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.

Tyler Clickner

Rye Athlete of the week: Tyler Clickner

Tyler Clickner

Tyler Clickner

BY LAUREN DEMPSEY
Because of early morning practices out on the cold water, crew isn’t a sport for everyone. But for senior Tyler Clickner, it just felt right from the moment he started. 

Clickner tried many sports when he was younger but nothing felt as natural as rowing.

He is currently a member of the Rye Garnets Varsity Crew Team.

At the Bill Braxton Memorial Regatta held at Mercer Lake, N.J., Clickner placed in all three of his races, winning two gold medals and one silver. In his initial race, the Men’s Varsity Double, he, while rowing in the stroke seat, teamed up with Michael Batal and finished first. In the Men’s Second Varsity Eight, Clickner and his teammates finished second in a very tightly-contested race. He followed that up with a first-place finish in the Men’s Varsity Quad.

Coach Stanley Nelson was impressed with the performance of his senior rower.

“Tyler raced three times that day which was more than anyone else on the team,” he said. “Tyler’s has been a longtime member of the team and it was great to see him have such a successful day.”

Teammate Liam Wilson agreed.

“Tyler is an incredible athlete and skilled rower,” Wilson said. “He is the picture of sportsmanship and his upbeat attitude keeps our team going through tough times.”

This is Clickner’s fourth year on varsity. The team will work out over the winter and begin to race again in the spring.

But Clickner is also active out of the water. He is an honor roll student, was named a Class of 2016 Scholar and is a member of the Bread of Life Club, an organization that helps to feed the hungry and homeless of Westchester.

Mamaroneck resident Steve Newman was a part of a Sarasota Sharks master’s relay team that broke the world record in the short-course 800-meter freestyle relay on Nov. 7. Contributed photos

Newman sets swim mark

 

 

Mamaroneck resident Steve Newman was a part of a Sarasota Sharks master’s relay team that broke the world record in the short-course 800-meter freestyle relay on Nov. 7. Contributed photos

Mamaroneck resident Steve Newman was a part of a Sarasota Sharks master’s relay team that broke the world record in the short-course 800-meter freestyle relay on Nov. 7. Contributed photos

By MIKE SMITH
On Nov. 7, Mamaroneck’s Steve Newman helped set a master’s world swimming record. 

Newman and his Sarasota YMCA Sharks teammates, Jack Groselle, Kevin McCormack and Rick Walker, set a new benchmark in the 240-279 Short Course Meter 800-meter freestyle relay with a blistering time of 8:52.73. The Sharks’ pace was more than eight seconds quicker than the previous record.

“This was the first time the four of us ever swam together on the same relay team,” Newman said. “But everyone was swimming their best, and I personally had been doing some hard training for most of the summer and fall.”

Newman, 53, is a Rye native who resides in Mamaroneck and teaches math at New Rochelle High School. Five years ago, he joined up with the Florida-based swim program that competes in several large meets each year.

According to Newman, the decision to put the record-breaking team into competition at the Shark Tank meet on Nov. 7 came about as a result of a burgeoning rivalry between the Sharks and a master’s team from Ventura County, Calif.

The Ventura County Masters team posted a then-record time of 9:00.30 at a meet last December.

“Because of the nature of the short-course meters, that pool length is only conducted from September to the end of December,” Newman said. “So we had to wait a while to get our chance to break it.”

When he’s not making waves with his Sharks teammates, Newman competes in a number of local and regional meets in the northeast. He generally trains five days a week, usually before school but said traveling to Sharks’ meets presents some logistical challenges.

“Being a teacher, there are only certain times I can take off, like school vacations,” he said. “There are times [when] I’m done with the teaching day on Friday, leave, swim the weekend meet and I’m back by Sunday.”

Newman said he will be unable to travel to California for the Sharks’ next meet on Dec. 11, but will likely be back in action later this winter at the New England Championships.

Steve Newman, second from right, and his 800-meter freestyle relay teammates pose after breaking the world record on Nov. 7.

Steve Newman, second from right, and his 800-meter freestyle relay teammates pose after breaking the world record on Nov. 7.

He remains confident that once the relay team gets back together, more records will fall.

