Rivals Hernandez (M-W) and Smith (NFA) ready to come together at Brockport

Photo credit: Zoe Matthews
By Justin Rodriguez
Section 9 Football Insider

Monroe-Woodbury wide receiver Kenny Hernandez burned several defensive backs last season, but he remembers one challenging match-up: Newburgh’s Vern Smith.

“(Smith) played a lot of good defense at corner,” Hernandez said. “It was difficult to go against him.”

It was also intense. Monroe-Woodbury and Newburgh are fierce Section 9 Class AA rivals.

“I think we might of trash talked a little bit in the past,” Hernandez said.

Photo credit: Brian Byrnes

However, both players are looking forward to getting to know each other over the next four years. The standouts will play in the secondary for Division III SUNY Brockport this fall. Both Hernandez and Vern Smith, a 2017 Section 9 Football Insider first-team all-star, played wide receiver and defensive back as seniors.

“Regardless of the rivalry, this great because both kids have the opportunity to play football at the next level,” Newburgh coach Bill Bianco said. “Not only that, Brockport plays really good football. I think it’s a home run for both kids. Newburgh and Monroe are two really good programs and attract good schools.”

Photo credit: Zoe Matthews

Added Monroe-Woodbury coach Ryan Baldock: “I think it’s an interesting dynamic that Kenny and Ryan will be college teammates. But it happens all the time and I’m sure that they have a lot in common. I wouldn’t be surprised if they take to one another very quickly.”

Brockport put together a historic season in 2017 under National Coach of the Year James Mangone, finishing 13-1, while reaching the Division III national semifinals. The Golden Eagles lost to Mary Hardin-Baylor 24-0 in the final four. Brockport finished the season ranked fifth in both the AFCA and D3Football.com National polls.

Photo credit: William Dimmit

Hernandez and Smith add to Brockport’s list of former Section 9 standouts. Once rivals, the dynamic duo are looking forward to helping the Golden Eagles remain a national power.

“I’m sure that we will get along well,” Hernandez said. “As far as the rivalry, that is just how life is. That’s over now and I think we are both ready to go in there and compete.”

Follow Justin Rodriguez on Twitter at @jrods9insider