What a great season it’s been so far in Section 9 football, complete with drama, big plays and must-see games.
Indeed, it has been a great run, but what else did you expect. However, week six, could turn out to be the mother of all weekend’s – the Section 9 championship games aside. The schedule is loaded with important games with playoff implications.
Let’s take a quick look at all of them:
Burke Catholic at James I. O’Neill, 6:30 p.m.
We all knew that the Class C Division I title would come down to two-time defending champion O’Neill and Burke Catholic.
The winner clinches the Division I regular-season championship. Burke Catholic (4-1, 1-0 Class C) has already qualified for the postseason. O’Neill is 4-1, 1-0 Class C, coming off a 28-21 non-league loss to undefeated Millbrook. Millbrook, of course, is another Class C contender.
O’Neill is led by senior quarterback Keegan West, who has 855 all-purpose yards and 11 touchdowns this season. Malik Chambers has 718 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns.
You know Burke Catholic can ground it out on the ground, too. Matt Przybocki has rushed for 711 yards and 12 touchdowns, despite missing some time with an injury. Don’t forget Stephon Sander, who has 452 yards and six scores.
Pine Bush at Newburgh, 7 p.m.
Could this be the best collection of running backs on one field in Section 9 history? OK, that might be pushing it, but there will be some talent on the turf at Academy Field on Friday.
For Pine Bush, it’s the dynamic duo, Mike Martin and Dylan Eller. Newburgh has the three-pack, Natore Dennis, Anthony Dubose and Aaron Forbes. Let’s break out a real bad cliché, how do they say? Pick your poison.
Pine Bush (4-1, 2-0 Class AA) clinches a Class AA playoff berth with a win in this Division I showdown. Newburgh (4-1, 1-1 Class AA) would be just about eliminated. The Bushmen are the defending Class AA champion and steamrolled Newburgh 41-0 last season, eliminating the Goldbacks from the playoffs.
Warwick at Washingtonville, 7 p.m.
This one will likely go a long way in likely deciding the Class AA Division II title. Both teams’ enter the match-up 1-0 in the division. Warwick is 4-1 overall and the Wizards are 2-3.
You know what Washingtonville is scheming to do: Stop the franchise, Warwick quarterback Brad Garcia. Garcia has rushed for 1,276 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. Washingtonville, which was eliminated from the playoffs in the last week of the season in 2012, is led by running backs Tony Via and Kendall Hicks.
Of course, Washingtonville also rolls out the leg, kicker Derek Deoul. His 52-yard field goal against Saugerties in a 41-6 win Saturday was a Section 9 record. The old mark was held by Minisink Valley’s Kyle Cazzetta, now a punter at Yale. Cazzetta was true from 51 yards against Pine Bush in 2010.
Don’t forget about another key Division II game on Friday. Minisink Valley (0-5, 0-2 Class AA) hosts Valley Central (2-3) at 7 p.m. Valley Central opens its league schedule against a team that one coach called “the best 0-5 team in Section 9 history”. Warwick beat Minisink Valley 18-12 last week and Washingtonville scored a come-from behind win over the Warriors in September.
Wallkill at Cornwall, 7 p.m.
Here we go again. Wallkill vs. Cornwall has evolved into one of the top rivalries in Section 9.
It peaked in 2010 when Wallkill ended Cornwall’s five-year run as champs. Since then, it’s been all Cornwall. The Green Dragons have won two straight Class A titles with wins over Wallkill. Cornwall did with an exclamation point last fall, defeating Wallkill 53-0 in the championship.
Cornwall quarterback Mike White threw for a Section 9-record 500 yards and the Green Dragons swarmed all day. White is back, so is his best receiver, Chris Bauer, and – despite being hit hard by graduation again – Cornwall is cruising. The Green Dragons (4-1, 3-0 Class A) have won four straight since opening the year with a 49-20 loss to Pine Bush.
Cornwall has won its three Class A games (Roosevelt, Port Jervis and Monticello) by a combined score of 116-39. But it’s Wallkill (4-1, 4-0 Class A) who is in first-place in the division. After opening the season with a loss to Valley Central, Wallkill has won four straight divisional games, escaping trouble in all of them.
Not a problem. Cornwall usually brings out the best in Wallkill…..and vice versa.
Middletown at Port Jervis, 2 p.m.
No playoff implications here, but this game is BIG! It’s the Erie Bell Game, chock full of history and tradition.
Yes, this one is for bragging rights.
Middletown dominated Port Jervis 30-0 last season on a beautiful Thanksgiving day at Faller Field. Expect this game to be closer in a battle of 2-3 teams.
Middletown now leads Port Jervis 70-57-7 in the all-time series, which began in 1897. In terms of games played, Middletown vs. Port Jervis is one of the longest high school football rivalries in the country. The Red Raiders defeated Middletown 13-12 in 2011 the first Erie Bell game played on Thanksgiving since 1969.
Both schools’ agreed to move the game from Thanksgiving this year.
Other key games: Monroe-Woodbury at Kingston, 7 p.m. on Friday; New Paltz at Red Hook, 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.