As defenses go there isn’t much to separate New Paltz from Marlboro and New Paltz from Croton -- all have tough resilient defenses -- but the difference between the three teams is speed. That’s “SPEED”. As in faster, quicker, more apt to explode, than the other team. That was the difference in New Paltz’s 13-0 win over Marlboro, and it was the big difference in Croton’s resounding win over the Huguenots.
New Paltz got a “quick” example of that speed, as, with Croton bottling up Darryl Clark and Pete Ferrante between the tackles after the Huguenots got nine yards on a Jon Diaz run to start the game, they were forced to punt the ball away to the Tigers’ 28-yard line. Croton speed-burner Matt Tralli (think New Paltz’s freshman phenom Khariff Laboy 20 pounds heavier and a senior to boot) got five on first down. Then it was fullback Brian Soares (think New Paltz’s sophomore tailback Darryl Clark eight-inches taller and 20 pounds heavier and also a senior) for six and seven yards. Then Tralli again for six to the New Paltz 48. The front of Jon Schmitt, Kyle Roberts, Josh Tompkins and Trevor Delcotto then stopped Soares for no gain. It was second down. Croton sent Tralli outside in one-on-one coverage by the fleet Laboy. It was no contest. Laboy bit on a head fake and Tralli shot past him. Way past him. And gathered in Croton quarterback Jesse Maniero’s perfect throw at the 10-yard line and skipped in untouched for the touchdown. Dakota Arturo hit the point after and Croton was up 7-0 at 5:22.
New Paltz came back, moving from their 39-yard line to the Croton 32, where they stalled out. The Huguenots were aided by an offsides penalty on the Tigers on a fourth-and-two from their 47, giving them a first down, and a 12-yard scamper by Laboy (as it was to be: their longest gain of the game) from midfield to the Croton 38. A Kyle Januskiewicz-to-Chad Wells leaping reception gave New Paltz the ball at the 32, but Januskiewicz’s third down pass was tipped by Croton’s Max Jones and his fourth down screen pass was dropped by Pete Ferrante.
It took the Tigers just three plays to get on the board again, as Tralli, with a first-and-10 at the 43, dashed around right end, seemingly was stopped (or at least surrounded by maroon jerseys), broke back against the pursuit and raced across the field and down the left sideline for a 57-yard touchdown. The point after attempt was blocked by the New Paltz line, but it was Croton up 13-0 at 10:57 of the second quarter.
New Paltz had one more drive left in them before the half, moving from their 40 to the Croton 27 and facing a fourth-and-one. Diaz gained 11 yards on three rushes and Clark eight on two, but the big play of the drive was a roughing the kicker penalty on Croton for running into New Paltz punter Erik Simonson at the Croton 49. Facing the fourth-and-one, Januskiewicz and Clark botched the handoff, the ball falling to the Dietz Stadium turf, where it was recovered by Croton.
Midway through the third quarter, Croton, after a Simonson punt left the Tigers on their own 16-yard line and with the New Paltz defense finally containing Tralli, went to Soares (27 yards in five carries) and moved the ball down to the New Paltz 45. And there Maniero put the game out of reach, running for 24 yards on a busted pass-play and following that with a 21-yard touchdown run on yet another busted pass play. The point after by Arturo made it 21-0 Croton at 4:29.
And that was it. With injuries to starter’s Diaz (ankle, but he continued to play), Ferrante (hip, but he also continued to play), Wells (shoulder, and he couldn’t return), Delcotto (concussion, and he sat out the fourth quarter), the Huguenots could mount neither an answer offensively nor stop Croton on the defensive end. The Tigers amassed over 350 yards on the ground, as Tralli, Soares and Maniero all had over 100 yards rushing. Diaz led New Paltz with 25 yards on six carries.
In the end it was just too much speed. The kind of speed that most Section 9 teams don’t have to deal with throughout the season. New Paltz finished 9-2 and captured their third Section 9 Class B title in the last 10 years under head coach Tom Tegeler.