This ought to create some controversy, but that’s not why there are changes at the top. I made them because this is how I rank the teams at the present time.
Read on for further explanation…
1. Stepinac (8-0, Last week: 2): Most of you will hate this, I know, but I gave my pledge at the beginning of the year that I would rank the teams based on who I believed would win head to head. By that estimation, Stepinac and Iona deserved to slide into the top two spots. Of course, it would guarantee nothing. I think the top four (and maybe seven) teams are close enough than any one could win over another. But after watching the teams all play multiple times, I believe the two most well-rounded played Week 1 at Iona Prep. Stepinac has arguably the area’s top offensive player in QB Tyrell Goodman. Crusaders coach Mike O’Donnell told me this week that Goodman was, in his some 30 years, “probably the best player I’ve ever coached.” That includes Under Armour’s own Eric Ogbogu, who played eight years in the NFL. And Stepinac is not about Goodman alone. Vic Quirolo told me last week that the top of Stepinac’s roster was probably better than that of any team he faced this year.
2. Iona Prep (6-2, Last week: 3): As much as anything, Iona convinced me in defeat that it deserved to move ahead of its old crosstown rival. It wasn’t even so much that the Gaels stayed close with St. Anthony’s, it was how they looked physically. Their offense played a crisp game that St. Anthony’s simply couldn’t answer. Their team speed was terrific. Their defense only allowed St. Anthony’s to drive the length of the field twice all game. I asked one of my colleagues who had watched the New Ro-North Rockland and Iona-St. Anthony’s game on back to back weeks and he agreed that Iona had the better team right now. In a week or two, we’ll see. I will keep evaluating.
3. New Rochelle (8-0, Last week: 1): Right now, the Huguenots are inconsistent offensively. The usual critique would be they need to turn to their top backs more consistently, but that rings hollow after their third-string fullback ripped off the longest run of the high school football season last Saturday. I don’t know that New Ro will necessarily need to score a lot to win this week. I expect a low scoring game. But the Huguenots will need to get going if they advance to the state playoffs. I think their are answers in their passing game, but that aspect of the offense need to find more consistency. On defense, there is no answer needed. New Ro has all the pieces to win two or three more games this season, for sure.
4. Mahopac (8-0, Last week: 4): The Indians may need to fine another source of offense if New Ro can focus on taking away T.J. Foley the way North did last Friday. The difference could be the weather, although it’s too early to say if the cold and wind will affect Sunday’s Class AA final. Of key importance will be the health of Dillon Addonizio. Last Friday, Tom Donahoe told me it was no guarantee Addonizio will return in time for the final.
5. Yorktown (6-2, Last week: 5): After all these weeks on the outside looking in of the Top 10, the ‘Huskers proved they belonged — and right here in the middle of the list. What will be fascinating to find out this week is how Mahopac matches up with New Ro compared to Yorktown. Yes, Mahopac won easily head to head, but after watching both I’m not so sure Mahopac would be three TDs better if the teams played today.
6. Clarkstown North (6-2, Last week: 6): Last week I said North’s motto should be “just finish” vs. Mahopac. Well, we all know how that turned out despite an excellent defensive performance, particularly against dual QB threat T.J. Foley. Now, the Rams should enter Friday night highly motivated to beat Yorktown and claim third place in Class AA. To me, that’s a meaningful game.
7. White Plains (6-2, Last week: 7): After a disappointing loss to Yorktown, the Tigers regrouped an beat North Rockland in impressive fashion. Although they wish they were still playing at Mahopac, RBs Jaeshon Brooks and Darrell Everett earned quality PT that will only help them next year. That should be some backfield. Also, for those of you who wondered, White Plains will skip this week’s DeMatteo Bowl (it would’ve played Scarsdale in the 5 p.m. game) in order to save its ninth game for Stepinac. In the words of Bob Ryan, “Do you think that’s something you might be interested in?”
8. Horace Greeley (7-1, Last week: 9): The loss to Poughkeepsie is nothing but a memory now. Ever since, the Quakers appear to be setting their tone, and that is vital to their success. Because of that, I believe they enter the final as a slight favorite, which is why I rank them ahead of Harrison. But Greeley may have its mettle tested Saturday if Harrison rips off along run or two.
9. Harrison (7-1, Last week: 10): As I said this morning, this is a different spot the Huskies find themselves in now. They are the finesse team against Greeley and may need to play like it to win. But the reason they have the potential to do damage is they have the talent that can make it work. A big game from Brandon Bonistall and Tanner Knox at linebacker would help. They will probably each need 10 or so tackles to slow down Justin Ciero.
10. Poughkeepsie (6-2, Last week: 8): The Pioneers showed just how talented they are in the second half last week, where they turned a four-touchdown deficit at halftime into a fourth-quarter white-knuckler. They probably missed some of last year’s leadership on offense, and it probably didn’t help with their occasional rash of mistakes. Remember, although we all believed this team was a contender all year (and it was), it definitely arrived to the season very inexperienced in certain areas.