Ball carrier Caden Whaling spots an opening.
By Mitch Silver
The scoreboard said the “Rams” beat the “Visitors” by four touchdowns to two September 11 at Port Chester High School. But the local Rams, playing an away game, had loaned their field to the Rye Garnets. And Rye, now the designated “home” team on this borrowed gridiron, had just polished off another group of Rams from Clarkstown North.
All the confusion was due to the soaking Hurricane Ida gave the turf field at Rye’s Nugent Stadium. When asked about the adjustments the coaching staff had made to deal with the water, Head Coach Dino Garr said, “We’ve been making adjustments all year. We’ve practiced at Rye Country Day, at Holy Child…we still don’t know when our home field will be available.”
Wherever they practiced, the work paid off. Last week, the team traveled to Our Lady of Lourdes and came away with the victory. This week, senior running back Caden Whaling carried the ball 31 times, gaining 200 yards on the ground and racking up three touchdowns. QB Owen Kovacs connected for the fourth TD with fellow senior Ryan Surhoff.
On the opening series, Clarkstown North returned the ball to their own 40-yard-line. A first down had the ball inside Rye territory, but a big-time tackle by senior Carter Barford forced a punt.
Whaling took a handoff at his own 18 and ran off left tackle for 12 yards. Then he gained nine. Senior Mason McComb made a nice over-the-shoulder catch to bring the ball to the Rye 46. Then Whaling ran it six straight times, eventually dragging two defenders over the goal line from the four. Senior Tommaso Grani nailed the first of his four PATs.
The Rams came back with a TD of their own at the start of the second period, but Surhoff blocked the point after. It was 7-6 Rye.
The Garnets began the next series at their own 20. Whaling ran twice for a first down, and then Kovacs passed to Surhoff at the Rye 44. McComb gained three before Kovacs, looking to pass, tucked it away and scampered to the visiting 31-yard-line. Kovacs ran for eight and then Whaling cruised around left end for his second touchdown.
Clarkstown fumbled on their next series, recovered by Rye’s Teddy Berkery. Four Whaling runs brought the ball into the Rams’ red zone, where Kovacs hit Surhoff in the right corner of the end zone, making the score 21-6 at the half.
The third quarter began with sophomore Rafferty McSweeney returning the kickoff to the Rye 40. But an interception was returned by Clarkstown all the way to the Garnets’ 10. Three runs brought the ball to the five, where McComb intercepted it with one hand in the end zone and ran it out to the 15.
The next Rye effort featured a feathered pass to Barford at the Rye 40. Then a 50-yard bomb just went off the fingers of senior Jack McRedmond. That’s when the Rams intercepted for the second time, eventually making the longest run of the day — 64 yards — down the right sideline to the Garnets’ 8. Four plays later, a minute into the fourth quarter, they scored from the 1. Clarkstown North went for two, but Ryan Surhoff hauled down the ball carrier short of the goal, making the score Rye 21, Rams 12.
Rye’s McRedmond had to punt after a three-and-out. The return brought the ball to midfield, but a couple of penalties set the Rams back to their own 34. Tough Garnet D forced a Ram punt to the Rye 30 with eight minutes to play.
A combination of runs by Whaling and Kovacs brought the ball to the visiting team’s 18. Then, on maybe his best run of the day, Whaling juked and jived his way past multiple defenders to score. Grani made his fourth point-after, then nailed a huge kick-off over the head of the receiver to seal the game.
Afterwards, Coach Garr praised his young offensive line. “Jack Garnet and Aidan Cunningham are our returning seniors, but the whole group did an outstanding job.”
Rye next travels across the river to take on Tappan Zee Friday at 7 p.m. [JN1]