We’ve reached No. 8 on my travels to all 10 Section 1 teams playing for championships this weekend at Mahopac High School. Next up are Westlake and finally Rye.
It’s never a good thing when I pull up to where a team normally practices and am greeted by an empty parking lot and a sign that reads: Field Closed. Please Keep Off. Especially not during championship week.
But that’s how bad the rain soaked up Parkway Field in Pleasantville, which is where the Class B finalists normally practice. I decided to head up the road this afternoon to the school, where I found an unusually calm and cool group of Pleasantville players.
They meandered through the halls laughing and joking, and stormed into the weight room with a loud ovation of cheers and yelling. They went through their lifting routines before ending the session the way they always do — with the entire team gathering around the pull-up and yelling out the count as each player goes one by one.
Did I misread the schedule? Is Pleasantville not playing mighty, state champion Rye tomorrow night in the Class B championship?
It’s not that I expected to find a team trembling. But this group is clearly cut out mentally to play this game, much like Sleepy Hollow was last year and Pelham before. When I walked into coach Tony Becerra’s office this afternoon he was in the middle of watching the first Rye-Pleasantville game, which the Garnets won 20-7.
“It’s like we’re a different team,” he said as he watched the plays for what it probably the 10 thousandth time. “Rye has obviously improved a lot from then to now. But we’re a totally different team.”
Good enough to unseat the five-time Section 1 champs? I’ve been calling Pleasantville the biggest of underdogs this weekend at Mahopac. As you’ll hear below in my interview with quarterback Tyler Thomas, they like that label and the fact nobody is giving them a chance to win.
One thing is certain: Pleasantville won’t be intimidated.