Ready or not, here we go, folks. It’s our first weekly installment of previews and picks. Please be sure to tell me if you think they’re on the mark or if I’m asleep at the switch.
Rye at John Jay (Thursday, 5:30 p.m.): Last year, John Jay opened the season against Somers in what proved to be a matchup of eventual sectional champions. That could be the scenario again this season for the Indians since both John Jay and Rye are favorites to win their respective classes. And why not? They’ve both won back-to-back titles. They all shared something else in common Ã¢â‚¬â€ strong defenses. John Jay’s defense of Maryland-bound all-American Ryder Bohlander, Providence-bound Justin Schneidman and Bobby Crossett returns intact. But the Indians lost all-American Connor Sweeney (Holy Cross) in goal. Look for Chris Latino, who is also a hockey star for the Indians, to be in between the pipes. Rye’s defense is anchored by Ohio State-bound T.J. Smith, who is fresh off sectional-title winning seasons in both football and hockey. Considering Rye has won back-to-back sectional titles, it has to be considered surprising it has not had an all-America honoree during that span. But if the Garnets three-peat this season, you’d have to figure they will likely get one, if not two, all-Americans, and Smith has to be considered a strong contender, as do Yale-bound senior goaltender Colin Hart and senior attackman Matt Donahue, who will attend Denver, and is considering trying to earn a spot on the team there. While both teams are strong defensively, John Jay gets a clear edge offensively with its entire attack back. The Indians also have another clear advantage: depth.
Prediction: John Jay 14, Rye 8
North Salem at Byram Hills (Thursday, 4:15 p.m.): North Salem, guided by former Scarsdale coach Brendan Curran (who lives in North Salem), is one of three new varsity programs this season Ã¢â‚¬â€ along with Edgemont and Irvington. Of note is the fact that with North Salem now having a program, every school district is northern Westchester/Putnam now has a varsity team except Carmel.
Prediction: Byram Hills 9, North Salem 4
Hen Hud at Putnam Valley (Friday, 4:30 p.m.): Hen Hud has been to Class B finals or semifinals seven straight years. Putnam Valley has made the Class C finals three straight years. This should be an interesting game and interesting barometer for both teams. Hen Hud is led by the dynamic duo of midfielders Rob Bosco and Chase Bernard. Putnam Valley has one of the best goaltenders in the area in Cory Ender.
Prediction: Putnam Valley 7, Hen Hud 5
Harrison at Ossining (Update: The game, originally scheduled for Friday at 4:15 p.m., has been moved to April 30 at 6 p.m.): Manhattan-bound Brett Miranda of Ossining is a 6-foot-1, 210-pound attackman/midfielder who is a four-year varsity starter. He has 145 career goals and was the eighth-leading scorer in Section 1 last season with 54 goals and 84 points. He is a physical player with good stick skills and a strong shot. Harrison returns leading scorer Andrew Greenberg as well as another athletic midfielder in A.J. Bonistall. Both and seniors and both were also football standouts for the
Prediction: Ossining 12, Harrison 7
Dave Kennedy/Journal News file photo
Rhamel Bratton of Huntington in action against Somers during last year’s Class B state semifinals at West Point.
John Jay at Huntington (Saturday at 2 p.m.): Is this round one? With John Jay’s move down to Class B, these national powers could also wind up meeting in the state semifinals at Hofstra on June 7. For now, this meeting will go a long way toward determined whether John Jay has a realistic chance of making its first appearance in the state championship game. After all, “Huntington”:http://www.huntingtonlax.com/ is the two-time Class B state champion and preseason No. 1-ranked team in the nation. In addition, the Blue Devils have won Ã¢â‚¬â€ gulp Ã¢â‚¬â€ 44 games in a row. True, they did lose perhaps the best midfielder in last year’s senior class to Georgetown in Scott Kocis, but back are the Virginia-bound twin brother midfield combo of Shamel and Rhamel Bratton, another strong middie in Fred Catanese, attackman Zach Howell, not to mention a strong goaltender in Sean Brady. As if that’s not bad news enough for John Jay, the Indians won’t be at full strength for the game. The University of Maryland-bound defenseman Ryder Bohlander will be upstate in Scotia, attending the wedding of his older brother Mike, the strength and conditioning coach at Pace. John Jay will need a big game from its potent attack of Chris Bocklet, Brian Douglass and Kevin Stockel, who are all Division I recruits. Bocklet, the No. 4-ranked junior in the nation, will be joining the Brattons at Virginia. It will be interesting to see whether or not John Jay plays zone in this game in an effort to slow down the athletic Blue Devils.
Prediction: Huntington 15, John Jay 9
Fordham Prep at Mahopac (Saturday at 3 p.m.): This is an intriguing game because Fordham Prep has won 11 of last 12 CHSAA titles, but, for the most part, has not scheduled any Section 1 powers during that time. So it will be very interesting to see how the Rams perform here, and several Fordham Prep players told me they feel the same way. For Mahopac, attackman Tyler Perrelle, already a two-year starter though just a sophomore, leads a solid group of offensive players that includes attackmen Martin Feehan and Joe Daley and midfielders Tyler Leithead, Frank McGuigan and Kyle Ahlers. Also back is goalie Rob Izzo, who starred in a 6-5 semifinal loss at Yorktown.
Prediction: Mahopac 10, Fordham Prep 7