“I plan to keep swimming as long as I physically can,” he said. “There are a number of records out there, some in the long-course season that we’re going to try and break in June and July.”

Contact: sports@hometwn.com

 
Dean McCarthy throws a pitch against Rye last spring. Next year, McCarthy and Garnet ace George Kirby will both be suiting up for Elon. Photos/Mike Smith

McCarthy signs with Elon

Dean McCarthy signs his letter of intent to play for Elon University in the Harrison High School Library on Nov. 13. McCarthy will pitch for the Phoenix baseball team next year.

Dean McCarthy signs his letter of intent to play for Elon University in the Harrison High School Library on Nov. 13. McCarthy will pitch for the Phoenix baseball team next year.

Dean McCarthy throws a pitch against Rye last spring. Next year, McCarthy and Garnet ace George Kirby will both be suiting up for Elon. Photos/Mike Smith

Dean McCarthy throws a pitch against Rye last spring. Next year, McCarthy and Garnet ace George Kirby will both be suiting up for Elon. Photos/Mike Smith

By MIKE SMITH
On Nov. 13, Harrison pitcher Dean McCarthy put pen to paper and made it official, signing his national letter of intent to attend Division I Elon University next fall. Although the senior is eager to take his game to the next level, he is still committed to leading the Huskies to victory

in the spring.

A three-year varsity starter, McCarthy said that Elon first piqued his interest last year when he attended a camp on the school’s North Carolina campus. That put the wheels into motion, and as the southpaw impressed during his high school and summer travel seasons, the decision seemed clear-cut.

“We communicated throughout the winter, and then in the summer things started to spark,” he said. “They saw me pitch at a tournament in New Jersey, I had a good outing, and then they offered me [the scholarship].”

McCarthy said Elon was a perfect fit, not only because of its location—the senior said he knew he wanted to play down south—but also because of the school’s tradition.

The Phoenix play in the Colonial Athletic Association and have won four conference championships in the last 10 years. Head coach Mike Kennedy has been with the program since 1997, guiding Elon to 543 victories and six appearances in the NCAA tournament.

“It’s all pretty impressive; the field they have, the conference championships,” McCarthy said. “So one of my main goals is to go there, do some work and help them win another conference championship.”

Although McCarthy remains unsure about how he’ll be used as a freshman, he said he does expect to log some innings. To that end, the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder said he hopes to get physically stronger before heading down south.

“I’m definitely going to keep working with my pitching coach, doing a lot of work with weight training,” he said. “I’m just trying to get better and better.”

McCarthy won’t be the only pitcher from the area heading to Elon next fall.

George Kirby, who serves as the ace for Harrison’s rival Rye, has also accepted an offer to pitch for the Phoenix.

According to McCarthy, a potential pitching matchup between the two this spring could determine bragging rights for the next four years.

“I was just down there with him and he’s a nice kid,” McCarthy said. “But I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of trash-talking once we get to college about who did better in high school.”

Contact: sports@hometwn.com 

 
MikeSmith

Column: Fantasy wars

Sports Editor Mike Smith enjoys playing fantasy football. He’s just not sure about the allure of daily fantasy. Contributed photo

Sports Editor Mike Smith enjoys playing fantasy football. He’s just not sure about the allure of daily fantasy. Contributed photo

I’ll be honest. As much as I love managing my pretend football teams, I’ve never delved into the world of daily fantasy sports, and given the last few weeks that daily fantasy has had in the press—and the courts—I don’t really feel like I’m missing out.

Last week, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched an assault against DraftKings and FanDuel, the two preeminent daily fantasy sports sites that seem to run major TV spots every 30 seconds, on the grounds that both sites traffic in illegal sports betting. Now, I don’t hold a law degree, so I can’t really offer an informed opinion on the legality of daily fantasy sports as it pertains to New York’s gambling statute, but I will say this: daily fantasy goes against everything that I think fantasy sports should be.

For me, it’s never been about the money. Don’t get me wrong; winning money is great. It would be even better if I could manage a top three finish in my yearly fantasy league—something I haven’t been able to do in about six years.

