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Thursday, November 9Red Hook and Cornwall Leap into the Friday Night Fire
The Friday evening regional quarterfinals (7:30 pm kickoffs) will pit Red Hook against Rye at Dietz Stadium in Class B and Cornwall against Harrison at Mahopac for the right to move on in Class A. Defending state champ Rye is ranked the #1 B team in New York while Harrison, which whipped Cornwall 40-7 in last year's quarterfinal, is ranked the #2 A team. Both the Raiders and the Dragons will need to bring their "A+" games Friday. Red Hook, ranked #9 in B, has a real mountain to climb.
RYE's active 21-game winning streak is second only to Monroe-Woodbury's in the state. The Garnets (9-0) are so tough that they even handed archrival Harrison its only loss of the season.
In last year's quarterfinal, Rye beat Burke, 41-13. The Rye offense has averaged 32 points per game while its outstanding defense has yielded but an average of six points per tilt. Rye may already be looking past Red Hook toward its expected state semi battle with 10-0 Albany Academy. Garnet coach Dino Garr's offensive philosophy is to "run the ball and shorten the game." Senior RB Connor O'Grady (5-11, 175) is the team's leading rusher and scorer. FB Pete Longo missed last week's game with an injury, but his replacement, soph Kyle Ramalho, proved himself to be an able rusher. But the focus is on senior QB Fran "Tiny" Archibald (#12) whose 6-2, 230-pound frame makes him hard to miss (unless you're a tackler). Archibald averages 5.2 yards per carry, and when the Garnets go to the air, he completes his passes 63% of the time. Senior TE T.J. Smith (6, 200) is the team's leading receiver with 19 catches for 302 yards and four TDs. The Rye lines feature seniors Erik Antico (6-2, 240) and J.B. Welling (6-3, 255). Archibald can play on the DL as well. Senior D.J. Virtue (6, 190) is a solid DE while Smith is a standout at LB. Senior Zach Stearns leads the secondary. Meanwhile kicker Sebastian Saunders has converted 29-of-31 PATs and has booted a 31-yard field goal. Prognosis: The Raiders must get Ross Mosher more carries if his sore back can handle them. And they'll need Tucker Roeder to hit some key passes so that the quick Red Hook backfield can do its thing. Mosher will be a force from his LB slot but can the rest of the tough Raider 'D' handle the hot Rye offense? More importantly, can Red Hook get a foothold in the trenches? Can the Raiders score enough to stay in the game?
As we said, Harrison beat Cornwall last year, only to fall to eventual state champ Amsterdam in the Eastern Semi. Last week the Huskies settled in to beat Ossining after falling behind, 14-0, to win this year's Section One A title. Ossining has been the only team that's beaten the Green Dragons in 2006. Harrison is another of those Section One teams that loves to shove the ball down defenses' throats but passes well enough to make teams honor their aerial potential. The 9-1 Huskies are led by sensational QB Matt Ciraco (#7) who can run the option. The 5-9, 175-pound senior has scored 19 TDs while averaging 8.8 yards per carry. Ciraco has thrown only 29 passes this year and seven have been for TDs while none have been intercepted. Behind Ciraco is a potent backfield that features senior RB Jimmy Falasca (6-1, 220) who has scored 17 TDs and averaged 8 y.p.c. Next to him is senior Alex Greenburg (5-8, 175) who will get about half the carries that Ciraco and Falasca each have. He averages 8.5 y.p.c. That trio will follow a line led by seniors Alex Greenburg (5-10, 240 center ), Corey Passarella (6-1, 225 tackle) and David French (6-2, 210). Meanwhile soph Claudio Delli Carpini is a promising WR and an even better placekicker (47-for-51 on PATs). Going into this quarterfinal, the Huskies have averaged 41 points per game while allowing but nine. On defense you'll find the quartet of French, Falasca, Passarella and Greenburg leading an intimidating front wall. A.J. Bonistall and soph Justin Segal are very good linebackers while junior Matt Krasnoff and Andrew Greenburg lead the secondary. Prognosis: Harrison is a solid favorite, but this year's Cornwall team, ranked #6 in Class B, won't fold up like it did last year. As with the Huskies', the Dragon roster is loaded with veteran seniors. Brian McNally, the best DE and TE in the section, missed that early game against Ossining, and his presence should make a noticeable difference in this showdown with Harrison. The Cornwall spread has also improved dramatically, but its jet sweeps will have to contend with those two outstanding DEs that Harrison has: Falasca and French. The Cornwall offensive front line must win enough battles in the trenches so that Matt Moretto and Dave Boisture can find room up the middle. On defense the Dragons must keep doing what they've been doing since week three (allowing an average of 5.5 points per game).