hang up the gloves for good, you can’t blame the guy.

If there’s a tougher opponent out there than a massive Russian with sledgehammers for hands, it’s Father Time.

That’s one battle that nobody will win. Not even the aliens among us.

Follow Mike on Twitter, 

@LiveMike_Sports

 

Joe Dedvukaj and Max Cutrupi converge on Haldane’s Tyler Giachinta. Tuckahoe’s defense held the Blue Devils to just 118 yards of offense on the day.

Tigers claim Class D crown

Enoch Penney-Lareya breaks a tackle en route to a touchdown against Haldane on Nov. 8. Penney-Lareya finished with 227 yards and four touchdowns. Photos/Bobby Begun

Enoch Penney-Lareya breaks a tackle en route to a touchdown against Haldane on Nov. 8. Penney-Lareya finished with 227 yards and four touchdowns. Photos/Bobby Begun

By MIKE SMITH
After a summer rife with uncertainty and turmoil, the Tuckahoe football team left little doubt as to their Section I dominance this year. On Saturday, Nov. 8, the Tigers won their third-straight Class D championship with a dominating performance against challenger Haldane, beating the Blue Devils 40-0 to advance to the state regional quarterfinals.

Tuckahoe wasted little time on Saturday, thanks in part to the tough running of punishing halfback Enoch Penney-Lareya, who finished the day with four touchdowns and 227 yards on the ground. Penney-Lareya’s biggest gain of the day was a 99-yard Wildcat scamper in the final minute of the second quarter to give the Tigers a commanding 27-0 lead at the half.

According to the senior, the play was designed to give the Tigers a bit of breathing room, but quickly turned into Tuckahoe’s biggest play of the
season.

“We were just trying to gain about five yards and move forward,” Penney-Lareya said. “But I saw a big clump, so I cut outside because there was a hole.”

Penney-Lareya was also dominant on the other side of the ball, racking up four sacks en route to winning the game’s most outstanding lineman award.

“He came to play on both sides of the ball today,” said Tuckahoe coach John D’Arco, Sr. “He was great, both offensively and defensively.”

The rest of the Tuckahoe defense acquitted itself just as well, holding the Blue Devils to just 118 yards of offense on the afternoon. In the first half, Tuckahoe was able to end two Haldane scoring threats with timely interceptions, something that D’Arco feels is indicative of his squad’s mindset.

Joe Dedvukaj and Max Cutrupi converge on Haldane’s Tyler Giachinta. Tuckahoe’s defense held the Blue Devils to just 118 yards of offense on the day.

Joe Dedvukaj and Max Cutrupi converge on Haldane’s Tyler Giachinta. Tuckahoe’s defense held the Blue Devils to just 118 yards of offense on the day.

“Their backs were against the wall, not just this game, but all season,” the head coach said. “But this is the toughest group of guys I’ve ever coached. They never quit, they never give up.”

Tuckahoe quarterback Anthony Castracucco, who was named the game’s most outstanding back after a 117-yard, two score performance, said that the squad’s reluctance to give in was born from the questions surrounding the future of the program that arose in the preseason.

In August, amid some concern about the team’s dwindling numbers and lack of support from the school board, members of the community rallied behind the program at a Board of Education meeting to ensure that the team would have the necessary equipment and enough coaches to take the field in 2014.

Those early trials, the quarterback said, helped motivate the Tigers to come out strong in the second half despite an overwhelming lead.

“That stuff brought us together, it made us a family,” said Castracucco. “That second half, that was for our fans, for the people who supported us, not the people trying to bring us down.”

With the win, Tuckahoe will advance to the Class D quarterfinals at Dietz Stadium in Kingston, N.Y. on Nov. 15, where they will take on Section IX champ Chester High School at 3 p.m.

Anthony Castracucco carries the ball in Tuckahoe’s 40-0 win over Haldane for the Class D Section I title. Castracucco was named the game’s most outstanding back.

Anthony Castracucco carries the ball in Tuckahoe’s 40-0 win over Haldane for the Class D Section I title. Castracucco was named the game’s most outstanding back.

The Tigers will look to capitalize on the momentum of Saturday’s win as they cast their gaze towards Syracuse.

