Mike Zacchio’s last stop was at Rye High School. Here’s his report:
Rye has been a team that over the years has been synonymous with both winning and dominance. Although the Garnets have been a wrecking ball most of the last decade, that came in Class B. Since moving to A two years ago, the Garnets have certainly held their own against the tougher competition.
Veteran coach Dino Garr led his team to the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, but with early exits following shortly thereafter.
“We’ve got a very young squad this year,” said Garr. “But they’re focused and committed.”
Jake Meyerson (left) will run the offense this year after Rye lost three-year starter and former state champion Connor Eck to graduation.
“Jake’s the new leader and this is his team now,” said Garr. “He’s been waiting, we’ve passed the baton, and I think he’s going to do great for us.”
In addition to his quarterbacking responsibilities, Meyerson will also be a safety and kicker for the Garnets. “I know what I’m doing as QB, but I’m still learning along the way,” he said.
Rye’s key returnees include FB/LB Joe Simolacaj, who stepped up for the Garnets after a few of his teammates went down from injuries. Garr says Simolacaj will have to be “a huge force” for the Garnets this year.
Joining his older brother Matt Degraw is freshman Tim Degraw, who Garr is expecting a lot from.
“We’ve got some big shoes to fill,” said Garr. “And that’s what we’re going to have to do.”
Rye will face a very tough schedule right out of the gate when its play Somers on the road in its season opener. Somers eliminated Rye in the first round of the sectional tournament before being eliminated themselves in the semis.
“Most of the teams we face made the playoffs last year, so it’s quite a schedule,” said Garr.
Even with Rye in a rebuilding year, Garr still has the post season in his sights.
“I don’t think too many people are expecting us to be very good this year,” he joked. “But if we can win and be apart of the playoffs I think it’ll be a surprise.”
Here’s more notes and quotes from Mike on Rye…
Players to watch:
Jake Meyerson, 6-0, 190, QB/S/K — “Connor was a great leader, now I need to step up on and off the field.” … “I can run a little bit, whereas he was a little more of a pocket guy.” … “Our team chemistry will surprise people. We’re all friends. Last year, it was kind of divided between the juniors and seniors. There’s no split this year.”
Joe Simolacaj, Sr., 5-11, 190, FB/LB
Jimmy Dugan, Jr., 6-0, 170, RB/DB
Matt Degraw, Sr., 5-11, 155, RB/CB
Garr handicapped the Class A field for Mike. When asked who offered the stiffest competition, he laughed and said all of them. But here’s his Top 5:
1. Harrison: “They won it all last year so they have to be the favorite.”
2. Somers: “Great coaching; a lot of depth.”
3. Ossining: “Coming down from AA.”
4. Greeley: “Great QB.”
5. John Jay