By Mitch Silver
Going into their night game September 24, Rye High’s football team hadn’t lost. Across the field, Sleepy Hollow’s team hadn’t won. The game they played at Nugent Stadium wasn’t in much doubt along the way, with the Garnets taking a 28-0 lead after halftime before the Headless Horsemen could get on the board.
There was only one discordant element in Head Coach Dino Garr’s entire evening: penalties. The visiting team was called for only one violation the entire game, a five-yard delay-of-game penalty. The Garnets were flagged eight times in the first half, most of them for offensive holding that called back a couple of big gains and a Caden Whaling touchdown run.
I asked Coach Garr about them, which amounted to one whistle for every three offensive plays, and how he planned to clean them up before the game against a much tougher opponent, undefeated Harrison, this coming Saturday. He said, “They all, or almost all, were called by the same official on the far side of the field. You know, you could call a penalty for something on every play; I think this particular official might have been influenced by their sidelines. But yes, we’ll do what we have to to clean it up.”
Caden Whaling’s play doesn’t need any cleaning up. The Chapel Hill-bound senior carried the ball only 13 times in the game and gained 218 yards and four touchdowns on the evening. Many of those runs were of the juke-and-jive variety, making tacklers miss with nearly imperceptible body movements.
Quarterback Owen Kovacs also had a strong game, passing for 115 yards and rushing for another 51 more.
Senior P.J. Egan scored the only TD Whaling didn’t, an 18-yard scoring strike.
Junior Cole Bartlett had 18 receiving and 22 catching. Three seniors — Ryan Surhoff, Jack McRedmond, and Mason McComb — had catches that gained another 90 yards. On defense, senior Sam Mead grabbed a timely interception, while classmate Jack Garnett had five tackles.
Now, all thoughts turn to The Game, which will be played this year at Harrison High School at 3:30 p.m., because the SAT’s are being held in the morning.
When asked what makes the Huskies tougher this year, Garr replied, “Well, they were pretty good last year. We only beat them by a touchdown, 21-13. They’re bigger — bigger than they were last year and appreciably bigger than we are. We’ll have to execute our plays flawlessly to get around that, though our line play has been a bright spot all year for our team. Remember, we only had two returning players on our offensive line, but the new guys are quick learners.
“One more thing makes Harrison tougher. They have another year under Coach Ciraco, who’s very good. I think it’s gonna be a helluva game.”
Rye now leads the series by 48 wins to 42 defeats and three ties, the largest margin the Garnets have ever enjoyed.