Final top 15 rankings: WE/HV football
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Westchester/Hudson Valley Football Rankings (11/29)
1. Iona Prep (6-4): It’s odd putting the Gaels here considering they lost four games and didn’t even play for a title. But when you look at how they played St. Anthony’s in both games, and what they did to Stepinac, and how can you not? Iona Prep was extremely talented from top to bottom and have a strong core returning. Prediction for 2012: With a ridiculously-talented JV, expect Iona to reach the CHSFL title game and threaten the St. Anthony’s dynasty.
2. Stepinac (9-3): The Crusaders were able to end the season on a high note after a frustrating loss to St. Anthony’s in the title game. The game definitely earned them a ton of respect (and they learned how difficult it is to win on Long Island!). Football fans should also thank Caleb Gilligan-Evans for four special seasons. He left his mark on Stepinac football. Prediction for 2012: It will be hard to top the last two seasons but look for the Crusaders to make it back to the CHSFL semifinals.
3. Newburgh Free Academy (10-2): An eight-point loss in the state title game put an unfortunate end to a magical season for the Goldbacks. They knocked off Monroe-Woodbury and captured their first Section 9 title in seven years along the way thanks to a dominant defense. Prediction for 2012: Newburgh will go back-to-back as Section 9 champs.
4. North Rockland (9-2): Who expected the Red Raiders to win a playoff game — let alone three and unseat New Rochelle as the Class AA champs? Not many. And the foundation for the future has been set. Tom Lynch has brought a great energy and defensive mindset to the program in his first season as head coach. Prediction for 2012: The Red Raiders get back to the final but don’t repeat.
5. John Jay-East Fishkill (8-2): The Patriots made tremendous strides this season and got so much out of a talented senior class. They beat New Rochelle in the regular season and took North Rockland to overtime in the Class AA title game. A tough end but an impressive resume nonetheless. Prediction for 2012: So much talent graduates but Jay will be a playoff contender again.
6. New Rochelle (7-2): By New Rochelle standards, 2011 was largely forgettable because it didn’t end with a Section 1 title. It does remind those around the city how difficult it is to win championships and may prove to be the best thing for the 2012 Huguenots. A lot of young players got valuable experience. Prediction for 2012: New Rochelle wins the Section 1 Class AA title.
7. Monroe-Woodbury (8-2): Like New Rochelle, seasons that don’t end with championships are disappointing at Monroe-Woodbury. The Crusaders were the victim of a flawed playoff system, and it would have been interesting to see what would have happened in a rematch with Newburgh. But it serves as a learning experience for the young talent Monroe does have. Prediction for 2012: Monroe gets back into the playoffs but falls to Newburgh in the final.
8. Cornwall (10-1): Take away a rainy night against Wallkill and the Dragons put together a near flawless run to the Class A state semifinals. There was outstanding talent on both sides of the ball and they played two dominant games against Wallkill and Poughkeepsie. Prediction for 2012: Cornwall wins another Class A championship.
9. Poughkeepsie (10-1): The Pioneers blew through Section 1 thanks to a special quarterback in Josh Oliver and a defense oozing with talent. Poughkeepsie put it all together this season and, even though this was a senior-heavy team, these young players learned what it takes to win a title. For next year and beyond: watch out. Prediction for 2012: A new wave of players leads Poughkeepsie to the Section 1 title game.
10. John Jay-Cross River (9-1): After a rough opening-day loss, the Indians went on a tear and had all the makings of a Section 1 champion before losing a heartbreaker to Poughkeepsie in the final. John Jay didn’t have much depth but still won nine games in a brutally-tough conference and with playing three playoff games in 11 days. Impressive. Prediction for 2012: The Indians utilize their two quarterback system and make it back to the Class A semifinals.
11. Clarkstown South (7-2): The Vikings came practically out of nowhere and were not only a playoff team — but one with serious title aspirations. They had a relentless defense and dynamic running duo in Frank Tucek and Thomas Lent. It was a great year for the program to build off of. Prediction for 2012: Clarkstown South gets back to the Class AA playoffs.
12. White Plains (6-4): The Tigers rebounded from an 0-2 start to make the Class AA playoffs before a heartbreaking one-point loss at New Rochelle on a missed two-point conversion attempt. Even though their season ended with another loss to Stepinac, you cannot deny the level of talent this White Plains squad had. Prediction for 2012: The Tigers reach the Class AA playoffs.
13. Dobbs Ferry (11-1): When you go out and dominate in the state championship, no matter what class you’re in, you deserve to be on this list. Dobbs Ferry put up one of the most flawless efforts I’ve seen by any team all season in the Class C title game, beating Southwestern 39-0 for the fourth championship in school history. The skill position talent on this team was phenomenal. Prediction for 2012: The Eagles graduate so many seniors — but they bring back Tim Soave. That’s enough for me. Dobbs repeats as Section 1 champs.
14. Rye Country Day (10-0): The best season in school history was also one of the most dominant you’ll ever see at the varsity level. Rye didn’t have one close game until its bowl game against Massachusetts power Pingree, which it won by stopping a two-point conversion attempt late in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats could have competed with the majority of the Class A, B and C teams in Section 1. Prediction: RCDS will win another Fairchester League championship.
15. Croton-Harmon (11-1): The final game shouldn’t overshadow what this team accomplished or how good it really was. Croton ran into a buzzsaw in the state final, losing to a Hornell squad that’s now won three state championships and 39 games in a row. As I’ve said many times before, the quartet of captains Jesse Mainiero, Kyle Ricciardi, John Brennan and Dennis O’Connell leave a lasting legacy on this program. They were special to be around. Prediction for 2012: Croton gets back to the Section 1 semifinals.
Section 1 rankings
1. North Rockland
2. John Jay-East Fishkill
3. New Rochelle
4. Clarkstown South
5. White Plains
2. John Jay-Cross River
1. Dobbs Ferry
5. Blind Brook
Section 9 Rankings
1. Red Hook
3. Red Hook
3. Burke Catholic
Email Kevin Devaney Jr. at email@example.com