My goal is for fantasy to simply augment my football-watching experience. Sometimes, you need a reason to watch the Bucs play the Jaguars on a random Thursday night. Having Doug Martin in your starting lineup seems like as good a reason as any to tune in.

But, at least for me, it doesn’t matter if Martin rushes for 130 yards and a touchdown if I can’t talk a little smack to the guy I’m playing who decided to roll the dice with Toby Gerhart.

Playing against your friends—and letting them know about all their shortcomings, both as a person and a general manager—is the true allure of fantasy sports. One of the highlights of my week is, without fail, the Tuesday morning leaguewide email we get from the GM of the first-place “Magnum TY” squad, which points out, in great detail, all the ways that his opponent failed to put the best team possible on the field. People get mad, sure, but that’s part of the fun.

But for daily fantasy, playing against a nameless, faceless horde, it just doesn’t seem to do it for me.

Just look at the people who “win big” playing DraftKings and FanDuel; the people who win consistently aren’t your garden variety football fans. They’re more akin to day-traders, with multiple computers running complicated algorithms to determine, down to the nearest decimal point, how many yards-after-catch James White will accrue against a 3-4 defense.

That’s not fun; that’s a job.

Ultimately, I don’t care what decision the courts make on the daily fantasy front. Whether or not these sites continue to operate will have very little bearing on how I choose to take in my football on the weekend.

I just wish they’d do something about those darn commercials.

 

Follow Mike on Twitter
@LiveMike_Sports

 
Caroline DePaul chases down a loose ball against Whitney Point. Photos/Bobby Begun

Broncos dropped in regionals

Caroline DePaul makes a play on the ball on Nov. 7 against Whitney Point. Bronxville fell 6-0 in the Class C regionals.

Caroline DePaul makes a play on the ball on Nov. 7 against Whitney Point. Bronxville fell 6-0 in the Class C regionals.

By MIKE SMITH
On Nov. 7, Bronxville’s field hockey season came to an end with a 6-0 loss to Section IV Whitney Point in the regional finals. But despite the disappointing end to the year, the Broncos’ young, talented roster appears to be poised for big things in the years to come.

Whitney Point came out firing on Saturday, building up a 4-0 first half lead before the Broncos even managed a shot on goal. The Eagles got huge performances from a pair of underclassmen, sophomore Elaina Burchell and freshman captain Leanna Bough, to best the Broncos. Burchell had four goals on the afternoon, and Bough notched a goal and three assists in the win. Both girls were key members of last year’s team, which beat the Broncos 2-0 in the state semifinals.

“As far as our team goes, I think we had as much talent, skill-wise, as we did last year,” Bronxville coach Jacquelyn Frawley said. “But Section IV is a powerhouse section, and [Whitney Point] is basically fielding 11 all-stars out there, so we knew it would be tough.”

Caroline Brashear takes a shot against Whitney Point. Bronxville managed only three shots on goal against the Eagles.

Caroline Brashear takes a shot against Whitney Point. Bronxville managed only three shots on goal against the Eagles.

Bronxville goalie Katie Gordon made 10 stops on the day, but the Eagles dominated the time of possession, allowing just three Bronxville shots. Despite the disparity in shots, however, Frawley was happy with the way her squad battled.

With the win, Whitney Point will be back in action on Nov. 14 when they play in the state semifinals at Maine-Endwell High School.

“They left everything on the field and they played hard,” the coach said. “Basically, we have no regrets.”

Even though this year’s campaign ended short of a state title, Frawley is confident that the Broncos will be contenders for the next few years. Bronxville graduates just four seniors from this year’s squad, three of whom, Brennan O’Toole, Lilly Grass and Caroline DePaul, are starters. Frawley saw plenty of improvement in her younger players, especially sophomore defenders Hadley Barr and Clair Kreamer, and believes that the team will come back stronger in 2016.

“Even the younger players, the sophomores and freshmen on the bench, will be moving right on up,” she said. “With players like Kreamer and Barr, you could see them start to peak as the year went on.”

For now, though, Frawley is content to let her squad reflect on another tremendous season.

“Basically every season, our goal is to be the section champs,” she said. “We did that, and everything afterwards is just icing on the cake.”

