by Tom Pedulla –
The Hudson Independent offers its annual preview of the local high school football season:
The Eagles have no choice but to respond well to dramatic change. Joe Cox, who graduated from the school in 2002 and was an assistant to Jim Moran for seven years, succeeds Moran as head coach. He inherits a revamped roster since the defending Section 1 Class C champions graduated 13 players.
Preseason featured competition between senior Kevin Straub and junior Harry Dann for the quarterback job. Senior captain Tommy Ritch is expected to spearhead the running game out of the familiar Wing-T formation. He is joined by Jack Fessler, another senior captain, in the backfield. Wide receiver James McGovern is expected to be a top target.
Tackle Tommy Palicz anchors the offensive line. Jose Regalado will man the other tackle. Zach Soderquist and Cole Bettenili are set at guard.
Troy Rowe made significant strides during the offseason and is expected to bolster the defensive line.
“It’s going to be a group that works hard and earns the opportunity to play in big, important games later in the season,” Cox said.
Dobbs Ferry played for the state championship last year. Hopes are high again. “We want to be a team that can win a sectional title and try to make a run,” the new coach said.
Coach Simon Berk has compiled a 19-4 record through his first three years. The Hornets appear to be positioned for another successful season in the Metropolitan Independent Football League.
Conor McMahon, a big, strong thrower, returns at quarterback for his senior season. Enzi Teacher has worked his way back from a major hip injury to add a spark to the all-important ground game. Evan Lasseter and Josh Williams also will merit some carries. McMahon will have Logan Mueller, a sophomore, and Liam Murphy, a senior, as go-to receivers.
Center Will Kneisley will be flanked by guards Jordan Johnson and Tyler O’Brien. Walter Hoffman and Alex Kirchgaessner are the tackles.
The defense should get a lift from some promising young talent, namely sophomores Carter Hogg and Luke Chaisson at cornerback and Will Faier at defensive end. Faier is among 12 freshmen on the roster.
“If we can have young guys step into their roles quickly, we should have a successful year,” Berk said.
There is every reason to believe Hackley can compete for another title after defeating Hopkins School in last year’s bowl game.
“With the work they have been putting in, expectations are very high,” Berk said.
The Bulldogs are eager to rebound from a 2-7 season marked by too many injuries and too few wins.
Quarterback Aidan Daly, a senior who has been in the program for all four years, should benefit from the experience he gained at the position late last season. He will have Jason Anderson, Paul Galano and Max Forte as prime targets. Much of the ground game will fall to Michael Brennan, a hard-nosed back.
The offensive line figures to be one of the team’s strengths. The tackles will be Jake Stein and Justin Kim, both juniors. Freshman center Devant Webster, who appears to have a bright future, will work with senior guards Ryan Kelly and Payton Bailey beside him.
On the defensive side, sophomore cornerback Tommy Flanagan, among others, shows promise.
While some small schools are struggling to attract enough players, Coach Steve Yurek has done well in building enthusiasm for his program. “We have a solid 25 kids,” he said.
Part of the preseason was focused on improving special teams. “We worked to clean that up,” Yurek said. “We had some breakdowns there.”