“This is just awesome because we had a lot of doubts in the beginning of the season,” said Penney-Lareya after the game. “But we stuck together, we know what it means to be a team, so we just persevered and came through in the end.”

CONTACT: sports@hometwn.com

 
Rye’s Andrew Livingston runs the ball against Yorktown on Saturday, Nov. 8. In the Class A Championship, Livingston threw for 257 yards and three scores, breaking the all-time Section I passing record in the process.

Rye wins Class A title

Drew Abate hauls in a pass against Yorktown on Nov. 8. Rye dominated the game on both sides of the ball to come away with a 35-14 victory and the section title.

Drew Abate hauls in a pass against Yorktown on Nov. 8. Rye dominated the game on both sides of the ball to come away with a 35-14 victory and the section title.

By MIKE SMITH
Rye made history more than once on Saturday night, as senior quarterback Andrew Livingston led the Garnets to an unprecedented Class A title and broke the all-time Section I passing record in a 35-14 win over Yorktown at Mahopac High School. 

With the win, Rye became the first team in Section I history to capture championships in three classes. Rye had previously won section titles in Class C and Class B, but the Nov. 8 win marked the first time the Garnets have hoisted a sectional plaque since moving to Class A in 2009.

“This just shows how far we’ve come as a program, climbing up from Class C to Class B and now to Class A,” Livingston said after the game. “It’s special, and it shows just how good of a job our coaches do here.”

Livingston staked the Garnets to an insurmountable lead, throwing for 257 yards and three touchdowns in the game and rushing for another two scores in the
one-sided victory.

His record-breaking pass was a big one, as he hit his favorite target, Tim DeGraw, for a 54-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the second half. That throw was enough to put him past Briarcliff’s Rob Higle on the Section I’s all-time passing leaders list.

“Tim and I have been playing together since the third grade, so to break the record with him was special,” Livingston said.

“Records break themselves because our coaches have put us in a position to succeed,” added DeGraw, who had 183 receiving yards and three touchdowns on the day. “I’m just happy that it was in a spot that helped us win the game.”

Rye’s Andrew Livingston runs the ball against Yorktown on Saturday, Nov. 8. In the Class A Championship, Livingston threw for 257 yards and three scores, breaking the all-time Section I passing record in the process.

Rye’s Andrew Livingston runs the ball against Yorktown on Saturday, Nov. 8. In the Class A Championship, Livingston threw for 257 yards and three scores, breaking the all-time Section I passing record in the process.

Although Rye’s vaunted offense was able to light up the scoreboard against Yorktown, the Garnets also turned in a first-class defensive performance. Junior Chase Pratt, who was named the game’s most valuable lineman, said Rye came into the postseason with something to prove.

“I thought our defense got kind of a bad rap early in the year,” Pratt said. “We knew that once we got into the playoffs, it was time to turn it up and our defense really came together.”

Pratt pointed out that although injuries derailed Rye’s title hopes in 2013, they have not been a problem so far for the Garnets, who came into this postseason much healthier than they did a year ago.

“In my mind, our best returning defensive player is [senior lineman] Roger Paganelli, and he didn’t play a snap on defense until the playoffs,” said the junior. “So we felt that it was just about getting the right personnel in there to succeed.”

Rye will be back in Mahopac on Nov. 15 as they get set to tangle with Section IX champion Cornwall in the first round of the state playoffs. Cornwall is currently undefeated and has a highly regarded quarterback in Jason Bailey, who, like Livingston, has passed for more than 2,000 yards this season.

Rye’s captains, left to right, Tim DeGraw, Andrew Livingston, Jimmy Timmings, Roger Paganelli, and Chase Pratt pose with the Class A championship plaque. Photos/Bobby Begun

Rye’s captains, left to right, Tim DeGraw, Andrew Livingston, Jimmy Timmings, Roger Paganelli, and Chase Pratt pose with the Class A championship plaque. Photos/Bobby Begun

“Tonight was a great night, a great win, especially to do it in our senior year,” said Livingston. “But we know that we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

CONTACT: sports@hometwn.com

 

 

 

 

 

The Rye Garnets celebrate their 35-14 win over Yorktown at Mahopac High School. Rye’s latest section title is their first since joining Class A.

