RYE, by Josh Thomson
For the final 10 minutes or so of its morning practice, Rye ran through offensive plays. Pass left. Pass right. Pass short. Pass long. But not only was the site of third-year starter Andrew Livingston throwing every play eye-popping, so was the fact he took every snap in the shotgun.
The Garnets utilized the formation last season to take advantage of Livingston’s gifts, but they will increase the frequency of it even further—so much so that last year’s fullback, Conor Murphy, said he considered himself just a running back now.
Rye coach Dino Garr said his team will still deploy two-back sets, but will primarily line up in a shotgun with just one back now that the strong-armed Livingston, a junior, is a third-year starter.
“He’s older and it takes more advantage of some of the skill people we have,” Garr said. “I think that helps us in terms of being more uptempo. But it’s his turn now. He’s a junior. He should take over here.”
Garr said having an experienced quarterback like Livingston for two more years was “a Godsend,” but so are the returning backs who will surround him. Murphy, Shane O’Malley and Chris Santangelo are all senior captains and two-way players who earned significant playing time last season. Rye also returns junior Tim DeGraw, who, like Livingston, has earned snaps for two seasons already, but will return off an injury. He and Murphy both missed significant time last year when Rye missed the playoffs and saw its run of nine straight wins vs. rival Harrison end.
“We grew up and everybody’s always been winning and been great,” Santangelo said. “Naturally, we just want to be the best we can be. It was a big disappointment coming out there and not making the playoffs for the first time in however many years. So we’re definitely hungry this year. We want to get out there and get at everybody.”
Line play could be the most significant area of concern for the Garnets, who graduated four of the six players who earned the majority of starts last season. They’ll try to counter that with faster tempo on offense and an assortment of skill players.
Of course, returning to the playoffs will fuel Rye, too. Anything less with be a disappointment after one of the quietest two-year stretches in recent memory.
“The last two years were definitely disappointing,” Livingston said. “You want to make the playoffs and you want to go far in the playoffs. This year we definitely have the potential to do so. It’s exciting to work hard and have a chance to do that.”