Game Balls: Week 7
Honoring the best of high school football for now seven weeks, here are the always controversial Game Balls.
It was difficult to weigh playoff games vs. regular season finales, but I think I balanced it out pretty well.
Honorable mention: John Kiechle, Carmel; Johnny Costanzo, Eastchester; Rodney Benjamin, Mount Vernon; James Bonsall, Rye; Nick McKoy, RCDS; Jon Cross, Tappan Zee; Jonathan Trock, Scarsdale; Henry Smith, Somers; Dan Datino, Rye Neck; Chris Bocklet, John Jay; Ryan Shilling, Carmel; Robert Pope, Mount Vernon; Peter LaMacchia, Fordham Prep.
10. Matt Paskalides, Edgemont: The only Section 1 player on this list not still playing for a title, Paskalides definitely earns my respect. After missing part of the season with an ankle injury, he's come back strong. Against Kennedy on Saturday, he rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries, and caught three passes for 63 yards and two scores.
9. Jesse DeBiase, Westlake: The Wildcats upset Putnam Valley in a Class B quarterfinal behind a stellar game from DeBiase. He rushed for 125 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries, and returned a game-changing 56-yard punt for another score.
8. Chris Murray, Bronxville: All this kid does is put up big numbers and carry his team to wins. Trailing 12-0 to Valhalla in the first half, Murray took over, scoring two touchdowns and setting up a third, and finished with 172 yards on 30 carries.
7. Eastchester's offensive line: I avoided doing this all season, but if one unit deserves a group game ball, this is it. Eastchester moved the ball at will for the most part against Harrison and carried the Eagles up and down the field. The names have been mentioned before - Greg Kutzin, Nick Orlando, Mike Todino, Justin Nader, Nick Gizzo and Kevin Doherty. They see most of the time and they deserve their due.
6. Jelani Doeman, Hackley: Unfortunately, we get so caught up in the Section 1 and CHSFL that we miss out on guys like Doeman. Against St. Luke's on Saturday, he rushed for 293 yards and five touchdowns on 20 carries. He also caught two passes for 49 yards. Wow. Had this been a bigger game or against better competition, he'd be much higher.
5. Nick Mainiero, Croton-Harmon: Who puts their QB on special teams? A coach who wants to pull a huge upset, that's who. Croton coach John Catano decided to give in and put Mainero on kickoff return and it paid, as he returned an 85-yard touchdown that decided Saturday's 19-14 win over top-seeded Albertus Magnus. Mainiero, a junior, also rushed for 97 yards on 11 carries.
4. Preston Soeprasetyo, Carmel: Few players have made my jaw drop in a long time as much as Soeprasetyo did on Sunday. He kept coming up with big catches, whether it was through traffic, by the sideline, or with his ability to find open space. He's got true wide receiver skills. Against Mahopac, he caught 10 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns, including the deciding score in the fourth quarter on a pretty pass from Ryan Shilling.
3. Tommy DiCarlo/Tony Panio, Eastchester: One play gets these guys high on this list. And they deserve it. DiCarlo, a freshman, was rushed in to play quarterback and connected with a leaping Panio on arguably the biggest play Eastchester football has seen in 20 years. The first down, off a 3rd-and-27 situation, set up the tying touchdown by Johnny Costanzo (153 yards rushing) and winning extra point by Liam Byrne.
2. Rashaad Slowley, Stepinac: You want to see what a Division I running back looks like? Go see Slowley. He's as close as there is in this area right now, and he showed it Saturday night's commanding 29-14 win over Fordham Prep. He rushed for 155 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, and caught two passes for 100 yards, including a 90-yarder where he jumped and snatched the ball between two defenders. Incredible play. Something tells me he's on the verge of a huge postseason.
And this week's Varsity Insider player of the week is...
1. Rob Lombardo, Somers: After watching Friday's 15-0 win over Fox Lane, I can't really decide whether Lombardo better at running back or defensive end. There's really no wrong answer. Lombardo rushed for 213 yards -- including touchdown runs of 91 and 14 -- and recorded eight tackles with one pass deflection on defense. He was constantly in Mike Mathews' face and contributed heavily to him rushing his throws. Lombardo, more than anybody in Section 1, can take over a game. He led Somers to a top seed in sectionals with this one. He just might lead the Tuskers to three more.
High Five (teams that had the best week)
1. Eastchester: There's no debating this one. Beat Harrison and everyone's going to talk about you.
2. Stepinac: Knocking off Fordham Prep officially makes the Crusaders the team to beat in AA.
3. Carmel: What could be better than beating Mahopac... beating Mahopac and earning a playoff berth in the process.
4. Clarkstown South: Finally, the Vikings break through and reach the postseason. Now they have to do something with it.
5. Mount Vernon: Why is nobody talking about this team more? It's time the Knights get their respect.