The Rye Garnets celebrate their 35-14 win over Yorktown at Mahopac High School. Rye’s latest section title is their first since joining Class A.

 
Ryan O’Leary, with scissors, cuts the ribbon at the official opening of Champs Boxing Club’s new location on South Division Street in New Rochelle. O’Leary hopes his gym will be a fixture in the community for years to come. Photo/Bobby Begun

Champs opens new location

By MIKE SMITH
On Wednesday, Oct. 22, Champs Boxing Club held an evening gala to celebrate the opening of its new gym location in New Rochelle. The event, which was hosted by the New Rochelle Chamber of Commerce, was a big step in the right direction for the local boxing club, according to Champs founder Ryan O’Leary. 

Champs Boxing Club, which was previously running out of a smaller space in the city, officially moved into the second floor of 7 S. Division St. about a month ago, but jumped at the chance to celebrate the move with the community, O’Leary said.

“This time, I wanted to do everything by the book, I wanted everything done the right way,” said O’Leary. “Somebody told me to join the Chamber of Commerce, and it turned out to be fantastic.”

O’Leary, a longtime New Rochelle resident, said that while his search for gym space was extensive, he never truly considered leaving the New Rochelle area.

“It was very important for me for this gym to be in New Rochelle,” he said. “People were showing me spaces in the Bronx, but being here, in the heart of New Rochelle, I think that this community was sorely lacking in this kind of thing and I thought I could do it the right way.”

In addition to working with boxers, Champs Boxing Club has also been active in reaching out the community in the past. Earlier this year, O’Leary and other gym members took part in the Fight for Peace program, in which they put on a series of talks for New Rochelle youths that tackled a wide array of issues facing the community, including bullying and self-realization.

“Being here, in the heart of New Rochelle, I think that appeals to a lot of the programs we’re trying to do,” O’Leary said. “We’re really trying to get these kids into this program.”

The visibility of the new location doesn’t hurt either, he added.

“We don’t have a sign, but there’s a lot of foot traffic in the area,” he said. “We’ve been here a month and we’ve already gotten 70 new members. I’m going to have to bring in more staff.”

As the gym continues to grow, O’Leary said, he hopes that it will turn into the kind of institution that will serve New Rochelle for years.

“We’re here. We’re in the right place and I told everyone [at the opening] what my plan was,” O’Leary said, “and that’s to live for another hundred years, stay in this gym, and die right here in my chair.”

CONTACT: sports@hometwn.com

 
NOT TO BAD

A wealth of surprises

Rye quarterback Andrew Livingston takes a snap on Oct. 24 against Beacon. Livingston is on the cusp of leading his team to a Class A title, and setting the Section I all-time passing mark in the process. Photos/Mike Smith

Rye quarterback Andrew Livingston takes a snap on Oct. 24 against Beacon. Livingston is on the cusp of leading his team to a Class A title, and setting the Section I all-time passing mark in the process. Photos/Mike Smith

As I often say, the great thing about playoff time is that there is no shortage of wonderful narratives to follow. Unfortunately, some came to an end sooner than I—and our local fans—may have hoped.

The last two weeks saw some of the Review’s state playoff hopefuls have their hopes dashed on the gridiron. Woodlands took care of much of the heavy lifting, upsetting both top-seeded Bronxville and No. 2 Rye Neck in successive weeks to claim the Class C title. Both New Rochelle and Mamaroneck’s football squads bowed out this week as well, falling in the semifinal round of the Class AA playoffs.

But just because these teams may be done doesn’t mean their remarkable stories should be ignored.

Take Mamaroneck, which just completed its best season since 1992, earning a long-awaited playoff win against Scarsdale in the process; or the Huguenots, who saw a new star, in freshman running back Jordan Barron, born in the playoffs as the team dealt with a late-season injury to all-state senior Jon Forrest.

Bronxville’s Lucy Kohlhoff controls the ball in Bronxville’s first round playoff game against Putnam Valley. Kohlhoff shined in the Broncos’ run to a fifth straight Class B title despite breaking her wrist in the semifinal round.

