Hudson Valley Sports Report


Patriots Have A Chance To Bring Home Second Sectional Crown

By Rich Thomaselli
HVSR Staff

WICCOPEE – Let’s get right to the point when it comes to John Jay High School football, circa Day 1 of the 2019 season. There is a buzz in the community – heck, probably in the section – that this is the Patriots’ year.

And why not?

Several key returning players, a talented group up from the JV, one of the best coaches in the area and a runner-up finish in Section 1, Class AA last year have all formed to create the perfect storm.

And the players know it.

“I think I can speak for the team when I say we are very anxious for this season to begin,” said senior Luke Mahon, a talented offensive player who scored 25 touchdowns last year. Mahon can play anywhere in the backfield, and he proved it by taking over at quarterback after senior Richie Eletto and sophomore Dan Beal went down for the season last year. “We have very high goals coming off a great season last year. With an undefeated regular season, and being section runner-ups, all we can have in mind is becoming section champions.”

The team goal is always to go win a championship. Anything less is seen as a disappointment. — John Jay senior lineman Joe Griggs

Four things will need to happen, none of which are any less important than the others.

First and foremost, Jay will have to overcome graduation losses to a defense that was second to none last year. Having the talent to execute defensive coordinator Jim Cancellari’s scheme is important, of course, but hardly anyone could figure out the Xs and Os. The Patriots pitched seven shutouts in nine games before falling to New Rochelle in the sectional final.

Second, New Rochelle. New-Ro has had John Jay’s number in recent years, although that isn’t a fluke since the program is a winner of multiple sectional championships and a perennial contender. This year, though, the Patriots will get a barometer of where they are far earlier than in the past – Jay hosts New Rochelle in a non-league game in Week 5.

“We really want to go out there with great intensity and prove people wrong,” Joe Griggs, one of the best two-way linemen in the area, said about any perceptions that might exist that the Patriots lost too much to graduation. “We always go out there with a chip on our shoulders and make sure if we get punched we punch back harder.”

Thirdly, the New-Ro game ends a five-week gauntlet for the Patriots that includes opening the season against section semifinalist Carmel, the annual tilt with Arlington, a tough battle with Mahopac and the yearly slugfest with archrival and intra-district rival Ketcham.

Finally, John Jay will need a heralded group of JV players coming up to the varsity to step right in and shine, including Liam Ryan, Steven Muller, Steven Mauro, Austin Kazup, Mason Payton and Alex Rodrigues.

“We have a solid core of returning players and our new players moving up from the JV have been meshing nicely and beginning to gain some experience,” head coach Tom O’Hare said.

Said Mahon: “As for our upcoming sophomore and juniors we have unreal talent coming up and it’s very exciting to see what these guys will be able to accomplish. With a very senior-heavy defense last year there are a lot of shoes to fill, and I believe a lot of our upcoming JV players will be able to get the job done.”

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