Here’s the first of my in-depth championship previews, beginning with Class B. I’ll be posting the rest over the next 24 hours as we lead up to championship weekend. Enjoy.
Rye (9-0) vs. Pleasantville (8-1)
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Mahopac High School
How’d they get here: Rye beat Kennedy in the quarterfinals, 48-14, and defeated Nanuet in the semis, 40-13. Pleasantville knocked off Ardsley 43-7 and beat Byram Hills, 33-13.
First meeting: Rye defeated Pleasantville, 20-7, in the opening week of the season. Kyle Ramalho rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown and Patrick O’Callaghan caught two touchdowns as the Garnets staked a 20-0 lead early in the third quarter. Topher Triano had three sacks to lead the Rye defense.
Rye: Connor Eck has become a far more efficient passer than anyone would have imagined before the season. The sophomore is averaging 112 yards per game in the air this season and has thrown 11 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Pleasantville: Few quarterbacks have been quite as consistent as Thomas, especially over the last six games. In that span he’s completed 75 percent of his throws with nine touchdowns one interception.
Rye: The Garnets have as talented and diverse a group of runners as any team in Section 1. Kyle Ramalho (578 yards rushing) is a pile-moving fullback; Cole McCormack is a versatile insider-outside runner; and Luke O’Malley is game-breaker threat on the perimeter.
Pleasantville: The Panthers took a big hit when Mario Arboite went down a torn MCL a month ago. Charlie Howe and Joe D’Apice have filled in well. But there’s isn’t quite the same level of speed with Arboite gone.
Rye: Donald Keough is among the area’s most underrated players. Brogan Matthews, Pat O’Callaghan and T.J. Storino have made the most out of limited opportunities.
Pleasantville: When the Panthers need a big play downfield they go to Jack Bramswig, a 6-foot-4 junior who had 164 yards receiving against Ardsley in the quarterfinals. Aside from him and Will Andreycak, though, the Panthers mostly throw to their backs.
Rye: It’s not the biggest unit but it’s one of the quickest, and easily among the most effective. Ryan Rossi and Rob Santangelo are solid veterans. Charlie Rollins and Chris Lavelle have stepped up, as well.
Pleasantville: This unit is probably the biggest reason the Panthers have advanced to the final. Arlon Panizalez anchors the group, which has good size with Anthony Lanza and Patrick Leyden, and excellent speed and agility with Kevin Reda and Patrick Reilingh.
Rye: You could possibly argue that this is one of the five best defensive lines in Section 1. Topher Triano and Brendan Nagle are superb off the end, and Ramalho and William Ramsey are tough up the middle.
Pleasantville: A good unit with Panizales, Reilingh, Kevin Bernaducci, among others. Few teams are able to run up the middle on these guys.
Rye: The Garnets have so many guys moving around on defense from play to play. Santangelo, Ryan Rossi and Keough have so much experience and a very good job patrol the middle of the field and in pass coverage. Matt Foristel has been a huge addition.
Pleasantville: Plenty of talent here, led by Howe, Reda and Nolan Robinson. They’ve really developed as the season has progressed.
Rye: Another area where the Garnets are blessed with veterans. Pat O’Callaghan is the leader of the group, and has seen Brogan Matthews, Paul Reisner, and Max Billington develop into reliable cover-men over the course of the season.
Pleasantville: Few people know about the playmakers the Panthers have back there. Joe D’Apice has six interceptions on the year. Jack Bramswig and Will Andreycak are hard hitters who got a lot of playing time last year.
Bottom line: As I’ve said before, Pleasantville enters a wide-open weekend of championship games as the biggest underdog. The Panthers have improved dramatically since losing to Rye, 20-7, in the season opener. But so have the defending state champs. This Rye team has great potential and showed it in glimpses throughout the season. This is the time they usually start putting it all together and go for the grand prize.
Score prediction: Rye 28, Pleasantville