by Tom Pedulla –
Dobbs Ferry completed the regular season with a 6-2 record, a fine accomplishment for a team that depended heavily on underclassmen. The Eagles carried six seniors, only half of whom received significant playing time.
“We’ve been getting a lot better each week,” said Coach James Moran. “We were starting from ground zero with some guys.”
Moran rotated guards Harry Dann, Jack Fessler, Kosta Georgioudakis and Yaseen Hamideh. Justin Morgan, a junior, and Tyler Sepinski, a sophomore, received valuable playing time behind senior tight end Arman Cherian-ashe.
Nose guard Awvise Khan, a junior, emerged as a defensive force. “He’s undersized, really quick, with a great motor,” Moran said.
He has high hopes for quarterback Patrick Straub, who will be a senior. “He’s made a ton of progress. We can attack people through the air now,” the coach said. “It makes it more difficult to defend when we can run and throw it a little bit.”
The Eagles will sorely miss senior Jordan Lyerly, a potent offensive threat as a runner and pass receiver. He was a shutdown cornerback on the other side of the ball.
Hackley began the season aiming for a repeat of last year’s 7-0 perfection. Those hopes were dashed when they floundered during a 2-2 September. The Hornets alternated victories and defeats, absorbing losses to Albertus Magnus and The Pingry School of New Jersey.
“There were some coaching mistakes, some player mistakes,” said Simon Berk, the Hornets’ second-year coach. “It was a learning experience for all of us.”
Coaches and players made adjustments, and a much more powerful team took the field in October. Hackley rattled off three consecutive lopsided victories, routing Montclair Kimberly Academy 37-0, Morristown-Beard 26-6 and Riverdale Country School 33-8.
Berk has high hopes for tight end F.J. Hogg, who will be a senior. Junior center Dillon Schaevitz is a mainstay on the offensive line. Jordan Johnson, an outside linebacker, started as a freshman and offers great potential.
“He’s done an exceptional job for his first year in the program,” the coach said. “He certainly has a bright future with us.”
The Hornets must find replacements for two key seniors, quarterback Javon Coleman and running back William Waterhouse. That will not be easy.
Waterhouse regrets the games that got away. “The games we lost were definitely winnable games,” he said.
The Bulldogs fell short of their goal of qualifying for the playoffs. Their season-ending 28-20 loss to Briarcliff left them 3-5.
There is plenty of hope for the future, however. “We’re still a pretty young team,” said Steve Yurek after completing his second season as coach. “We have a lot of guys coming back.”’
Quarterback Liam Toolan will top the list of returning players. “He’ll be a senior next season. He’s dynamic,” said Yurek. “When he has time, he can really rip defenses apart.”
Frequent breakdowns in the offensive line troubled Irvington this season, though, and diminished Toolan’s effectiveness. Improving that unit will be among the off-season priorities. The continued progress of left tackle Ryan Kelly, who will be a junior, will certainly help.
Bullish running back Michael Brennan possesses the size and strength to build on a fine sophomore season. He is a workhorse back that can ease pressure on Toolan and the defense by keeping the chains moving.
Yurek views freshman middle linebacker Justin Kim as a “special player” with exciting upside. Running back Tim Mezaros and receiver Joey Clewell are among the seniors who were key contributors.