Caroline DePaul chases down a loose ball against Whitney Point. Photos/Bobby Begun

Caroline DePaul chases down a loose ball against Whitney Point. Photos/Bobby Begun

Contact: sports@hometwn.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hadley Barr controls the ball. Barr is one of several young Broncos who will lead the team in 2016.

Hadley Barr controls the ball. Barr is one of several young Broncos who will lead the team in 2016.

 
TJ Lavelle dives for a touchdown in the Class A finals. Lavelle’s score would account for the Garnets’ only points of the game. Photos/Bobby Begun

Garnets fall in finals

Brett Egan hauls in a pass against Lourdes on Nov. 7. Despite a strong defensive effort, Rye fell to the Warriors 14-7 in the Class A finals.

Brett Egan hauls in a pass against Lourdes on Nov. 7. Despite a strong defensive effort, Rye fell to the Warriors 14-7 in the Class A finals.

Chase Pratt rumbles ahead for a gain against the Warriors on Nov. 7. Pratt is one of several seniors who will graduate this spring.

Chase Pratt rumbles ahead for a gain against the Warriors on Nov. 7. Pratt is one of several seniors who will graduate this spring.

TJ Lavelle dives for a touchdown in the Class A finals. Lavelle’s score would account for the Garnets’ only points of the game. Photos/Bobby Begun

TJ Lavelle dives for a touchdown in the Class A finals. Lavelle’s score would account for the Garnets’ only points of the game. Photos/Bobby Begun

By MIKE SMITH
On Saturday, Nov. 7, Rye’s bid to repeat as the Class A champions came to an end when the Garnets fell to Lourdes 14-7 in the section title game at Arlington High School. For Rye, the loss was the first blemish on an otherwise perfect season, and head coach Dino Garr remained effusive in his praise of the overachieving ballclub.

The Garnets’ defense was stingy, particularly against an explosive Warriors offense that featured quarterback Dean Rotger. Rotger completed just eight of 22 pass attempts on the day, but threw for 193 yards and a touchdown, as Lourdes was able to take a 14-0 halftime lead over the Garnets. Rotger’s performance, however, was enough to lead his team to victory and unseat Rye Class of 2015 graduate Andrew Livingston as the section’s all-time career-passing leader.

“We came in trying to limit his mobility and his ability to throw the ball,” Garr said. “I thought we did a pretty good job overall, but they were able to make a couple of big plays.”

Offensively, the Garnets were hamstrung by turnovers, coughing up the ball six times on the night.

“We didn’t expect to have six turnovers,” Garr said. “And even though we had some opportunities, they made more of their opportunities than we did.”

Rye’s offense finally kicked into gear in the fourth quarter, when they went to the no-huddle and marched 80 yards in 14 plays on a drive that was capped off by an 8-yard touchdown run by quarterback TJ Lavelle.

Unfortunately for the Garnets, their last offensive drive of the game stalled deep in their own territory.

“They’re a good team,” Garr said of the Warriors. “In order for them to get into the section championships, they had to be.”

Although the Garnets ultimately fell short in their march toward another section title, Garr said he couldn’t help but be proud of his players who certainly bought into the team concept this year.

“Overall, this season showed a great team effort,” the coach said. “If you talk about Lourdes, they have three or four players. Yorktown has those two players. But we didn’t have that one player. Even [senior captain] Chase [Pratt] who has been so great for us, isn’t that type of breakaway player.”

For the Garnets, he added, the only thing left to do is move forward.

“Our seniors will graduate and that means the younger, lower classmen will have to follow this group,” he said. “This group did the same thing.”

Contact: sports@hometwn.com

 
lauren-xc-2

Rye Athlete of the Week: Lauren Dempsey

lauren-xc-2By LIAM BRENNAN
Known for always going the extra mile, cross-country co-captain Lauren Dempsey is the latest Athlete of the Week. Dempsey has qualified for sectional championships in the past four years. 

Coach Joseph Brown considers Dempsey to be the consummate team player and a positive role model to her teammates.

“Her outstanding leadership skills are evident,” Brown said. “[They] often go well beyond the sport of cross-country.”

Teammate Haley Ackert added that Dempsey’s commitment is infectious.

