SYRACUSE — “I used to play basketball,” Cole McCormack was saying recently, “but I’m 5-foot-9 and I can’t really dribble or shoot. There’s not much of a future if you can’t do that much.”
Yes, the kid from Rye was being wry.
If he really put his mind to it, there’s plenty the outstanding running back and linebacker can do in just about any sport. As it is, he’s highly accomplished in both football and lacrosse.
The question this autumn, however, will be how much higher he and the Garnets can go as they take a heady step up in competition.
Photo by Lisa Yen
Cole McCormack, Rye
After three New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships in four years, Rye moves up to Class A. Their 25 straight wins overall and 57 in a row against Section I opposition make for a nice resume, but the big boys figure to be a challenge beyond almost anything the Garnets have faced in recent seasons.
And McCormack and his mates wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s usually a risk of complacency when you’ve won 47 of your last 48 games and picked up sectional championship trophies six straight years, but Dino Garr’s troops are taking the new challenge seriously.
“I’ve felt the intensity rise in our practices and preseason workouts,” McCormack said between games of the recent New York State Nike Shootout elite-level lacrosse event at Sunnycrest Park in Syracuse. “Our coach has definitely been a little more crazy, a little more intense. But it’s all good stuff because we’ve got Ossining the first game and they’re a powerhouse.”
The Garnets should hardly be weaponless as they step into Class A, where some school enrollments will be 60 percent larger than Rye’s. Quarterback Connor Eck is coming off 1,212 passing yards, 14 TDs and just three interceptions on 71-for-108 accuracy in his sophomore season. McCormack carried 112 times for 1,070 yards as a junior.
To be sure, there are issues. Virtually the entire offensive line needs to be rebuilt and the graduation of Kyle Ramalho (21 TDs) has to be taken seriously because fullback productivity is crucial to the offset-I attack.
That contributes to why you won’t hear McCormack bragging about state championships or five trips to Thanksgiving weekend finals in Syracuse in the last six years.
“The only part of the past that matters is maybe our sectional run,” he said. “After that it’s just icing on the cake. There are guys who five years ago got us battling our way through the section. They’re the guys who got us here, and we’re playing for them, the coaches and the community.”