It’s been a tough 2015 for Rye Neck. In June, all-Westchester running back Dom Brescia graduated, as did the Black Hats’ quarterback, leading receiver, and top defensive back, leaving a group of untested underclassmen to open the season.
By Mitch Silver
It’s been a tough 2015 for Rye Neck. In June, all-Westchester running back Dom Brescia graduated, as did the Black Hats’ quarterback, leading receiver, and top defensive back, leaving a group of untested underclassmen to open the season. Then, with only two other schools small enough to qualify for Class C, Coach Nick Ianello and Athletic Director Joe Ceglia had to scrounge around for teams to play. They settled for matchups with out-of-area squads, including — amazingly — Warrensburg High, located off the New York State Northway at exit 23, above Glens Falls.
When the smoke cleared, the team found itself beating Tuckahoe 26-7 behind Gio Maffei’s three touchdowns. The Panthers played Woodlands October 24 for the (three-team) Class C title. The Falcons had thumped the Panthers 44-18 earlier in the season, but the locals did themselves proud by holding the defending champs to a 14-6 decision.
So the Black Hats were looking to the final game at home against Roosevelt for a little redemption, a way to end the season on an up note. Imagine their surprise when the visitors showed up last Saturday with only 14 players. Was it a Halloween trick? It certainly wasn’t a treat. With everyone suited up and ready to go, they could only stand and watch as the Roosevelt players got off the bus, stretched, and got right back on the bus to Yonkers.
What to do? Disappointed football players, cheerleaders, students, and fans were thinking of heading for their cars when Ianello and his fellow Rye Neck coaches came up with the idea of an intra-squad scrimmage in full gear.
They repaired to the coaches’ room, where they held a “draft” to split everyone up into a Black Team and a White Team. The game they played for the next hour included every player on the squad, even the kids who are usually at the end of the bench.
Afterwards, Coach Ianello said, “Funny, but it was probably the most fun we’ve had all year. These kids have real spirit, and it showed in the way they put their disappointment aside and joined in.”
Who won, the Black team or the White? Wouldn’t you know it, the game ended in a tie.