It was homecoming at Rye Country Day School October 18. Dozens of alumni joined students and parents in the stands for the big Wildcat Weekend football game against St. Luke’s School of New Canaan.
By Mitch Silver
It was homecoming at Rye Country Day School October 18. Dozens of alumni joined students and parents in the stands for the big Wildcat Weekend football game against St. Luke’s School of New Canaan. And just like ants at a picnic, the St. Luke’s Storm soured the festivities with a hard-fought 20-13 win over the home team.
The result was in doubt right up to the final play. What had been a 12-7 halftime deficit for the Wildcats widened to 20-7 on a 60-yard touchdown run around right end by sophomore speedster Justin Brown, who came into the game averaging 9.3 yards a carry. The successful two-point conversion had the Wildcats in a deep hole with 8:05 left in the third quarter, but they came right back on the next play.
Junior Ryan Wolitzer scooped up the squib kick at his own 25, looked to be stopped at midfield but broke away for a sensational 75-yard scamper for the score. The locals would have been happier had Wolitzer not grabbed his hamstring at the end of the run (though he would stay in the game). The point after sailed wide right on a gusty day to make it 20-13, still a one-score game.
Wolitzer provided more heroics by recovering a St. Luke’s fumble on the second play of the final period. Running slant after slant off tackle, the locals moved the ball inside the red zone. The Storm defense stiffened and stuffed an attempted lateral on the 4th down at the 10-yard line with eight minutes left on the clock.
Rye Country Day’s own D forced a punt, but the offense could do nothing and had to kick the ball back. The defense stopped Brown twice more for losses before he finally broke off another big gainer with 2:59 left. Then, with 65 seconds to go, Rye Country Day had the ball again on their own 35. After two short pass completions, the Wildcats’ own speedy sophomore Jared Jones — averaging over 10 yards per carry — couldn’t reach the first-down sticks and smartly stepped out of bounds to stop the clock with 34 seconds. They converted on the next play. But a couple of incomplete passes forced junior QB Reed Connor to throw a Hail Mary into the end zone, where an interception ended the game.
After the game, Coach John Calandros told his men, “I’m very proud of you; they have two Division I recruits on that team. No way is our season over.” Asked to sum up the contest in a single word, he quickly said, “Physical.”
With three more games on the regular schedule, how has the season gone so far? “This is probably the hardest-working group I’ve had here,” said the coach. “I’d say we’ve completely over-achieved.”
The Wildcats travel to Hamden Hall October 25 and to King November 1 before hosting Kingswood-Oxford November 8.