by Tom Pedulla –
Patrick Straub, in his third year as quarterback at Dobbs Ferry, could not have had a more appropriate word on the back of the blue shirt he wore during a recent practice: Tradition.
Straub, aiming to lead the Eagles to the Section 1 Class C championship game for the third consecutive year, has grasped the significance of his school’s rich football tradition since he started playing the all-important quarterback position in third grade.
Straub’s father, Alan, never tasted the bitterness of defeat in three seasons as a center and linebacker at Dobbs Ferry. His teams rattled off a 30-0 record from 1983-1985 as part of an eventual 42-game winning streak, then the highest in the state.
Veteran Dobbs Ferry fans cherish memories of those days. But they are equally sure to embrace every football team, and Straub feels the strength of their backing every bit as much as his father did.“That’s the great part of playing for this town,” he said. “Everybody comes to the games. It definitely brings the community together.”
Straub (6-0, 170 pounds) and his teammates also feel the burden of expectations.“I try to have as much fun as possible,” he said, “but there is definitely pressure in football, more than any other sport I play.”
Straub was chosen to be a member of the varsity team as a freshman to help him acclimate to that level and the attention that surrounds the team. He became the starter as a sophomore and took the Eagles to the Class C title. They fell short to Albertus Magnus in the championship game last year.
Alan has seen his son grow with almost every game.“With the history of Dobbs Ferry, knowing the background and the winning streak in the 1980’s, he definitely has pressure,” the father said. “This year and toward the latter part of last year, he’s a lot cooler. He used to have the weight of the world on his shoulders, but he’s a different kid this year.”
Straub has come to possess essentially a coach’s knowledge of the old-school wing-T offense Dobbs Ferry employs to great effectiveness, often running opponents into the ground.“We audible a lot,” said coach Jim Moran. “He’s a very smart kid. He has the ability pre-snap to read what’s going on and get us into the best play possible.”
Straub knows the role each offensive player must execute for the Eagles to soar. “You basically ask him any position — lineman, running back, receiver – he’ll know what you have to do,” said halfback Jack Baglieri. “If someone blanks out, go to him and he can tell you anything.”
Straub has been working with quarterback coach Kevin Kernan since the sixth grade. He has come to relish the responsibility he has. “I get to touch the ball every play. It’s always in my hands. It’s definitely challenging,” he said. “It’s definitely a big role, but I like to take on the leadership aspect.”
Although the wing-T is run-oriented, Moran now takes advantage of Straub’s strong, accurate arm by at least occasionally having his team line up in a shotgun formation to put a defense on its heels. Moran said of Straub’s evolution, “He went from being a game manager to somebody who makes plays.”
Dobbs Ferry enjoyed a solid start this season after compiling a 7-3 record last year. “I always like to say, ‘There is no better feeling than winning a football game’ because not everybody knows how much work goes into it,” Straub said. “For this season, we’ve been preparing since last winter.”
There is, after all, tradition to uphold.