CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – Fifth-seeded Yorktown continued their playoff run by taking down John Jay (Cross River), the defending Section 1 Class A champion and top seed, 20-7, in a semifinal contest on Nov. 1.
The road win, which was the 100th career victory for Huskers Coach Mike Rescigno, earned Yorktown a trip to the section championship game against No. 3 Rye, at Mahopac High School, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8.
The meeting will be the sixth time in the last seven seasons that Yorktown and Rye have played in the postseason. Rye has a 3-2 record in the previous five meetings, including winning the 2014 championship game.
For the Huskers (8-1), it will be their third trip in the last four years and fourth in the last six seasons, to the title game, with Yorktown beating Somers in the 2017 championship tilt.
Yorktown’s Dylan Smith said it was a great feeling to win at John Jay and get Coach Rescigno his 100th victory in the process.
“Going to the section finals for the fourth time since 2014 is crazy but this is Yorktown football,” Smith said. “This program is on another level from the coaching, the community, every little thing chips in to this program, and that’s what makes it so good.”
Smith feels that the key to winning the sectional title starts with a mindset that it will not be defeated.
“Many coaches and athletes want the glory, but they don’t want to put in the time to establish a successful culture,” Smith said. “I know that is not the situation on this team. Everyone puts in the time, especially the coaching staff, to establish a successful culture. Emotion will be huge as well. Discipline, determination, drive, and character. Everyone just has to do their job, just like they’ve been doing.”
Smith (29 carries, 199 yards, 2 touchdowns) put Yorktown on the board first with a 1-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter, with the first of two Josh Leffel extra points giving the Huskers a 7-0 lead.
Yorktown added to their lead on the ensuing kick-off to go up 13-0, when Dean Patierno (3 tackles) scooped up a John Jay fumble and went 38 yards for a touchdown.
“Plays like that really define the outcome of the game,” Patierno said. “I was just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. The touchdown felt great and really gave us a huge boost in confidence.”
Yorktown increased their lead to 20-0 when they finished off the opening drive of the second half—which went 12 plays, 61 yards, and lasted almost six minutes—on a 4-yard run by Smith.
“The key to that incredibly long drive was just for everyone to do their job,” Smith said. “If every single man on the field does their job then eventually something big will happen. The linemen were in a dog fight the whole game, they never game up, not for one play.”
Creating space for Smith were tight end Mike Benzinger, fullback Benjamin Robinson and linemen Matteo Cermele, Jack Tinari, Johnny Bowen, Eddie Capone and Gerald Gentile.
Quarterback Trevvon Johnson (7 carries, 63 rushing yards, 3 for 5, 46 passing yards) also made important contributions to Yorktown’s offensive effort.
John Jay did score on a 3-yard touchdown pass to cut the Yorktown lead to 20-7 late in the third quarter but didn’t get any closer thanks to a breakup of a deep Indian pass early in the fourth stanza by Patierno (3 tackles).
“It was a really important play, but the defense has been preparing for plays like that all week so I was expecting it,” Patierno said. “We needed to get the momentum back on our side and that play did just that.”
Highlighting Yorktown’s defensive effort were Gabe Valentin (9 tackles), Alex DeBenedictis (7 tackles, 1 sack), Tinari (6 tackles), Vincent Cappelli (5 tackles), Evan Makar (5 tackles), Nicholas Mehta (4 tackles), Capone (4 tackles), Robinson (3 tackles, 1 interception), Bowen (3 tackles, 1 sack), Keith Boyer (2 tackles) and Gentile (1 tackle).
“Our defense is definitely one of the most elite defenses in the section,” Patierno said. “John Jay arguably had the most powerful offense in the section but we work so hard week in and week out. Coach (Jeff) Cerar always has a great game plan and we have the weapons to execute.”