By Kevin Brown —
Last Friday night (Oct. 8), the world seemed back to normal at Sleepy Hollow High School. In front of a large, enthusiastic crowd, the Horsemen upped their record on the gridiron to 2-3 as they overwhelmed Nyack High School 35-14.
The Varsity Horsemen season got off to a challenging start. Just before the season opener against Pelham, projected starting QB Aren Arduino was ruled out with an injury. QB duties were turned over to back-up Junior QB Tyler Mahood.
On opening night in Pelham, the Sleepy Hollow defense played valiantly, but the offense was stuck in neutral. Carver Lis, Angel Maria, Nick Delmonaco, Bobby Lustyik, Mike Scaglione and Dante Almanzar were holding down the fort as tackling improved throughout the season. With a new coach, new system and new QB, it was going to take some time to evolve. The following two games against perennial powerhouses Harrison and Rye were equally challenging, but the team stayed focused and improved each week
Then, a stout Horsemen defense led to a 14-6 victory against Tappan Zee in Orangeburg. QB Mahood was 10 of 18 for 154 yards to primary targets Lustyik, Scaglione, Luke Many and Aidan McGuigan.
“We have a lot of younger kids on the squad. I give them so much credit. We completely changed the offense from a passing attack to the triple option. The players just kept practicing hard and believed,” Coach Jerry Flora explained with pride.
The Hollow faithful saw it all click into place on homecoming evening. The team ran the ball effectively as line play by Senior Captain Delmonaco, Damon Fedor, Jimmy Orzoria, Eric Vandervort and Almazar improved tremendously. Senior Captain Scaglione rushed for 103 yards, scoring two TDs. Scaglione also posted a TD on defense when he returned a fumble 40 yards for a TD.
“It was such an incredible night, and I’m so glad that this team was able to show fans what Sleepy Hollow Football is all about. Seeing the stands packed with friends, family and alumni was an amazing and unforgettable feeling. It has been five years since we won a homecoming game for our fans,” Scaglione said.
On a special evening, Justin Soto also pounded out 87 yards on the ground. The Horsemen continued getting great special teams play with great kicking from Zach Burnett, who also picked off a pass in the first quarter.
“The real difference from the first few games is that our football knowledge has greatly improved. Everyone understands the offense and is confident in their roles,” Flora said.
Just before the game, Arduino re-injured himself, ending his season. “As we move forward, we dedicate the rest of our season to our leader, Aren Arduino, for all of his dedication to this team.” Scaglione said.
Meanwhile, the homecoming king and queen and their courts were serenaded in front of the crowd. The winner of spirit week was announced. The band was playing. The fans were cheering. The alumni were in the new Alumni Alley. And the boosters were selling burgers and Sleepy-wear like it was 2019.