It seemed as if Class A football might just be too much for Rye when Ossining capped a 16-play opening drive with a touchdown September 11 at Nugent Stadium.
As those in attendance soon learned, it was not the case. The Garnets immediately answered by driving for a touchdown and from that point on manhandled their opponents in a 21-6 win that wasn’t as close as the score indicated.
“It was really special,” said senior captain Cole McCormack, who rushed for over 130 yards with a touchdown on 16 carries. “I’m an emotional person, and that night got to every single part of me. To see the flag up there on 9/11, and then thinking about Chris Mello, a former captain who died that day – it was emotional. I was mentally exhausted by the end.”
Charlie Rollins, a senior captain and left guard, seconded his teammate’s remarks.
“It was an unbelievable game on a moving day,” said the last remaining offensive lineman from the 2008 team. “A few of us know people who died on 9/11, and on a rainy night with the fire truck parked by the field and the flag being raised, it was just an amazing experience, on top of beating a great team from Class A.”
The Garnets took command on the soggy night when junior quarterback Connor Eck connected with T.J. Storino on a 16-yard touchdown pass. Eck had kept the drive alive in Rye’s own territory early on when he converted a fourth-down pass to junior Brian Pickup. Eck smartly changed the formation at the line of scrimmage, moving his teammates into a spread attack, and picked up the first. The young captain finished the night with 93 yards through the air, including a second TD strike to Storino with 1:23 left in the half to put Rye up by the final score.
Keyed by a big block from fellow senior captain Brendan Nagle, McCormack busted off a 73-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that gave Rye an 8-point advantage. Nagle wasn’t the only one freeing up the skill players, as the Garnets’ new offensive line meshed and performed up to snuff. Joining Rollins on the line were left tackle Brian Levinson, center Brian Powers, right guard David Shaughnessy, and right tackle Anthony Vitiello.
“I thought we definitely clicked really well,” said Rollins. “Line coach Connor Dowling worked us all preseason, and coach Dino Garr teaches us every scheme so we know what is supposed to happen at all times.”
McCormack noted there is room for improvement on the line, but sung their praises. He singled out Vitiello, whom McCormack thought stepped up to have one of his best games.
After giving up the early score, the Garnets defense locked down. Ossining had just one first down in the second half and 16 yards of total offense. Nagle, doubling at linebacker, had two of Rye’s four sacks.
“We made adjustments on defense after that first drive,” said Nagle. “There is a sense of confidence that comes from our coach. He insists on never overlooking an opponent and going into every game expecting the worst.”
McCormack also credited the coaches for Rye’s continued success. He gushed about defensive coordinator Tom Maloney, and said the entire staff ensures the team plays to its best and, more importantly, intelligently. The key, he said, is to always be cognizant of what is going on with players, plays, and formations on every down.
Rye picked up their second win of the season when Saunders was forced to forfeit September 17 for lack of players. Although the Garnets were depressed about losing a game, Nagle said they took advantage by practicing hard all week for the Eastchester game Saturday, September 26, on the road.
“We’re pumped for what we consider an even bigger game than the Ossining one,” said Rollins. “Eastchester is in our league and they want this win badly. We both look good, so this is going to be a huge one.”