Hudson Valley Sports Report


Storylines, Teams And Players To Watch This Fall

By Rich Thomaselli
HVSR Staff

Every team has question marks in high school football, even the Marlboros of this world.

Here are 10 of the biggest that need answering as we wrap up the first week of preseason practice and head into the season openers on Aug. 31.

1) SO, DOES MARLBORO HAVE ANY FLAWS? – Flaws, no. This team looks like a juggernaut, even though Section 9, Class B welcomes two-time Class C champion Burke, which moved up. Vulnerabilities? Sure. And it’s universal to every team – injuries. The Iron Dukes are so senior-laden, can they survive an injury to a major contributor and not have any appreciable fall-off?


2) IS LOURDES GOOD ENOUGH TO MAKE NOISE IN SECTION 1, CLASS A? – Not only is Class A the most competitive, most difficult in Section 1, it might collectively be the best group of teams in the state. OLL is highly thought of as a contender in Class A but the Warriors are already missing a couple of key components that were said to be returning in other publications – running back Evan Mullaly transferred to John Jay and receiver Nick Timm has decided to concentrate on his running career. Jaheim Jones is back as one of the premier tailbacks in the area, and word on the street is that quarterback Max Kras has made vast improvements over last year. A big, strong line will lead the way.

3) SPEAKING OF JOHN JAY, CAN THE PATRIOTS BREAK THROUGH AGAIN? – John Jay will always have a ton of talent, and adding Mullaly certainly helps. The roadblocks in the past have been New Rochelle and Scarsdale and, the past two years in the league play, Arlington. But first, the roadblocks are internal – can the Patriots overcome deep graduation losses as well as the loss to injury of quarterback Richie Eletto.

4) IS CORNWALL’S AIDAN SEMO THE MOST EXCITING YOUNG PLAYER IN THE AREA? – Well, put it this way. Semo is good enough to have already earned the starting nod at quarterback for the Dragons. At the age of 15. Now, we’ve seen some phenomenal kids dominate at a young age – Saugerties’ Dior Johnson was virtually unstoppable as a seventh- and eighth-grader playing varsity basketball before announcing this week he was transferring to IMG Academy in Florida for high school. But this is varsity football, arguably the toughest high school sport for someone so young to master. Semo might have some growing pains, but his talent will most certainly be on display.

5) SINCE SPACKENKILL DROPPED DOWN TO SECTION 9, CLASS C, WILL ANYBODY BE ABLE TO STOP THE SPARTANS? – After a long and thoughtful contemplation, the answer is … no. Spackenkill is just ridiculously big for a Class C school – have you seen Dhyquem Lewinson and Ozzie Hutchinon???


6) CAN BURKE HANG WITH MARLBORO IN CLASS B? – Double whammy for the Eagles. Not only is the program moving up to Section 9, Class B after winning the last two Class C sectional crowns, but they lose three of the best players in the area – running back David Ross, and all-state performers Mark Przybocki (linebacker) and Heath Hoovler (quarterback). But Ross’ departure paves the way for Solomon Hemingway to step into the fulltime role as the primary ball-carrier. And, of course, coach Aaron Hasbrouck is one of the best in the area. This team will be a work in progress, and what you see on Sept. 29 when the Eagles play Marlboro might not be the best version that Burke will be come playoff time a month later.

7) WHAT DOES ARLINGTON HAVE TO DO TO WIN A THIRD STRAIGHT LEAGUE TITLE? – Find a running game. The defense shouldn’t be a worry but, man, did Ricardo Yolas run up a storm last year and take the pressure off quarterback Xavier Powell. Yolas has graduated and Powell is back, so let’s see how the backfield plays out this season.

8) NEWBURGH OR MONROE-WOODBURY? – Uh …. How about Pine Bush? Everybody is talking about either Newburgh winning its fifth straight Section 9, Class AA title this season, or Monroe-Woodbury making a return to glory for the first time since 2013 behind standout quarterback Steven Campione and four returning starters on the offensive line. But let’s not discount Pine Bush. Remember, the Bushmen made the sectional title game last year before falling to NFA and return quarterback Haakon Meland, two solid runners and a Division I recruit in defensive lineman Robert Jackson.

9) WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH EIGHT-MAN FOOTBALL? – As Hudson Valley Sports Report first reported back in late November, several area schools were considering switching to eight-man football. It’s no longer under consideration. Dover, Pawling, Pine Plains (with Rhinebeck), Fallsburg, Tri-Valley, Sullivan West, Eldred and the combined team of Livingston Manor, Roscoe and Downsville have all switched to eight-man football. And Red Hook, formerly in Section 9, Class B, will play an independent schedule. This is the way of the new world of high school football, folks. With dwindling participation in the sport, the Hudson Valley and other parts of the state are doing what they can to avoid abandoning the sport entirely.

10) WHO HAS THE TOUGHEST SCHEDULE? – Well, everybody plays a difficult schedule, but I’d hate to have Roosevelt’s start to the season – two-time defending Section 9, Class C champ Burke to open the year, followed by road games at Minisink Valley and Warwick, and a Week 5 game against eight-time defending Class A champ Cornwall.


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