Bronxville’s Lucy Kohlhoff controls the ball in Bronxville’s first round playoff game against Putnam Valley. Kohlhoff shined in the Broncos’ run to a fifth straight Class B title despite breaking her wrist in the semifinal round.

In the case of Bronxville and Rye Neck—two teams that had tremendous seasons in their own right—they became part of another intriguing plotline that saw Woodlands, a team that many had written off by the middle of the season, put together a historic run through the playoffs to capture another title under the tutelage of coach Mike Meade.

And for the teams—in the football world and beyond—that haven’t written the final chapter of their season’s stories, the prospects still remain exciting.

Rye’s football team, led by its historic quarterback/receiver tandem is still looking to win an elusive section title. Tuckahoe, amid an offseason filled with bureaucratic strife, is also on the doorstep of another Section I crown.

Bronxville’s girl’s soccer team, owners of a one-loss regular season record, just claimed their fifth straight section title—thanks in part to the efforts of a gritty star who has played the last two games with a broken wrist—and are looking to bring home a state championship. Mamaroneck’s field hockey team, statistically the most dominant team in the section—in any sport—radically shifted its entire formation in response to a late season loss and have looked invincible ever since.

A Woodlands player runs with the ball during the Falcons’ Nov. 1 Class C championship win over Rye Neck. Although the Falcons’ championship came at the expense of two of our local squads, their remarkable turnaround can not be overlooked.

A Woodlands player runs with the ball during the Falcons’ Nov. 1 Class C championship win over Rye Neck. Although the Falcons’ championship came at the expense of two of our local squads, their remarkable turnaround can not be overlooked.

And what about Rye Neck’s boys soccer team, a young group of underdogs who needed two timely goals from one of its brilliant offensive star to claim an unexpected Class B title?

Will these teams, still fighting through the sectional and state playoffs, get that win in the final game of the season?

Maybe. Maybe not.

But one thing is for certain; before this fall season finally ends, we will be in for our fair share of surprises.

So buckle up for these next few weeks. There’s bound to be another curve or two in the road ahead.

 

Follow Mike on Twitter, 

@LiveMike_Sports

Mamaroneck’s field hockey team lines up for pregame introductions on Oct. 30. The Tigers revamped its attack late in the season to great success so far.

Mamaroneck’s field hockey team lines up for pregame introductions on Oct. 30. The Tigers revamped its attack late in the season to great success so far.

 

 
Caitlin Fryer scores the first goal in Bronxville’s Oct. 25 victory over Putnam Valley. Fryer picked up two more goals as the Broncos rolled to a 5-0 win in the opening round of the Class B playoffs. 
Photo/Mike Smith

Eastchester Playoff Roundup

Caitlin Fryer scores the first goal in Bronxville’s Oct. 25 victory over Putnam Valley. Fryer picked up two more goals as the Broncos rolled to a 5-0 win in the opening round of the Class B playoffs.  Photo/Mike Smith

Caitlin Fryer scores the first goal in Bronxville’s Oct. 25 victory over Putnam Valley. Fryer picked up two more goals as the Broncos rolled to a 5-0 win in the opening round of the Class B playoffs.
Photo/Mike Smith

Girls Soccer

10/25 Bronxville d.
Putnam Valley 5-0

In Class C first-round action, top-seeded Bronxville demolished an overmatched Tiger team 5-0 to advance to the quarterfinals. Caitlin Fryer started off the scoring from Bronxville just 10 minutes into the game and fond the net twice more to lead Bronxville on the day. Mason Warble and Lucy Kolhoff also had goals in the Broncos’ victory.

Bronxville will host No. 8 seeded Westlake on Tuesday, Oct. 28 after press time.

 

Boys Soccer

10/24 Eastchester 

d. Yonkers 2-1 (OT)

Jeihson Molina scored in overtime to lead the No. 8 seed Eagles to a first round win over Yonkers on Eastchester’s first game at its newly renovated field. Leandro Dos Santos picked up the overtime assist to propel the Eagles to the quarterfinals.

10/27 Eastchester d.

Yorktown 1-0

On Monday, the Eagles knocked off the top seed in Class A, as Austin Cappaso’s goal put Eastchester in the semifinals. Eagles’ goalkeeper Joe Blasetti tallied 14 saves in the shutout.