“Lauren is one of the most dedicated team members that I know,” Ackert said. “She does a great job leading the younger runners in group stretches and workouts.”

Her dedication and determination is evident academically as well. Dempsey was recently inducted into the National Honor Society, was a 2015 Rye Junior Scholar and a member of the High Honor Roll. Most impressively, Dempsey has maintained perfect school attendance since kindergarten.

Dempsey is a member of several extra curricular clubs, a contributor to the Rye High School newspaper Garnet & Black and a member of the varsity basketball and softball teams.

Dempsey was recently honored by the Westchester County Youth Board as a recipient of the 2015 Milly Kibrick Youth Service Award. Several years ago, she initiated a Halloween costume drive for kids in need. She has made multiple donations of her own hair to Locks for Love—72 inches in total—and is part of Rye’s Leaders of Tomorrow, an organization promoting volunteerism. Dempsey also serves as a volunteer for several other organizations.

Gia Mancini takes a shot against Tappan Zee in last year’s quarterfinal playoff game. The Huskies are looking to improve their fortunes this winter.

Winter sports schedules

 

A Rye Town/Harrison player wins a faceoff in the 2015 playoffs. The Titans made the section finals last season.

A Rye Town/Harrison player wins a faceoff in the 2015 playoffs. The Titans made the section finals last season.

2015-16 Boys Basketball

12/09 4:15 p.m. @ ROOSEVELT

12/11 6:30 p.m. @ WHITE PLAINS TOURNAMENT

12/14 6:15 p.m. PORT CHESTER

12/17 7 p.m. BYRAM HILLS

12/21 4:30 p.m. @ PELHAM

12/23 4:30 p.m. @ WESTLAKE

12/28 3:30 p.m. @ WESTCHESTER COUNTY CENTER*

01/06 6:15 p.m. @ BYRAM HILLS

01/09 3:00 p.m. @ RYE

01/14 6:15 p.m. PELHAM

01/16 11 a.m. @ WESTLAKE

01/20 4:15 p.m. @ EASTCHESTER

01/23 7:30 p.m. @ SCARSDALE

01/30 8 p.m. PEARL RIVER

Gia Mancini takes a shot against Tappan Zee in last year’s quarterfinal playoff game. The Huskies are looking to improve their fortunes this winter.

Gia Mancini takes a shot against Tappan Zee in last year’s quarterfinal playoff game. The Huskies are looking to improve their fortunes this winter.

02/01 6:15 p.m. RYE

02/04 6:15 p.m. @ PORT CHESTER

02/08 6:15 p.m. EASTCHESTER

* Slam Dunk Tournament

 

2015-16 Girls Basketball

12/04 7 p.m. @  CARMEL TOURNAMENT

12/09 4:30 p.m. SAUNDERS

12/11 7 p.m. @ PEARL RIVER

12/16 6:15 p.m. CARMEL

12/18 5 p.m. HARRISON TOURNAMENT

12/23 4:30 p.m. @ TAPPAN ZEE

12/26 12 p.m. @ WESTCHESTER COUNTY CENTER*

01/12 6:15 p.m. RYE

01/14 4:30 p.m. @ PELHAM

01/20 6:15 p.m. EASTCHESTER

01/22 7 p.m. @ BYRAM HILLS

Zach Evans sets up the Harrison offense during the Huskies’ Slam Dunk Tournament game in 2014. File Photos

Zach Evans sets up the Harrison offense during the Huskies’ Slam Dunk Tournament game in 2014. File Photos

