Rye rolls to crown, 35-7 over Pleasantville
MAHOPAC - There's an unspoken pact among the Rye football players of the last six years. Winning the Section 1 championship isn't just a goal. It's become the standard.
"We're expected to win at this point," Rye senior Kyle Ramalho said. "Losing would let all the other Garnets of the past six years down. We don't want to be the team to do that."
Ramalho and the other Rye seniors are off the hook after the defending state champs pounded Pleasantville, 35-7, last night at Mahopac High School to claim their sixth straight Section 1 Class B title.
The veteran fullback rushed for three touchdowns and earned offensive MVP honors for the second straight year as Rye (10-0) advanced to Friday's state quarterfinal at Dietz Stadium in Kingston.
Rye will take on the winner of tonight's Section 9 championship between Highland and New Paltz.
"At this point, we're not satisfied," said Rye defensive end William Ramsey, who had two sacks and five tackles. "We knew this was going to be a hard game, but we got it over with. We're looking to go farther."
Rye, the state's top-ranked team, has reached the Carrier Dome in Syracuse for the state final in four of the last five years, winning twice. Winning a third would only require an effort similar to the one it put up last night.
Ramalho and Cole McCormack combined to rush for 136 yards and three touchdowns in the first half as the Garnets opened a 21-0 lead. McCormack opened the scoring with a 61-yard touchdown run, two plays after the Rye defense stopped Pleasantville (8-2) inside the red zone.
Matt Foristel broke the game open 90 seconds into the third quarter. The Rye senior returned an interception 29 yards to the Pleasantville 6-yard line, setting up Ramalho's third score.
Pleasantville, which had scored 76 points in its two playoff games, managed just 65 yards in the first three quarters, and quarterback Tyler Thomas was sacked five times.
"They're so efficient and they just wear you down," Pleasantville coach Tony Becerra said. "They forced us to do things we hadn't done all year. We hadn't shot ourselves in the foot or make many mistakes all year. But they're so good, they force you into those things."
Last night proved just how much Rye has improved over the course of the season.
The Garnets beat Pleasantville, 20-7, on opening day. Rye had almost a dozen new starters that day, including sophomore quarterback Connor Eck, and needed to play its starters the entire game.
Rye pulled most of its starters before the fourth quarter last night.
"They're just a machine," Becerra said. "We both improved, obviously, from the first game. But they improved exponentially."
No area has developed more than the Rye defensive line. Foristel, Ramsey, Topher Triano and Brendan Nagle were overwhelming up front, covering the outside running lanes and consistently getting pressure on Thomas.
"We've both definitely improved as the season went on," Rye coach Dino Garr said. "But our program has been strong, and our cycle has been strong. The players know that every week they have a target on them and it's hard to stay focused. But our players keep responding, and they're taking on the responsibility."
This run through the postseason for Rye was as dominant, if not more, than any of the previous five years. Although the expectation among the players is to repeat as state champs, Garr isn't looking that far ahead.
"It's too early to tell how good we are," Garr said. "I know we're good enough to be sectional champs in Class B and that's outstanding in itself. Anything we do now is a bonus."
What's next for Rye
Rye advances to the state quarterfinals at Dietz Stadium in Kingston on Friday at 7:30 p.m. against the winner of today's Section 9 championship game between Highland and New Paltz.