RYE - A day after winning a second consecutive state Class B football championship, Topher Triano and his Rye teammates were back in school. As they walked around proudly wearing their varsity jackets, things appeared back to normal.
But only on the outside.
"It hasn't really hit me yet," the senior defensive end said. "I'm still walking on the clouds."
That sentiment probably won't go away any time soon. After defeating Section 3's Oneida 16-12 at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse Sunday, the positive vibe was still apparent, even after a long weekend of football and travel.
"It's a great feeling to come celebrate with my friends," senior wide receiver Patrick O'Callaghan said. "The whole community is behind us, especially the students."
The team returned by bus after midnight yesterday, arriving with a police-and-fire-department escort. A small group of family and friends was in attendance, but the school day was the first real chance to celebrate with the rest of the student body.
"To win two years in a row, I can't believe it," junior linebacker Brendan Nagle said. "Today just felt different. It didn't feel like a normal day. I don't know how to explain it."
Plans for a pep rally in the gym are in the works for either this Friday or sometime next week. Yesterday, a video announcement made by students during homeroom informed the entire school what it already knew.
"It's not a big surprise," said junior Robert Slater, who has a lot of friends on the team. "It's not just our football team. We're used to winning."
Still, students seemed enthusiastic to welcome back their victorious classmates.
"It was really exciting," sophomore Hannah Swank said. "There was a lot of school pride, and everyone's Facebook status all said, 'Go Garnets.' "
"It was cool," said freshman Matt Keough, a junior-varsity player and brother of varsity captain Donald Keough. "They had a nice little glow. You could tell they won."
Even at the adjoining middle school, the word was spreading.
"We follow the team, but we only go to home games because we don't have cars," eighth-grader John Paul said. "It's just really cool they actually came back as state champions, I thought last year was a one-time thing. It proved Rye is an amazing team."
Players were allowed to arrive at school after third period so they could catch up on sleep. Once they showed up, it wasn't exactly a grueling day.
"All the teachers were treating them like they won," said junior Ayaka Takei, one of the many students who made the trip to Syracuse. "They were like, 'If you fall asleep in class, it's OK.' "
In the hallways and outside after school, players received congratulations from teachers and classmates.
"I'm not going to lie. It was a bit of an ego trip," senior center Ryan Rossi said.
Jimmy Angelo, a security guard at Rye and a sports official and umpire for several sports in Westchester, showed his pride by wearing a black Rye hat and a red Garnets football sweat shirt.
"It's a tremendous credit to the teachers, students and the entire community," Angelo said.
Coach Dino Garr was excited for his team to finally have a chance to rejoice, even if his players were still grasping their latest accomplishment.
"It hasn't set in for most of the kids," Garr said. "They've put in a lot of hard work and dedication, but it's a great reward for us."