Rye High Football
Garnets Prepare for “The Game”
by Mitch Silver
Head Coach Dino Garr’s Rye High football team plays traditional rival Harrison in a special edition of The Game a week from Sunday. They’ll go into the contest at Nugent Stadium as the leader in the all-time series (43 wins versus 42 losses) for the first time in half a century, thanks to their current 15-wins-in-16-games streak against their neighbors.
First, though, they’ll have to rinse the stinging taste of defeat out of their mouths caused by the 49-28 crunching they received at the hands of unbeaten Clarkstown South a week ago. In that bizarrely refereed game — with penalties being walked off before being walked back more than once — the high-powered Vikings’ offense nearly matched their season’s average of 50+ points a game while limiting the home team to a single score in the second half, putting the game out of reach by the start of the fourth quarter.
Afterward, Coach Garr said, “That was a really good team Coach Mike Scarpelli put out on the field. At halftime, when we were down 35-22, I urged my guys to win the second half. But they scored too quick for that to happen.”
Tomorrow’s 1:30 p.m. game at 1-3 Eastchester shapes up as a palate cleanser for the 3-1 Garnets, although it has all the earmarks of a classic trap game. People’s Exhibit 1: Eastchester lost 23-0 to the Sleepy Hollow team Rye beat 46-7 two weeks ago. Beware.
Let’s look ahead to the Harrison game, even if the Garnets shouldn’t. A new pre-kickoff ritual has been incorporated: all 33 former winners of Chris Mello Memorial Scholarships
have been invited onto the field for the announcement of the 2018 winners, one from each school. A golf outing and dinner this Thursday is being held to raise money for the stipends given to the player on each team with the qualities of sportsmanship, competitiveness, academic achievement, and leadership embodied by Chris, captain of the Garnets 25 years ago and a victim of the 9/11 tragedy.
As to the game itself, we asked Harrison Head Coach Dom Zanot if the history of the Rye-Harrison rivalry played any part in the Huskies’ approach to the game — especially with them falling behind in the all-time ledger. Zanot replied, “The history absolutely plays a role, especially in the build-up during the school week. There’s the Sportsmanship Luncheon put on by the Rotary Clubs, the Pep Rally and Bonfire, along with various alums who come back to give the team words of encouragement.
“However, during practice we follow our normal weekly schedule. Because, when the whistle blows for the opening kick off, the execution of our offense, defense, and special teams is what determines the outcome of the game.”
And how does it feel to coach against Dino Garr, who won his 300th high school football game a couple of weeks ago?
“First, I don’t look at it as a Dino Garr vs. Dominic Zanot game, but the Harrison Huskies vs. Rye Garnets game. However, Dino Garr has been coaching football for 40 years. That’s longer, literally, than I’ve been alive! His 300 wins clearly prove his worth as a coach and it is clear that Rye football has been on quite a run over the last 15 years.
“It is an honor to compete in such a prestigious game against a legend, but, as I said before…when the opening kickoff takes place, the energy of our entire staff is put into helping our players execute our game plan.”
Back in Rye, Coach Garr said simply, “It’s a great tradition here,” Garr said. “I’m very fortunate.”
As for The Game itself, junior quarterback Declan Lavelle has thrown more passes for more yards this season than any Rye QB in years. So far he’s amassed 200 more yards than his counterpart, the Huskies’ seasoned veteran Frank Nannariello. Not surprisingly, Rye junior receivers Chad Antico and Matt Tepedino have caught more balls for more yardage than Harrison’s leader, Alex Siapanides. And Rye’s Brendan Lavelle is just six yards behind Siapanides. On the ground, the Huskies’ Justin Altimuro leads all the other rushers for both teams.
Will the Harrison ground game work well enough to keep Rye’s aerial circus off the field long enough to win? That’s what the lines on both sides of the ball are going to determine. It should be a whale of a game.
Garnets on a gang tackle
LaVelle zings one into the flat
Cutting right, with escort
JWGarr After 300 wins, Coach Garr tries a little meditation
Garnets will count on their veteran line to push the Huskies around.
Dino Garr talks it over with the ref.
It took three Garnets to bring down the Vikings’ Johnathon Thom.
The Vikings’ line won the battle of the trenches.