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Week 6 Awards: Section 1/CHSFL
Headline: Mahopac, Ketcham post stunning fourth-quarter comebacks. Mahopac and Ketcham looked like they were about to kiss their slim playoff hopes goodbye this weekend. Then came the fourth quarters. Mahopac’s scored 19 unanswered points in the final 12 minutes to shock Clarkstown South on Friday. On Saturday, Ketcham trailed Suffern 29-14 in the fourth quarter but came back to force overtime and eventually win it in the second frame. Both enter Week 6 in the Class AA playoff hunt.
Top storyline: For some teams, the playoffs begin early. Saunders’ emotional win over Spring Valley makes Week 7 essentially the postseason for the Blue Devils, and many others. The winner of Saunders-Port Chester will make the Class A playoffs and the loser is likely done. Same goes for John Jay-EF, which needs to beat Clarkstown South, and in Class B with Nanuet, which hosts Croton-Harmon. In the Piner System every game matters to every team in some way. Week 7 should deliver on plenty of drama.
KDJ’s Section 1 Class-by-Class Rankings
1. New Rochelle
2. North Rockland
3. John Jay-EF
5. Clarkstown South
4. Sleepy Hollow
5. John Jay-Cross River
4. Dobbs Ferry
5. Rye Neck
Best game: Ketcham 43, Suffern 42 (2OT). Score 85 combined points and play a couple of extra frames, and you’ll earn game of the week honors. Nobody expected it to play out that way, especially with Suffern taking a 29-15 lead into the fourth quarter and dominating offensively. But the Indians, who actually trailed by 23 in the third quarter, stormed back before quarterback Kevin Duke carried them back. Prince Oglesby ran in his second touchdown in overtime and an extra point put Ketcham ahead 43-36. Suffern scored but the extra point missed, giving the Indians a stunning win. Duke ran for a touchdown and threw one, and Elon Walter ran for 183 yards and a touchdown in the victory.
Biggest surprise: Stepinac 17, St. Joseph-by-the-Sea 14. There really are no “surprises” in the CHSFL given the balance and depth of the league. But St. Joseph came into Saturday’s game undefeated and faced a one-win Stepinac squad that suffered two crushing close losses to Xaverian and Holy Cross. Mike Pizzuti kicked a game-winning 23-yard field with seven seconds left and Stepinac won despite being outgained 369-293. Ryan Burnett ran for 125 yards and a touchdown and Justin Thomas had 109 yards receiving and ran for a touchdown.
Inside the numbers: The only numbers that matter right now are the Section 1 Playoff Standings. MSG Varsity reporter John Malone has been on top of it for weeks. With still one week to play, here’s KDJ’s predictions for first-round playoff matchups:
(NOTE: these are PREDICTIONS)
No. 4 John Jay-EF at No. 1 New Rochelle
No. 3 Mamaroneck at No. 2 North Rockland
No. 4 Saunders at No. 1 Harrison
No. 4 John Jay-Cross River at No. 1 Brewster
No. 3 Poughkeepsie at No. 2 Sleepy Hollow
No. 3 Hen Hud at No. 2 Somers
No. 4 Ardsley at No. 1 Lourdes
No. 3 Croton at No. 2 Pleasantville
No. 4 Dobbs Ferry at No. 1 Woodlands
No. 3 Bronxville at No. 2 Rye neck
Best performance (offense): Ray Jackson and Tyrone Barber, Woodlands. Wow. Just wow. Woodlands went out on Saturday and officially stamped itself as the best Class C team in the Hudson Valley and maybe this half of the state, beating Dobbs Ferry 39-6. But the Falcons went from the best passing team in the conference to an explosive ground attack. Jackson ran for 146 yards and two touchdowns on five carries and Barber gained 100 yards and a score on six attempts.
Best performance (defense): Steven Bencosme, Sleepy Hollow. The Headless Horsemen have the best secondary in Class A and arguably all of Section 1. Bencosme is the leader of the pack. In a rare chance that a team threw anywhere in his direction, he returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown in Friday’s 41-21 win over Lakeland as Sleepy’s defense intercepted three passes. You don’t realize how valuable a great safety can be until you have one. And none is better than Bencosme.
Best performance (special teams): Mike Pizzutti, Stepinac. We see it all the time in the NFL. But to kick a game-winning field goal at this level takes some guts and Pizzutti clearly has it. He booted a 23-yarder with seven seconds left at Stepinac handed St. Joseph-by-the-Sea its first defeat of the season, 17-14.
Best performance (in a losing effort): Midnet Contave, Spring Valley. Saturday’s game with Saunders showcased the type of talent Contave is. He accounted for all of Spring Valley’s points, catching two long touchdown passes and returning a punt 63 yards for a score.
Best bounce-back effort: Croton-Harmon. Croton went from not losing to a Section 1 opponent in two season to losing in back-to-back weeks. Every team deals with injuries, so the Tigers aren’t making excuses. But they’re healthy now and it showed in a 28-14 win over Westlake on Saturday. Ben Gelfand, who missed last week with a head injury, threw for 95 yards and ran for 71 and two touchdowns.
Breakout performance: Chris Garagni, Suffern. Passing for over 300 yards at the high school level doesn’t happen often. Garagni accomplished the feat, albeit in a losing effort, on Saturday in the loss to Ketcham. The senior completed 16 of 31 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns. In five games, he’s passed for at least 126 yards in each and has piled up 879 yards and six touchdowns on the year.
Learn the name: Luke Marrone, Bronxville. In the preseason, Marrone was considered one of the most dynamic players in Class C. Then came a broken arm and the thought he was gone for season. Think again. Marrone worked his way back and returned on Friday — and returned in a big way. He was outstanding in the secondary and scored the lone touchdown in a 7-0 victory over rival Tuckahoe, hauling in a 17-yard pass on the first play of the fourth quarter. Marrone’s return clearly had an emotional impact on Bronxville, which could be a sleeper entering the postseason.
Coach of the week: Mel Carrozza, Saunders. It’s the last week of the regular season and Saunders has a very real chance of making the playoffs. It’s a testament to the job Carrozza has done in his two seasons as head coach of a program with essentially no success historically. Saturday’s win showed the resiliency this group has as they overcome three big play touchdowns allowed and came back to win it in the fourth. Saunders now has to beat Port Chester this weekend to make the Class A playoffs. Win or lose, it’s been an outstanding season for Carrozza and his staff.
Looking ahead: Countdown to The Game. Harrison and Rye highlight Rivalry Week in the Hudson Valley as they meet on Saturday. Rye has won the last nine meetings but enters this game a significant underdog against an undefeated Harrison squad. And that’s what makes the 2012 version of Rye-Harrison one of the most anticipated in the rivalry. Harrison is feeling the pressure to finally end the streak. Rye has nothing to lose. Saturday at 1:30 p.m. If you’re a high school football in the area, you’ll find a way to get to Rye for The Game.
Final thought: Harrison beats Rye. Finally.
Email Kevin Devaney Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org