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Scarsdale Football Falls, 23-7, in Playoffs

Varsity vs Clarkstown North HS on 10/22/2010 7:00:00 PM
Posted Thursday, October 21, 2010 by Patch.com

The excitement that surrounded the Clarkstown North football team en route to its first league championship in 37 years continued to build Friday night before a frigid but enthusiastic crowd in New City.

The once-beaten Rams had one thing on their collective minds: beat equally once-beaten Scarsdale in the Class AA quarterfinals and earn a much-anticipated rematch with Mahopac.

Consider it done. The No. 4 Rams (6-1) visit top-seeded Mahopac (7-0) next weekend in a semifinal.

Building upon a 10-0 halftime lead and nearly shutting down Scarsdale's vaunted triple-option attack, the Rams posted a one-sided 23-7 victory, their sixth of the season.

"We knew they could pass the ball but the line did a great job with pressure; the D-backs did a great job with coverage," said senior Dan Macalena, who scored two touchdowns.

"That's a good football team, they've been scoring a lot of points, but my defense stepped it up," enthused Rams coach Joe Trongone. "What did they score on? An option pass, whatever it was. I'm pleased for the kids, for the program, that's the biggest thing. We've been building it up the last few years, we've changed the attitude around here."

The visiting Raiders, who were coming off an impressive 20-0 win against Fox Lane, drew to within 10-7 at 9:53 of the third quarter on a well-executed option pass that caught North flat-footed.

Senior halfback Johan Drakes, whose 30-yard run set up Scarsdale at the North 41, then clicked on an option pass to senior receiver Matt Wheeler, who was wide-open for the touchdown.

 "We could have put our heads down there, but we didn't. We've been like that all year," Trongone lauded.

Instead, North showed its resolve and held quarterback Brian Bauersfeld to 100 yards passing on 8 of 21 attempts with one interception – Tareek Turner's in the final minutes when Scarsdale went deep to Wheeler.

The game was still tight, however, at 10-7 when North responded on senior Brian Rinciari's scintillating 44-yard touchdown scamper and Marco Cavaliere's extra-point kick, opening a 17-7 lead. Then Wheeler again figured in a key play – but this time a fourth-down run on a faked punt came up inches short.

"He's one of our special players; we just wanted to put the ball in his hands. We were really trying to do something to loosen them up," offered Scarsdale coach Andy Verboys. "The bottom line is, they were faster, quicker and more aggressive. They're a good team and we didn't play our 'A' game."

Trongone also felt the option pass and fake punt were indeed intended to change the tempo.

"I think they were looking to change the tune by coming up with a big play," Trongone said.

Macalena -- one of 21 seniors on North who almost immediately turned their attention to the upcoming rematch with Mahopac – capped a short drive following an exchange of fumble recoveries with a 12-yard bull-like run for the final score with 7:55 left to play. Macalena had opened the scoring with a 7-yard run late in the first quarter, following a 50-yard pass-run play from Luke Sullivan to Turner. Cavaliere split the uprights with a 25-yard field goal to make it 10-0.

"We are already focused on Mahopac," Macalena said moments after polishing off Scarsdale. "We played them hard (in a 21-13 loss), but we made a lot of mistakes. We won't those kind of mistakes again, not this time. We're more focused, we plan to keep on playing and win a Section 1 championship. We're excited, ready to play. We want them again."

Said Coach Trongone: "They wanted a rematch (with Mahopac) and they got it. In the first game we had turnovers, penalties and a blocked punt -- that's how they scored two of their three touchdowns. We can play with anybody in the section."

Extra points

  • Sullivan was 8 of 13 for 119 yards, many of those before intermission
  • North had a great opportunity to put the game away with a late drive in the first half that reached the Scarsdale 2-yard line. But a call went against them on what appeared to be a diving catch by Mike Paolino at the goal line, and a penalty pushed them back. When Cavaliere's attempted 31-yard field goal was partially blocked, the score stood at 10-0 at the break.
  • Many North supporters could be seen wearing sweat shirts with Fear the Ram emblazoned on the back. "It cost me $25," one wag offered.
  • Scarsdale, which fumbled six times in its win over Fox Lane, losing only one, was not much better in that department this week. "We put it (ball) on the ground four times and they did, too, but we didn't get any of them back," said Coach Verboys, who has rebuilt the program in five years in his second stint at the helm for the Raiders. The coach might have overestimated North's fumbles by one, but his point is well-taken. "We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times," said Macalena. "We should score from the red zone; we made it too hard. Now that we're in the playoffs we can't afford those mistakes."
  • Just as Fox Lane faced a problem preparing for Scarsdale's dangerous triple option, North faced a similar dilemma. "It's hard to prepare with our own players, so we watched hours of film a day with the kids," Trongone noted. "It's not the same as actually facing them (on the field), but it helps them visualize what happens."
  • Scarsdale's football program may have been turned around, but the fan base was not out in force last night. One supporter noted that even last week at home against Fox Lane -- virtually a playoff game in itself since a win was needed to move on – did not attract an overwhelming crowd.

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