01/28 6:15 p.m. PORT CHESTER

02/01 6:15 p.m. @ RYE

02/03 6:15 p.m. PELHAM

02/04 4:30 p.m. @ PORT CHESTER

02/05 7 p.m. @ EASTCHESTER

* Slam Dunk Tournament

2015-16 Hockey

11/27 12 p.m. @WHITE PLAINS TOURNAMENT

12/04 6 p.m. @NEW ROCHELLE

12/07 6:30 p.m. BYRAM HILLS

12/12 9 p.m. @BRIARCLIFF

12/14 6:30 p.m. PEARL RIVER

12/19 8:30 p.m. @BYRAM HILLS

12/21 6:30 p.m. MAMARONECK

12/28 6:30 p.m. SOMERS

01/04 6:30 p.m. IRVINGTON

01/08 9:30 p.m. @MAMARONECK

01/10 5:05 p.m. @ETB

01/11 6:30 p.m. SCARSDALE

01/16 7:10 p.m. @IRVINGTON

01/18 6:30 p.m. BRIARCLIFF

01/26 7:15 p.m. @SUFFERN

02/01 6:30 p.m. ETB

02/08 6:30 p.m. NEW ROCHELLE

Chris Corrado carries the ball against Woodlands. Corrado’s speed should come in handy when the Tigers take on the Eagles on Nov. 14.

Tigers gear up for regionals

 

 

Sophomore Matt Annunziata takes a snap during an early season game against Woodlands. Annunziata has looked sharp in recent weeks and could be in line for a big game against Roscoe-Downsville.

Sophomore Matt Annunziata takes a snap during an early season game against Woodlands. Annunziata has looked sharp in recent weeks and could be in line for a big game against Roscoe-Downsville.

By MIKE SMITH
With regionals on the horizon, Tuckahoe’s football team has spent the better part of the last two weeks gearing up for its biggest game of the season. With Section IX Roscoe-Downsville’s one-sided victory over Eldred on Nov. 6, the Tigers officially have an opponent for their Nov. 14 contest, although according to head coach Tom Itri, the Tigers fully expected to be taking on the Eagles all along.

Last Friday, Roscoe-Downsville won the Section IX title with a 40-8 romp over the winless Yellow Jackets, setting up a showdown with Section I champ Tuckahoe this weekend. As Itri and the Tuckahoe coaching staff continue to pore through footage of their next opponent, they are beginning to gameplan against the 6-3 Eagles.

According to Itri, the one-sided nature of many of Roscoe-Downsville’s wins initially made it tough to pinpoint the strengths of the Eagles team.

Tuckahoe defenders drag down a Woodlands ball carrier.

Tuckahoe defenders drag down a Woodlands ball carrier.

“We’ve been starting to watch more tapes, but it’s difficult because a lot of the teams they beat were a little bit down this year,” Itri said. “But we were able to see a little more in the games they lost to teams like Liberty (10-0).”

The Tigers and the Eagles have a common opponent in Chester, which topped Tuckahoe 40-6 and bested the Eagles 62-13. But even in that regard, Itri said it wasn’t easy to draw definite conclusions. Tuckahoe sat many of its starters, including Chris Corrado and Christian Pinto, against the Hambletonians in order to preserve them for Tuckahoe’s section championship game against Haldane, which was played the following week.

“We didn’t have a lot of success [against Chester], but we rested a lot of two-way starters,” Itri said. “So those tapes weren’t too telling.”

But although he couldn’t use the Chester game as a true measuring stick, Itri said he has begun to see what the Eagles will bring to the table on Saturday. Roscoe-Downsville has size on the line, and although they aren’t quite as big as some of the teams Tuckahoe has faced this year, Itri said it’s something his team needs to be ready for. Itri feels that Tuckahoe has the advantage in the skill positions, with players like Corrado and Pinto able to create plays in space against the larger Eagles’ front.

A Tuckahoe receiver hauls in a pass against Woodlands. Photos/Mike Smith

A Tuckahoe receiver hauls in a pass against Woodlands. Photos/Mike Smith

“They have a little beef up front, but it doesn’t scare us,” he said. “We have an edge in speed and athleticism, and we run a lot of misdirection which should help us get to the outside.”

Itri also  believes that the continued maturation of sophomore quarterback Matt Annunziata is a definite plus for the Tigers. Annunziata shined in Tuckahoe’s Class D championship win against Haldane and has shown great poise under pressure  in the last few weeks.

“I think he’s got all the bugs out,” Itri said. “He was a bit timid earlier in the season, but he’s been playing very well lately and should be successful this week.”

Lastly, Itri points to convenient scheduling as another plus for his Tigers this week. Roscoe-Downsville and Tuckahoe will square off at 10:30 a.m. at Sleepy Hollow High School, which means the Eagles will need to be up early to make the nearly two-hour drive down south.

