YORKTOWN, N.Y. – The first game of the Pantelis “Pont” Ypsilantis era is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, at Horace Greeley.
Yorktown finished 8-2 a year ago, falling to Rye in the section finals.
“It is difficult to put into words how excited this team is to get back after it,” said Ypsilantis, who is in his first year of coaching Yorktown after being a Husker assistant for six seasons. “Honestly, with everything that is going on with the world right now, being able to play a football game is a true blessing. Obviously, being played on a Sept. 11 also gives a little extra meaning to the game, as you are playing in honor and remembrance of those who lost their lives for us to have the freedom to play a football game. With all that, we just need to focus on the task and that is to prepare to play competitive football.”
Preparation has been a challenge during the pandemic.
“It has been a challenge, but the coaching staff is holding weekly Zoom meetings with some of our leadership, and we are checking in with the players,” Ypsilantis said. “Coaches are communicating on a daily basis. Now that we have our schedule, we can do some film work with the student-athletes to prepare for the upcoming season.”
The Huskers’ home opener will also be a highly anticipated one, as they host rival Somers on Thursday, Sept. 17.
“All home openers are special, as it stands for so much, and the student body and community are super excited to come out and support the team,” Ypsilantis said. “They have a great program over there, and it will be exciting to have a chance to play them.”
Yorktown’s rabid student body is “The Crop.”
“The Crop is an awesome part of Yorktown football, and I think that they help create a tremendous atmosphere for our home games,” Ypsilantis said. “They can have a significant effect on our team and visiting teams as long as they are focused and ‘all in’ on what is happening on the field. When they are on, they truly create a hostile home environment, and they have the opportunity to travel to away games, and create that same atmosphere on the road.”
The game is being played a day earlier because of the Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashanah. That can be a disadvantage in the Huskers’ preparation against Somers, but an advantage the following week, when they travel to crosstown Lakeland on Friday, Sept. 25.
“The process for preparation is the same, but you are basically short a day,” Ypsilantis said. “Everyone is in the same boat, but you have to prepare like it is any other week, just some segments in practice may be a little more condensed. As a coach, you still have to make sure that your kids are fully prepared. The bonus is that on the backend, we have some extra time to prepare for another great team in Lakeland, so it’s just a part of the process. If you prepare the right way in the offseason and work on building your fundamentals, a short week can be overcome.”
The schedule doesn’t get any easier, with the Huskers’ last two games against John Jay (Cross River) at home on Friday, Oct. 16, and at Rye on Friday, Oct. 23. Last year, the Huskers beat John Jay in the semifinals of the Section 1 Class A playoffs before falling to Rye in the finals.
“Having spent the last nine years in Class A, I can say that it is very difficult to win football games in this class,” Pont said. “The process is the same each and every week, and it is important to take each game one at a time. We are a young team that graduated 33 seniors and have two starters back playing an extremely difficult schedule. So, it is so important that we take it one day and one game at a time and prepare to play competitive football regardless of the opponent. That will be the key to surviving the entire schedule.”
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