The teams share a post-game handshake] The teams meet after a clean, hard-fought game.
Rye High Football
Rye Wallops Yorktown 41-7 for Section Title
By Mitch Silver
The Sectional final was supposed to be close. If there was an edge, the experts gave it to the team across the way from the Garnets Friday night on the Mahopac field.
Last week, a coach whose team played them both was asked who would win the game. He said, “Rye has a pretty good line with Greto and a good center (Griffin) Meyers, but Yorktown’s line was better in our game…I would give Yorktown the edge.”
Josh Thompson of The Journal News then wrote: “With the wind and cold kicking up, it could make it difficult for Rye to throw the ball effectively. If Yorktown wins, it will be because the Huskers run, block, and tackle better and Section 1’s leading rusher Dylan Smith has a big game. I think that can happen. Yorktown over Rye, 21-16.”
But no, the Huskers didn’t run, block, or tackle better than Rye. And they certainly didn’t drop back, throw, and catch better than the Garnets, who won the Section 1 title Friday night by crushing Yorktown, 41-7.
The game was scoreless for most of the first quarter, but Rye was making plays. Forced to punt after the first series from just inside Yorktown territory, Declan Lavelle neatly dropped one at the 10 yard-line. Then the Garnets forced a three-and-out and, after a couple of short runs by sophomore Caden Whaling, gained 14 when Lavelle hit Matt Tepedino at Yorktown’s 34.
Maybe it was early-game jitters, maybe it was the wind, maybe it was the fact his arm was hit attempting to throw into the end zone on third down, but Lavelle was unable to convert and the Huskers got the ball back at the 34. Was Thompson right about the conditions affecting Rye’s attack?
He certainly didn’t count on the Garnets’ defense. After holding Dylan Smith, the Section’s leading rusher, twice and forcing an incompletion, Rye broke through…literally. Thanks to a looping snap, senior linebacker Blake Norton blocked the fourth-down punt, setting Lavelle & Co. up for business at the Yorktown 28.
A catch in traffic by Quinn Kelly gave the number-three seeds the ball at the 17. Lavelle found him again, this time in the left corner of the end zone with highly-touted defender Keith Boyer draped all over him. Touchdown. Freddie Clarke’s first of five PATs on the night made it 7-0 with 2:44 left in the period.
The Huskers took the kickoff at their 25. But Smith was thrown for a nine-yard loss when the senior trio of James Mackle, Norton, and Dylan Webb dropped him. A punt, a Rye penalty, and another for delay of game set the Garnets back to their own 22. Lavelle got five on a keeper to end the quarter. He got another five on a couple of runs to start the second period. Then, with the senior QB scrambling to his right and heaving the ball with the wind, Tepedino rose up and made a wonder grab for a 35-yard gain.
The two Lavelles, Declan and cousin Brendan, would gain seven yards before it was Quinn Kelly’s turn to come up big with a sideline catch at the 11. It was third and 8 when Tepedino made a left-to-right jaunt that had him standing on the goal line when the ball arrived. Touchdown number two. 14-0 Rye.
A minute later, the Huskers were looking to pass on third and 10. The ball was caught and then stripped out of the receiver’s hands by senior DB Hayden Reno. Four minutes later, another great defensive play saw Norton and his friends—senior Derek Saurack and sophomore Aidan Cunningham—throw the Huskers for a 10-yard loss.
Rye’s third score came from another Husker fumble, this one by Boyer at the Rye 47. Lavelle gained seven yards before he was crunched by a tackler. On the next play, he absorbed another big hit but found Kelly on the right side at the Yorktown 19. Tepedino took the next one, shaking and baking to the nine. Brendan Lavelle caught a quick pass to the five before Tepedino snared his second TD in the far right corner with 40 seconds to halftime.
The scoreboard read 21-0, but it didn’t stay that way. On the next play from scrimmage, quarterback Trevvon Johnson was picked off by, well, Matt Tepedino. He tightroped down the left sideline for 55 yards and Rye’s fourth touchdown, sending the Garnets to the locker room up 28-0.
The second half was more of the same, with senior Peter Patouhas, juniors Jack Bartlett , Christopher Nemsick, and Jack Griffiths making big plays on defense. Then, when Rye got the ball back, Whaling fumbled at the Yorktown 43. You knew it was Rye’s, and Tepedino’s, night when the senior receiver/DB recovered for the Garnets.
With the third seeds taking their time, a couple of Whaling runs and a catch brought the pigskin to the Yorktown 14. Somehow, Tepedino came wide open in the right end zone. His catch made it 34-0, though the extra point was blocked.
The rest of the third quarter had the PA announcer intoning “Mackle on the tackle” more than once, as Head Coach Dino Garr’s men smothered the fifth-seeded Huskers.
With the third quarter winding down, it was Caden Time. Whaling recovered a fumble, ran for six yards as the period ended, and shimmied his way over left tackle to the Yorktown 5. With Cornell commit Preston Greto clearing the way, Whaling went in for Rye’s sixth touchdown at 11:12.
The Huskers would get on the board with seven minutes left, but they didn’t even try to hustle as the clock ran down, acknowledging their fate. Final score, 41-7, on the same Mahopac field where the Garnets came up four yards short in the 2018 final to John Jay-Cross River. Afterwards, Coach Garr said, “We had to come back and learn from it. The boys did a great job.”
Did they ever. Tepedino scored four times, with a team-high nine catches for 120 yards. Running mate Quinn Kelly had five catches for 66 yards and a scoring grab. Lavelle, now a two-time 2,000-yard passer, finished 15 of 23 for 188 yards and four scores on a freezing night. Blake Norton was named most outstanding lineman (okay, linebacker) with two sacks and that blocked punt. Lavelle was named the outstanding back.
In a bit of New York State craziness, the Garnets will be back at Mahopac Friday night at 7:30 p.m. to take on Section 3 runner-up Auburn, in the State Regional final. Auburn lost to Carthage 55-7 in the Section 3 title game. Go figure.