I had a great tour of some Section 9 football practices on Tuesday, starting with Newburgh Free Academy.
Then, it was off to Cornwall, John S. Burke Catholic, before ending the trip in Pine Bush. These were some of the hottest places to be this week. Why?
All four teams are set for big-time games this weekend. Newburgh hosts Pine Bush in a Section 9 Class AA Division I game at 7 p.m. Friday. Host Cornwall takes on rival Wallkill in a Class A showdown at 7 p.m. Friday. Meanwhile, Burke Catholic travels to James I. O’Neill at 6:30 p.m. Friday for a Section 9 Class C Division I showdown.
The Pine Bush-Newburgh game has big-time playoff implications. A Pine Bush (4-1, 2-0 Class AA) win clinches a postseason berth for the Bushmen. A Newburgh (4-1, 1-1 Class AA) loss, coupled with a Monroe-Woodbury win over Kingston on Friday, eliminates the Goldbacks from the playoffs for the second year in a row.
There will be plenty of talent on the field at Academy Field in front of a packed house. However, the running backs could steal the show. This is basically an all-star backfield. Newburgh rolls out Anthony Dubose, Aaron Forbes and Natore Dennis. Pine Bush counters with the dynamic duo of Mike Martin and Dylan Eller.
Eller and Martin have combined for 1,667 yards and 20 touchdowns this year. Dennis, Dubose and Forbes have 1,593 yards and 21 scores.
I caught up with Dubose and Forbes on Tuesday. Here is what they had to say about their counterparts at Pine Bush:
Next up? We check in with Martin and Eller:
On to the Burke Catholic-O’Neill game. The winner clinches the Class C Division I title. The Eagles beat O’Neill 26-21 last season, but the Raiders went on to win their second straight Section 9 Class C title.
It’s been an emotional week for the Eagles. Within a span of 24 hours on Sunday and Monday, former Burke Catholic coach Dwight Smith and team chaplain Rev. Patrick McGuigan passed away. Smith died after a battle with esophageal cancer. He was 68. McGuigan died suddenly after suffering a heart attack. He was 64.
McGuigan was pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in Middletown. Here is what Burke Catholic’s Joe Grasso and Matt Przybocki had to day about the emotional week, leading into the O’Neill showdown:
We wrapped up in Cornwall. What do you know? Cornwall (4-1, 3-0 Class A) is cruising.
But don’t count out Wallkill (4-1, 4-0 Class A). The Panthers are playing well and should give Cornwall a fight. The Green Dragons, who beat Wallkill 53-0 for last year’s Class A title, remain the favorite.
At Cornwall, we talked to defensive end Moiset Santos and linebacker John Roth about Wallkill: