The Black Hats four-year journey culminated in a legendary season.
By Melanie Cane
The Black Hats four-year journey culminated in a legendary season. The team made history beginning with the first-ever sectional championship and ending with a trip to the State finals at the Carrier Dome. But the celebration never happened.
After cruising to a league title, followed by a section title and a regional title, Rye Neck rushed to the state championship by crushing Burke Catholic 47-6 in the quarters and shutting out Hoosick Falls, 14-0 in the semis. Amazingly, The Black Hats only gave up three touchdowns in post-season play on their way to Syracuse.
Their storybook ride ended in the final four minutes of the State Championship.
The Black Hats went into the second half knotted at 21 with New York State Legends, Chenango Falls. Three different players — Matt Garcia, Ryan Morningstar, and Jake Calvini — scored the three touchdowns in the first half. (Morningstar and Calvini ended the season with 14 touchdowns each.) Little did they know that a failed two-point conversion after Morningstar’s 88-yard touchdown would come back to haunt them.
In the second half, Chenango took a 28-21 lead, but with less than five minutes left in the game, Jake Sevean made it 28-27 on a 9-yard rushing touchdown. Coach Nick Ianello called a time-out to discuss the team’s next move. Their fateful decision was to try for the two-point conversion, which, had it worked, would have won the game.
Quarterback Thomas Pipolo handed the ball to Pedro M. Cueto, but he was stuffed, and just like that, in a blink of the eye, the team knew the parade was canceled.
Coach Ianello feels he let the team down, but said, “Even though we lost, we are winners in our hearts and will always be family.” Pipolo, speaking for the team, said, “We’ve fought so hard since we were freshmen. This was an amazing journey and we will be brothers for the rest of our lives.”
— Photos by Julia Ianello