The rivalry between Rye High and Harrison High is storied, and the story began in 1929. Four years later, the Garnets beat the Huskies for the first time. Each team has had their decade, their era, but from 2003 until 2022 Rye won every matchup. Last October, the Huskies ended the streak, beating Rye decisively, 22-7, on Rye’s home turf.
Four of the players who were on the Garnets 2022 team — Shep Griffiths, Jason Gonzalez, AJ Miller, and Charlie Saurack — are now the senior co-captains. They’re gearing up for “The Game”, which will be played at Harrison on September 2 at 1:30.
When they invited us to meet them at Nugent Field after practice on a beautiful August evening, we were there. As we walked across the bridge, a deer walked gracefully by us and on to the field. He too was curious about the strong, young men who, as Miller, the quarterback, noted, “have been going at this every day since May.” Gonzalez, a linebacker and guard, said, “We’re prepared for the heat on September 2.” For Griffiths, a wide receiver and cornerback, “This game matters most because we lost to them. We’re disciplined and we’re conditioned and we’re confident.”
In between captain-led practices all summer, ninety minutes of weight training every day, the 50 members of the team have been hitting the gym, many of them at Prana Fitness in White Plains. Saurack, a defensive and offensive lineman, said, “We’re going to physically dominate Harrison, and outlast them.”
The Garnets have a good balance of players this season, noted the captains. They didn’t lose many top players to graduation and they’re looking forward to playing alongside up-and-comers like Chris Iuliano, a lacrosse player who brings speed.
All four captains were quick to say that having Coach Dino Garr “in your ear” is a big motivator because he commands respect. “He’s a football coach through and through,” said Gonzalez. “He makes you play the game right.” Miller’s dad played under Coach Garr and “still talks about how great he was!”
While all four captains play other high school sports, and play them well — Saurack plays golf, Gonzalez rugby, and Miller and Griffiths baseball — it is their deep connections with the football coaches and staff, starting with Coach Garr, that fuel a special fire. And as they said on the field that night, “The cheerleaders are amazing!”
We caught up with Dino Garr, who is now entering his 47th year as Head Coach of the Garnets, after a long day’s practice this week. “Every coach will tell you that his team is special, but I have truly never seen a team as hard-working and fired up as the 2023 Football team. They, especially the seniors, feel an urgency because the game against Harrison is coming up fast, September 2.” He added, “My guys are dedicated to being the best. They’re Garnets first, but they have developed an extraordinary camaraderie and are united in their quest to best Harrison.”