There’s a difference between being a bad team — and having your opponent make you look bad.
If you were at Rye-Hudson Falls game on Saturday, you’d know exactly what I mean. Hudson Falls got beat 34-7 in the Class B state semifinal. Was Hudson Falls bad? No. Rye was just that good.
Many of the Rye players insisted that Hudson Falls was the best team they’ve faced all season. When you play a first quarter like the one the Garnets played in that game, and get an effort on the defensive line from Kyle Ramalho, you’re not going to lose very often.
Rye was nearly perfect in the first half, moving the ball at will and completely shutting down a Hudson Falls offense that put up ridiculous numbers throughout the season. Cole McCormack ran the ball as well as I’ve seen him all season. Connor Eck, the ever-improving sophomore quarterback, was on point and the undersized offensive line pushed around a Hudson Falls team that hadn’t seen a group that quick and smart all season.
So why am I talking about a game three days after it happened? Because at Rye yesterday, the team was still feeling the effects of it.
Eck. Ramalho. McCormack. Topher Triano. William Ramsey. All were at practice. None were suited up because of injury.
The sight of five of your best players standing on the sideline in street clothes a week before the state championship isn’t very comforting. It was only Monday, which is typically a light day of practice for most teams, even ones on the brink of their third state title in four years.
Eck’s ankle, which knocked him out Saturday’s game before the half, is just a sprain and he was walking around but in an air cast. Ramalho, McCormack, Triano and Ramsey didn’t have serious injuries. They were hobbled, though, after a physical night against Hudson Falls.
Ramalho injured a finger in the first few minutes but didn’t miss a play. It was all bandaged up and he detailed what doctors had told him.
“So I guess that’s it, huh?” I said. “You’re not going to play?”
He laughed. “It’s just a finger… I’ve been playing on a bad ankle for two years. I’m not going to miss the state championship for a finger.”
Neither will the other guys, at least I don’t think so. Eck is the one who’ll have to be monitored closely this week. He’ll likely be limited at practice for the next few days. But again, expect him to be out there on Sunday.
It should be an interesting game for Rye. Like 2005, they go into this game as a clear favorite, which isn’t an ideal position for any team playing for a state championship. With Oneida located just 30 minutes away and the team playing for its state football title, there will be a huge crowd. I think, though, this team will like that environment. They might even thrive off of it.
Every scouting report I’ve gotten on Oneida in the last two days has centered around quarterback, Ryan Kramer. He’s an exceptional athlete who can run and throw, and won’t be afraid to take a hit. If Kramer faces a Rye defense similar to the one at Dietz on Saturday, he better expect plenty of them, too.
Despite what I believe is the beginnings of a serious cold, I think I’ll be venturing up to Croton-Harmon later this afternoon. I’ve felt terrible all morning. But I’m not one to pass up the chance to hang out with John Catano, so I’ll likely get in the car and go.