Youth Football Programs in Dobbs Ferry, Sleepy Hollow Building Blocks
By Tom Pedulla—
Strong youth football programs are one of the keys to building success at the high school varsity level. The Hudson Independent provides an overview of the tackle teams that are developing youngsters in Dobbs Ferry and Sleepy Hollow.
Grades 7 and 8
Two-year starters Mason Cruz and Joel Ojeda-Rivera are strong leaders on and off the field. Cruz is a force on the offensive and defensive lines. Coach Brandon Brailsford sees promise in Ojeda-Rivera, who is new to the quarterback position. “He’s always getting us in the right spot, helping out teammates,” Brailsford said.
Fullback Thomas Radomski is a tough runner with quick feet who cannot be brought down easily. “He fights for everything. He’s fearless,” Brailsford said. Defensive back and reserve quarterback Don Anthony DiLorenzo-Troy is smart and athletic and quick to pick up his teammates. Defensive end A.J. Santos is new to the program but is making great strides. Coaches believe he has a high ceiling.
Brailsford has high hopes for his team even though it must often compete against bigger towns. “We’re a scrappy bunch,” he said. “We could finish at the top of the nine teams in our league.”
Grades 5 and 6
The sky may be the limit for this squad. “As long as they stick with fundamentals and technique, they can beat anybody. They have all the talent in the world,” said Coach Dylan Luzon. “It all comes down to ‘How hungry are you?’ and right now we’re very hungry.”
No one more so than versatile Curtis Brown, who plays with passion no matter where he is positioned. He might be at his best as a hard-hitting inside linebacker. The mental aspect is huge at quarterback and Luzon could not be happier with Joseph Salerno. “His mind is like a sponge. He takes information and processes it immediately,” he said.
Running back Quinn Cronin stands out for reasons beyond the fact that she is a girl in a league filled with boys. She can be a difference-maker. “When she gets in the open field, she’s got explosive speed,” said Luzon. “There is no stopping her from getting into the end zone.” Right tackle Jack Finn anchors an offensive line responsible for creating openings for her and other talented backs to run through.
Defensively, Tristen Annisette is a force in the middle, even when he is double- or triple-teamed. Cornerback Eron Melsah excels as a sure tackler in the open field.
Grades 3 and 4
Frank Farrington and his family moved to the area from Texas during the summer. They immediately fit into the Dobbs Ferry community through football.
Farrington stepped up to share coaching duties with his brother, Kevin, and their children contribute to the team. Frank’s twins, Tito and Declan, help comprise the linebacker corps. Their cousin, Jack, plays tight end and defensive line.
Farrington said the program helped Tito and Declan transition to their new surroundings. “They came into the school year with friends because they practiced before the school year started,” he said.
Coaches are very encouraged by the very young talent they are developing. Sal Sallustio is displaying great potential as a hard-charging fullback. Jacob Tobin brings size and toughness at guard and defensive tackle. Dylan Gutman is passionate about becoming the best quarterback he can be. Andrew Perillo is proving to be a quick study at halfback and outside linebacker. Offensive and defensive tackle Victor Flores, while still learning the fundamentals, possesses intangibles that cannot be taught.
“I think we found lightning in a bottle. The kids are all very enthusiastic about playing,” Farrington said. “It’s been an incredible experience so far. I think it bodes well.”
Grades 3 and 4
Coaches Jason Duggan and Wibel Maria are working to build enthusiasm and ease parental concerns about the safety of the game. All youth coaches are trained to teach the safest possible tackling techniques while emphasizing values such as dedication and teamwork that will last a lifetime.
Duggan’s son, Brayden, shows potential as a passer and runner and is leading the offense as a first-year quarterback. Running back Isaac Cabrera is fast, quick and extremely difficult to corral. “He just seems to have the vision. He can see the field and knows when to make a cut,” Duggan said of Cabrera’s extraordinary feel for his position at such a young age. Cabrera is complemented by Eldridge Jackson.
Even in the early stages of his development as a player, Andy Garcia represents a rugged offensive and defensive tackle who is not afraid to mix it up. Caleb Walpuck brings the same grit to tight end. Second-grader Kyng Sharrock offers so much potential as a guard and defensive lineman that he was elevated from the flag football program. “He’s more aggressive out there than some of the older kids,” Duggan said.
Coaches hope to make up in enthusiasm what they lack in numbers. “We want them to learn and have fun so they will come back,” Duggan said.
Grades 5 and 6
This team is very much a work in progress for coach Brandon Young. “We have a lot of fifth graders who are moving up and adjusting to the size difference,” he explained, adding, “We have a lot of new guys who haven’t played ever.”
The backfield features two of the coach’s sons, Jordan at quarterback and Cameron at running back. Both are fierce competitors. Felix Matos is a sparkplug at running back. Young describes him as a “firecracker in the backfield.”
Caleb Miranda leads the offensive line while Mason Del Monaco plays the same role for the defensive line. Benjamin Grundstein is another key figure on both lines. Newcomer Albert Abreu is a gritty competitor who shows lots of promise.
“I am pleased with everyone’s focus and attention to detail and the progress we’ve made since we started, even with the new guys who have no experience playing tackle football,” Young said. “Everyone, for the most part, contributes.”Read or leave a comment on this story...