On last night’s Varsity Insider Chat, which you can watch On Demand here
, a reader posed the question: What is the X factor in Saturday’s meeting between Rye and Harrison?
Put on the spot, I stated the obvious: The health of Connor Eck
As you probably know, the Rye senior cut his right hand last week in a non-football injury and missed Saturday’s game against Spring Valley. I asked coach Dino Garr about Eck’s availability for Saturday and Garr said the team won’t know until Thursday at the earliest. “We won’t know for the next couple of days,” Garr said.
From what I can gather, Eck will have stitches removed today but how the wound affects his ability to throw remains to be seen.
Of course, considering how important Eck is both as a player and leader it stands to reason that my first hunch was right. But last night I asked Art Troilo Jr. (above) what he believes the difference has been during his team’s current losing streak, which was extended to seven after last year’s 21-7 Rye victory.
Troilo didn’t hesitate.
“The main thing was up front they were bigger and more physical than we were,” Troilo said. “I believe that was a big factor. There were years we had 170-pound guards playing over guys who were 270. But not only were they handling us up front. They were handling everybody in the state up front, too.”
Case in point No. 1: Last year Rye gobbled up the last 8:25 of the fourth quarter without giving the ball back. Cole McCormack rushed for 158 yards on 32 carries.
Case in point No. 2: In 2008, a 28-3 win, Rye controlled the ball for 27 of the first 36 minutes. McCormack rushed for 140 yards on 20 carries.
Case in point No. 3: Rye won 27-7 in 2007 despite trailing 7-0 at the half. Harrison had just 48 yards and two first downs in the second half, and Kyle Ramalho rushed for over 129 yards on 32 carries.
After that 2007 game, Troilo said, “They beat us up front. You have to give them credit. They controlled the line of scrimmage.”
Anyway, all this isn’t meant to belabor the point, but to illustrate it. Rye has outscored Harrison 76-17 the last three years all while controlling the clock and feeding a workhorse back over 20 times for well over 100 yards. So it should come as no surprise that three years later, the Harrison coach is singing the same refrain.
Of course, this time Troilo hopes the Huskies can reverse that trend up front and end the “other” trend that won’t seem to relent: Rye’s unprecedented seven-game win streak.
This is the Garnets’ longest win streak in what is now the rivalry’s 82nd year.
For what it’s worth, Harrison expects to play all of its key players for just the second game all season. Tanner Knox (cut hand), Alex Acompora (ankle), Brandon Bonistall (ankle) and Duke Alvora and Michael Callari (suspensions) were all on the field together for the first time this season in last Saturday’s narrow victory at Spring Valley.
“The kids are obviously very anxious to play,” Troilo said. “They’re very excited about the opportunity.”
With the exception of Eck, Garr’s team may be as healthy as it’s been, too. Although Matt McReddie, Rye’s left guard and linebacker, remains sidelined for the season with a knee injury, Anthony Vitiello (ankle) and Jack O’Callaghan (foot) have seen their conditions improve since a Week 3 loss to Nyack.
“We’re trying to get everybody back to normal,” Garr said. “We’ve been scrambling to get people in every position this year.”