STATE CHAMPIONS!

0:00 Garnets Defeat Maine-Endwell 28-7 to Take Class B Title Coach Dino Garr had a few simple words for his Garnets after they trampled Maine-Endwell […]

Published December 14, 2023 5:13 PM
4 min read

0:00

Garnets Defeat Maine-Endwell 28-7 to Take Class B Title

Coach Dino Garr had a few simple words for his Garnets after they trampled Maine-Endwell at the Dome in Syracuse on Sunday, Dec. 3, to win their first state championship since 2008.

“We wanted to be the best, you played the best, and now, we are the best!” he said.

Maine-Endwell, a Class B powerhouse that entered the game on a 34-game win streak, had won the state title the previous two years, and this season had scored 595 points in just 12 games before Sunday’s clash with Rye. 

Nothing about the Garnets’ championship season, on the other hand, was simple. They had early season losses, injuries to key players, and a flood at Nugent Stadium. Now the Garnets will forever remember their journey to becoming state champions while overcoming so many challenges along the way.

“From 2-2 to here, everything came together,” quarterback A.J. Miller said after the game. “The offense, the D, the line, special teams, even the freshman, it’s all love. It hasn’t hit me yet honestly. But this group has been so good together.”

The Dome was electric throughout the game, as the Rye fans who made the trip exploded when the Garnets made key plays that shifted the momentum in their favor. 

The Garnets shut down a potent Spartan offense, which coming into the game had not scored fewer than 28 points in a matchup. The Spartans had opened the playoffs with a dominating 69-21 win against Owego Free Academy. 

But the Garnets held Maine-Endwell to just seven points, the Spartans’ lowest total since 2021.

During their first possession of the game, the Garnets kept control of the ball for more than eight minutes and scored on a Chris Iuliano rushing touchdown and, after a penalty against Maine-Endwell, a two-point conversion. That gave Rye an 8-0 lead heading into the second quarter.

Iuliano rushed for 103 yards and 3 scores on the day, finishing the season with 24 touchdowns and averaging more than 100 yards per game, the most by any Garnet in both categories this season.

On the Spartans’ next possession, Charlie Saurack took over. He had a sack on third down, and on the next play blocked the Spartans’ punt. Senior Koen Turloew scooped up the ball in the endzone for the Garnets second score of the game.

“It was pure adrenaline rushing through me,” Turloew recalled. “I saw Charlie block that punt, and I got it. I wanted a touchdown in the dome for I don’t know how long, so I was pretty happy after that.” 

Rye’s defense has been dominant over the final stretch of the season, aided by the return of Saurack and Turloew to the starting lineup. Despite playing in just seven of the team’s 14 games, Saurack led the team in sacks with five, and tackles per game with 6.3. 

Turloew came up with two key sacks in both the section championship against Pleasantville and the regional championship against Port Jervis. With the punt recovery and touchdown on Sunday, he is just one of just three Garnets over the last two seasons with a defensive score. 

The Spartans faced an uphill battle as they tried to come back, despite multiple Garnet turnovers. The Rye defense continued to keep Maine-Endwell out of the red zone, and forced turnovers of their own, putting pressure on the Spartans offense.

Ameer White forced a fumble, and Andrew Wilmarth and Carson Miller each had interceptions, allowing the Garnets to mount two more scoring drives and push the lead to 21. Wilmarth and Carson Miller finished the season as first and second respectively in interceptions, and White led the team in forced fumbles with three. 

It’s rare to see Coach Garr smile, even after a win, but he was grinning from ear to ear after the championship victory, the fourth of his career of more than 40 years. 

“I wanted them to believe that we could do what we did today,” Garr said after the game. “Coaching Rye has been my life’s dream, and that’s the thing about dreams, when you imagine them, anything can happen, right?” 

The win was the second state championship for the Garnets this fall, following a recent girls soccer state title.

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