Eastchester will take on No. 4 seed Byram Hills in the Class A semifinals on Wednesday, Oct. 29 after press time.

 

10/25 Bronxville d. 

Albertus Magnus 5-1

In the Class B first round, No. 3 seed Bronxville topped the Falcons 5-1, thanks to a two goal game from Sam Aherne.

 

10/27 Bronxville d.

Blind Brook 2-1

James Burnell had both Broncos’ goals in the team’s Monday win against No. 6 seed Blind Brook, punching Bronxville’s ticket to the Class B semifinals. On Wednesday, Oct. 29, the squad will host No. 7 seed Edgemont, after press time.     Football

10/25 Woodlands d.     Bronxville 25-22

On Saturday, top-seeded Bronxville, a team that many thought had a realistic shot at a Section I crown this year, was upset in the first round by No. 4 seed Woodlands. Jonathan Stewart led the way for the Falcons, throwing for one score and rushing for another, as Woodlands earns the right to play for a Class C title on Saturday against Rye Neck. Stewart also shined on the defensive side of the ball, grabbing an interception, recovering a fumble and leading the Falcons in tackles.

 

Volleyball

10/24 Eastchester d.      Pleasantville 3-2

After winning the first set, No. 8 seed Eastchester found themselves trailing against the ninth-seeded Panthers on Friday, but rallied back to advance to the second round, thanks to a great performance from Alessia Moccia, who tallied 13 kills on the afternoon. Moccia benefitted greatly from the play of teammate Juliana DiMirco, who had 22 assists.

With the win, Eastchester advanced to the Class B quarterfinals, where they were eliminated by top-seeded Ardsley, 3-0.

Mamaroneck’s Marquez Jackson-Allen breaks a tackle against Scarsdale during a Saturday, Oct. 25 playoff game. Jackson-Allen rushed for 244 yards and three scores in the Tigers’ win.

Tigers throttle Scarsdale

Quarterback Bill Flatow looks downfield for a receiver against Scarsdale. Flatow completed 14 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.

Quarterback Bill Flatow looks downfield for a receiver against Scarsdale. Flatow completed 14 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.

By MIKE SMITH
On Saturday, Oct. 25, the Mamaroneck Tigers punched their ticket to the Class AA semifinal round with a dominant road performance against No. 2 seed Scarsdale, beating the Raiders 45-20. Mamaroneck’s first postseason win in the playoff-era now has the team eying an Oct. 31 showdown with John Jay, with a trip to Mahopac hanging in the balance.  

After allowing Scarsdale to get out to a 14-6 lead in the first half, the Tigers, who entered the playoffs as the No.3 seed, buckled down, scoring 39 straight points to upend the Raiders. Although the lopsided nature of the game surprised many local fans, Mamaroneck head coach Anthony Vitti said that his team’s latest showing was anything but unexpected.

“This is a veteran group,” said Vitti. “They’ve been getting better each week, and I think they’re peaking now, in the postseason, which is something that we had talked about all year.”

The Raiders simply had no answer for the Tiger offense, which outgained Scarsdale 482-222 on the day. Senior running back Marquez Jackson-Allen led the way with 243 rushing yards and three touchdowns on a season-high 29 carries.

“He brought his ‘A’ game,” said Vitti of the senior standout. “This is where the big guys shine, where it’s win or go home, and I think that challenged him to play his best.”

Mamaroneck’s Marquez Jackson-Allen breaks a tackle against Scarsdale during a Saturday, Oct. 25 playoff game. Jackson-Allen rushed for 244 yards and three scores in the Tigers’ win.

Mamaroneck’s Marquez Jackson-Allen breaks a tackle against Scarsdale during a Saturday, Oct. 25 playoff game. Jackson-Allen rushed for 244 yards and three scores in the Tigers’ win.

Quarterback Bill Flatow also threw for two touchdowns on the day, finding Alex Parkinson and Emerson Genovese on scoring strikes in the second half. Bowen Colon found the end zone in the fourth quarter to round out the scoring for Mamaroneck.