“Not only is it close for us, but we know how far they have to travel,” Itri said. “That’s a definite advantage.”

contact: sports@hometwn.com

Chris Corrado carries the ball against Woodlands. Corrado’s speed should come in handy when the Tigers take on the Eagles on Nov. 14.

Chris Corrado carries the ball against Woodlands. Corrado’s speed should come in handy when the Tigers take on the Eagles on Nov. 14.

 
MikeSmith

Column: Tears of joy

New Rochelle quarterback Greg Powell breaks down after the Huguenots’ 44-25 win over John Jay in the Class AA finals on Nov. 7. The Huguenots’ emotional win was especially poignant for the senior signal caller.

New Rochelle quarterback Greg Powell breaks down after the Huguenots’ 44-25 win over John Jay in the Class AA finals on Nov. 7. The Huguenots’ emotional win was especially poignant for the senior signal caller.

Miles Harvey and Justin Cossifos look at the Section I championship plaque. For the first time since 2012, the Huguenots are Class AA champions.

Miles Harvey and Justin Cossifos look at the Section I championship plaque. For the first time since 2012, the Huguenots are Class AA champions.

New Rochelle head coach Lou DiRienzo leads his team in a postgame celebration. Photos/Mike Smith

New Rochelle head coach Lou DiRienzo leads his team in a postgame celebration. Photos/Mike Smith

Kevin Singletary flashes a big grin after the final whistle on Nov. 7. The Huguenots will be back in action on Nov. 14 in the Class AA regional finals against Newburgh.

Kevin Singletary flashes a big grin after the final whistle on Nov. 7. The Huguenots will be back in action on Nov. 14 in the Class AA regional finals against Newburgh.

One of my favorite postgame celebration moments ever came in 2013 after the Detroit Tigers clinched a playoff berth. The Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland, a notoriously prickly customer, was speaking with a few reporters outside of the clubhouse when the enormity of the situation seemed to sneak up on him. While discussing his team’s achievements that year, the baseball lifer began to stumble over his words, his eyes welling up, until he was rescued by veteran outfielder Torii Hunter, who hoisted up the 67-year-old skipper and carried him out of the room and into the midst of the players’ celebration. Leyland was then doused in champagne and beer, and performed a nifty moonwalk to the raucous cheers of his ballclub.

Simply put, it was an almost-perfect celebration.

I was reminded of Leyland and the Tigers on Saturday, as I found myself on the sidelines at Yorktown High School for the Class AA football championship.

With a 44-25 win over John Jay on Nov. 7, the New Rochelle Huguenots won their first section title since 2012. But out of everything about New Rochelle’s play—the big defensive stops, the offensive explosion—it was how they celebrated their win that is going to stick with me.

New Rochelle’s players were hardly uniform in their reactions, and with more than 50 players suited up on the sidelines, how could they be? Sophomore running back Jared Baron, a youngster who has emerged as one of the section’s top players quite early on in his short varsity career, had a delirious ear-to-ear grin as he bounded across the field to hug his teammates. Senior lineman Justin Cossifos, who helped anchor the Huguenots’ defense all year, got his hands on the Section I championship plaque and stared at it in disbelief, almost like he couldn’t quite comprehend what he and his teammates had just accomplished.

And then there was quarterback Greg Powell.

For a team as deep as New Rochelle, one that has succeeded not because of one player’s efforts but a collective team play, Powell’s spot as the starting quarterback has made him the de facto face of the program, something that was certainly not lost on him as he broke down in the arms of teammates and coaches after the final whistle blew.

All the pressure of leading the Huguenots back to the promised land was lifted from his shoulders on Saturday, and his recognition of that was a beautiful thing to watch.

Of course, New Rochelle’s story isn’t over yet.

With their regional final matchup with Newburgh looming on Nov. 14, the Huguenots were back at work on Monday, getting ready to tackle their latest challenge.

But on Saturday, none of that mattered. The only thing on the minds of New Rochelle’s players and fans was letting the program’s biggest win in three years sink in.

They’ll have all week to come down from their win over John Jay, but at least they got the chance to enjoy the ride for a few minutes.

And isn’t that why we all love sports?

Follow Mike on Twitter
@LiveMike_Sports