By Mitch Silver
The pandemic may have delayed Rye High’s 2020 football campaign, but when a special “Fall 2” season began last month, Garnets’ junior Caden Whaling hit the ground running. And running. And running.
In the team’s first two games, the running back gained 179 yards against Pelham and topped that with 233 yards, also on the road, against Sleepy Hollow. He’s followed that up with 117 yards against Yorktown and 140 against Eastchester, for a four-game average of more than 165 yards a game — tops in Section 1. He’s scored nine touchdowns in all, leading the Garnets to a 4-0 record going into last Saturday’s final game against Harrison.
His play on the gridiron has led the Rye Lions Club, together with the Rye High Athletic Department, to name the tall blond speedster the school’s Athlete of the Month for March.
In nominating Whaling for the honor, Head Coach Dino Garr said: “Caden’s a great athlete. If the line creates even a little hole, he’ll find it. Plus, he’s got great leadership skills, which is why he’s one of our captains as a junior.” Garr added, “Caden’s like another coach on the field. He’s got a great football IQ.”
The young man’s IQ in the classroom is just as high. He’s already been accepted at the University of North Carolina over a year ahead of time, looking to major in business and minor in computer science. “I love my Advanced Placement class in Computer Science, and I hope to take the AP Economics course as a senior.”
Rye Athletic Director Susan E. Reid Dullea offered high praise for March’s Lions Club honoree: “Caden is an exceptional football player; he is a true competitor. As a junior captain he has had four outstanding games. However, his talents are not just within the playing field. He is a mature, polite young man who sets high standards for himself and his teammates. He is passionate about the game and demonstrates all of the qualities of what a true student-athlete embodies.”
Whaling traded in his football pads for a lacrosse stick immediately after the Harrison game. “I’m a midfielder for Rye High, and I also play on an outside team, the Predators. I plan to continue playing lacrosse at Chapel Hill; they have a wonderful program.”
The Lions seek students of good character and a willingness to serve outside of school. Caden said he plans to use his sports background to contribute to Bronx Lacrosse, a full-day, year-round academic- and sports-based youth development program whose mission is to improve educational and life opportunities for underserved students in the South Bronx through the sport of lacrosse.
Whaling credits his parents, who both played varsity sports in college, for exposing him to athletics at an early age. “I also want to thank my coaches and our team’s offensive line. I wouldn’t have achieved success without them.”
If Covid-19 restrictions permit, the monthly Lions Club winners will be invited to the Lions’ year-end awards dinner at The Osborn. That night, the winner of the vote by the Rye High student body for Athlete of the Year will be announced. This just might be the year a member of the school’s junior class takes home the honor.