According to Vitti, Mamaroneck’s offensive success stemmed from a good push upfront. Led by Andrew Sommer, the Tiger’s offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage, allowing the Mamaroneck backs to move the chains.

“I can’t say enough about our [offensive] line,” said Vitti. “These guys work so hard each week, and our backs are the first ones to turn around and give them credit.”

Mamaroneck has now won three straight games since an Oct. 2 loss to Arlington—the team’s only blemish on the season. In that time, the Tigers have outscored their opponents 113-35. According to Vitti, the Tigers’ ability to rebound from the early-October setback is a testament to the mindset of the squad.

“You can go one of two directions when you lose; you can either take it on the chin and learn from it, or go the other way,” the head coach said. “I think our guys took that as a strike of humility and we’ve only gotten better.”

Alex Parkinson is brought down by two Raider defenders on Oct. 25. Parkinson scored a touchdown in Mamaroneck’s 45-20 win.

Alex Parkinson is brought down by two Raider defenders on Oct. 25. Parkinson scored a touchdown in Mamaroneck’s 45-20 win.

The Tigers will travel to East Fishkill on Oct. 31 to take on No. 1 seed John Jay in the Class AA semifinals. The Patriots are coming off an impressive win of their own, having downed Horace Greeley 48-28 in the first round.

“Right now, we’re just going to turn that page,” Vitti said. “The guys took a day to reflect on the win, but if I know them, they’re already studying film. There is going to be a lot of excitement in practice this week, because it’s win or go home.”

Contact: sports@hometwn.com

 

Marquez Jackson-Allen runs for daylight on Oct. 25. The Tigers will play John Jay in the Class AA semifinals after defeating Scarsdale. Photos/Bobby Begun

Marquez Jackson-Allen runs for daylight on Oct. 25. The Tigers will play John Jay in the Class AA semifinals after defeating Scarsdale. Photos/Bobby Begun

 
NOT TO BAD

Column: The busiest time of the year

Mamaroneck’s Marquez Jackson-Allen rushes against the Scarsdale defense on Oct. 25. This past Saturday was a busy one for Sports Editor Mike Smith, and the schedule doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. Photo/Bobby Begun

Mamaroneck’s Marquez Jackson-Allen rushes against the Scarsdale defense on Oct. 25. This past Saturday was a busy one for Sports Editor Mike Smith, and the schedule doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. Photo/Bobby Begun

For someone who covers high school sports for a living, there is simply nothing quite like playoff time.

As my colleagues here at the Review know all too well, this time of year is always a busy one. With election season in full swing, the newsroom is a frenzy of activity. Between coordinating Election Day schedules, interviewing candidates and getting out in front of any last minute stories, I’d say—and I’m sure my co-workers agree—that the few weeks leading up to an election can be among the most stressful, yet rewarding, times in a reporter’s career.

And that’s how I feel about the first weekend of the playoff calendar.

With so much going on—nearly every school in our coverage area had at least three teams in action this weekend—it can be a bit overwhelming. But there’s a certain excitement in the air around this time of year that makes it all worthwhile.

Lord knows I’m not a prolific Twitter user. During the year, I primarily use the social media site to provide updates to a readership that I’m not always sure is invested in—or cognizant of—my posts.

But on Saturday, my feed was buzzing.

I was getting updates from around the section, and thankfully so, because I can’t be two, or for that matter six, places at once; questions about upcoming matchups from area fans and repeated requests from my friends to clue them in on why our alma matter, Scarsdale, was getting thrashed by a surging Mamaroneck squad. Answer: Mamaroneck was just that much better.

Suffice it to say, it’s kind of a rush being a part—no matter how small—of one of the biggest local sports days of the year.

Of course, it helps when the stories are so intriguing. Between Bronxville’s top-seeded football team getting knocked off by an underdog Woodlands squad, New Rochelle’s continued ability to find ways to win without the services of All-State running back Jon Forrest, and Rye Neck’s gritty, defensive-minded effort in a 15-7 win over Dobbs Ferry, there was more than enough drama to go around. And those are just some of the storylines yielded from the football slate alone.

