By Justin Rodriguez
Section 9 Football Insider
Four-time defending Class AA champion Newburgh has already booked a spot in the semifinals of the state playoffs by virtue of a bye the Goldbacks received in the quarterfinals.
Newburgh plays New Rochelle or Troy in the semifinals on Nov. 18 at Faller Field in Middletown. Four other perennial Section 9 powers, Cornwall, Marlboro, Burke Catholic and Millbrook, hope to punch their ticket to the East Regional final four next weekend in Middletown.
Here is a look at each game:
Cornwall (9-0) vs. Yorktown (10-0), 7 p.m. at Dietz Stadium, Kingston
This showdown features the second-ranked Class A team in the state, Yorktown, and the third-ranked school, Cornwall, which is making its seventh straight appearance in the state playoffs.
Cornwall has outscored opponents 421-67 this year, posting four shutouts. The Green Dragons gave up 28 of those points in a win over Class AA champion Newburgh. Despite missing two games, Cornwall running back T.J. Gayle has rushed for 1,402 yards and 23 touchdowns. Seven other players have rushed for touchdowns for Cornwall, including sophomore Amin Woods, who has seven.
Cornwall quarterback Kieran Kreider has been efficient all year, throwing for 1,118 yards with 15 touchdowns and two interceptions. With Kreider out with an injury, Cornwall lost to Somers 28-7 in last year’s state quarterfinals. Somers went on to win the state championship.
Yorktown defeated Somers 21-7 in last week’s Section 1 championship. Running back Brett Makar had 219 rushing yards and a 50-yard touchdown. He has 1,311 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. Yorktown is playing in state tournament for the first time since 1998.
Cornwall has reached the Class A state playoffs in 12 of the last 13 years. The Green Dragons are 7-12 all-time in the state playoffs.
Marlboro (9-0) vs. Pleasantville (9-1), 7 p.m. at Mahopac High School
Marlboro vs. New Paltz for the Section 9 championship wasn’t the only instant classic last week. Pleasantville outlasted rival Westlake 27-24 in the Section 1 championship.
Running back Charlie McPhee’s 6-yard run provided Pleasantville with the thrilling win. McPhee finished with 177 yards and two touchdowns. He rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns in Pleasantville’s 56-20 win over New Paltz in last year’s Class B state quarterfinals.
That served as the Panthers’ first state playoff win in school history. McPhee has rushed for 1,201 yards and 16 touchdowns for Pleasantville and quarterback Jack Howe has 1,194 all-purpose yards and 15 touchdowns. Marlboro is making its sixth appearance in the Class B state playoffs in seven years.
“I think Pleasantville is on a little bit of a mission,” Marlboro coach Rich Ward said. “I think they return 18 players and they want to get back to the semifinals. To compete with Pleasantville, we are going to have to bring our ‘A’ game. I think Pleasantville is the favorite and we have to make sure that we are not just satisfied with winning the Section 9 championship. We are still climbing the mountain and have to stay hungry.”
The Iron Dukes reached the state semifinals from 2012-14. Marlboro is led by the two-headed quarterback/running back combination of Phil DeSantis and Sam Mongelli, and a tough defense. DeSantis has rushed for 1,104 yards and 19 touchdowns. Mongelli has thrown for 10 touchdown passes and rushed for 10 more with 1,530 all-purpose yards. Billy Williamson, a 1,000-yard rusher last season, has 56 tackles and seven sacks for the Iron Dukes.
Millbrook (5-5) vs. Tuckahoe (7-2), 4:30 p.m. at Mahopac
Millbrook running back Erik Manfredi thinks Tuckahoe overlooked the Blazers when they scored a 35-34 win over the Westchester County power in early-October.
Manfredi doesn’t see that happening again.
“I think they underestimated us when we played them,” Manfredi said. “But we know that Tuckahoe won’t do that again and we are ready for the challenge. I don’t want this to be our last game. When I say that, I’m speaking for the entire senior class.”
Tuckahoe advanced to the state quarterfinals with a 36-33 win over Haldane in the Section 1 championship. Quarterback Matt Annunizata rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns for the Tigers and running back Daron Williams had 101 yards and three scores.
Annunizata is a two-way threat, passing for 1,566 yards and 13 touchdowns, but he also has 13 interceptions. He has rushed for 861 yards and 14 touchdowns. Williams had 543 yards on the ground and six scores.
Millbrook, a Class C school last season, reached the state quarterfinals when Eldred forfeited the Section 9 title the eve before the game due to a lack of players. Running back Drew Jackson rushed for four touchdowns in the Blazers’ win over Tuckahoe last month. He has rushed for 755 yards and six touchdowns for Millbrook and Manfredi has rushed for 763 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Tuckahoe is 10-2 all-time against Section 9 teams in the state playoffs.
Burke Catholic (8-1) vs. Albertus Magnus (9-1), 7 p.m. at Dietz Stadium, Kingston
We all knew that Burke Catholic would be good this year. The question was how good?
The Eagles graduated six starters on each side of the ball from last year’s team, which reached the Class C state semifinals, including star running back Garnett Nicolas. As it turns out, this year’s version of Burke Catholic has been as impressive as the 2016 team. Since opening the season with a loss to Class B runner-up New Paltz, the Eagles have won eight in a row.
The Eagles put away rival Chester 40-12 in the Section 9 championship, only weeks after edging the Hambletonians 28-24. Led by quarterback Heath Hoovler and running back David Ross, Burke Catholic is averaging 41.2 points per game. Hoovler has thrown for 1,338 yards with 17 touchdowns and five interceptions, adding eight rushing touchdowns. Ross has put up 1,245 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Running backs Solomon Hemingway and Mark Przybocki are also dangerous scoring options for the Eagles. A win over Albertus Magnus would complete a trifecta over arguably Section 1’s best three teams. Burke Catholic defeated Dobbs Ferry and Woodlands in back-to-back weeks earlier this season. Albertus Magnus earned its first berth in the state playoffs with a 17-7 win over Dobbs Ferry in the Section 1 title game. The Falcons have allowed an average of just 9.3 points per game.
“Albertus Magnus is a good, physical team,” Hoovler said. “They like to play physical and hard. We have to use our speed against them and make sure that we make our blocks up front. Everyone is excited for this game, especially since it’s Catholic school vs. Catholic school.”