Unlike election coverage, however, my ride didn’t end when the final whistle sounded on Saturday. I’ve still got a few weeks to go before this fall season finally shakes out, a few more tweets to send out and more than a couple of miles to put on my car with trips to Mahopac, Kingston and possibly beyond.

But after the final curtain closes on the fall season, on Nov. 30, I’ll finally have some time to take a deep breath.

At least until Dec. 1, when basketball season kicks off.

 

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Dom Brescia soars towards the end zone in the first half of Rye Neck’s playoff win against Dobbs Ferry. Brescia rushed for 143 yards on the day.

Black Hats headed to Mahopac

Chris Richart sheds a tackle on a punt return on Saturday, Oct. 25. Rye Neck advanced to the Class C finals with a 15-7 win over Dobbs Ferry.

Chris Richart sheds a tackle on a punt return on Saturday, Oct. 25. Rye Neck advanced to the Class C finals with a 15-7 win over Dobbs Ferry.

By MIKE SMITH
The Rye Neck Panthers punched their ticket to Mahopac with a 15-7 win over Dobbs Ferry in the Class C semifinals on Saturday, Oct. 25. Although the game was closer than Panther fans may have liked, in the end it was another strong defensive effort that kept the Black Hats dreams of a second straight Section I title alive. 

Two weeks ago, Rye Neck hosted Dobbs Ferry in the regular season and dispatched the Eagles with little difficulty, downing the visiting team 34-12 to secure home-field advantage for a first round rematch between the two programs. This second time around, however, the road to victory was a much tougher one for the Panthers as a resurgent Dobbs Ferry defense did its best to hold the Black Hats’ explosive backfield in check.

The Panthers scored just one offensive touchdown on the day, a 14-yard scamper by Dom Brescia in the first half. But Rye Neck was able to convert points on the defensive side of the ball, as Nick D’Errico took an interception back for a touchdown on Dobbs’ first possession of the game. The score was 15-7 heading into halftime, and would remain that way until the final whistle sounded.

Dom Brescia soars towards the end zone in the first half of Rye Neck’s playoff win against Dobbs Ferry. Brescia rushed for 143 yards on the day.

Dom Brescia soars towards the end zone in the first half of Rye Neck’s playoff win against Dobbs Ferry. Brescia rushed for 143 yards on the day.

In the first meeting between the teams, Rye Neck amassed 575 yards of total offense. On Saturday afternoon, the Eagles were able to limit the Black Hats’ big plays, although Brescia still racked up 134 yards on the ground.

“I just think that Dobbs Ferry played much better this time,” said Rye Neck coach Nick Ianello. “I’m not sure if it was their schemes, but they tackled better and I think they were more prepared for us this time.”

With the win, Rye Neck will advance to the Class C championships at Mahopac High School on Nov. 1, where they will take on Woodlands in a rematch of the last year’s title game. Woodlands is coming off a stunning 25-22 upset of a top-seeded Bronxville team that was previously unbeaten in section play.

Rye Neck trounced Woodlands 34-0 on Sept. 13, but Ianello is confident that the Falcons won’t be pushovers with the Class C title on the line.

“I think Woodlands might be the best 3-4 team in the nation, to tell you the truth,” Ianello said. “I don’t see this game being similar at all. I think this is going to be a nail-biter.”

Dom Brescia breaks a run to the outside. Photos/Mike Smith

Dom Brescia breaks a run to the outside. Photos/Mike Smith

Ianello said that Woodlands’ backs, including Jonathan Stewart who threw for a score and ran for another against Bronxville, present matchup problems for any team and that his squad will need to be vigilant on both sides of the ball if they hope to repeat as Section I champs.

“They do everything pretty well and they’ve got some really good skilled position players like always,” Ianello said. “We’ve just got to work on being more consistent in our play, and work on avoiding those peaks and valleys.”

Contact: sports@hometwn.com

 

Matt Garofalo and Nick D’Errico converge on Dobbs Ferry’s Chris Cipriano during last week’s opening round playoff game. Rye Neck’s defense was stout against the Eagles, allowing just one score on the day.

Matt Garofalo and Nick D’Errico converge on Dobbs Ferry’s Chris Cipriano during last week’s opening round playoff game. Rye Neck’s defense was stout against the Eagles, allowing just one score on the day.