Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Lane To Success

After they eked out a tight, dizzying 19-15 win over Horace Greeley HS Saturday, Fox Lane kept their undefeated record intact while prolonging their stay at the top of the Class A/Section I heap.

Is Fox Lane (Bedford, N.Y. area) the team to beat this season? Well, at 5-0, it's still too early to peg them them as the real deal. But I will say, they are no laughing matter.

The Foxes came roaring back from an early 14-0 deficit at a jam-packed field in Chappaqua, and were bailed out by the stockpile of penalties that Greeley committed. Many of Greeley's penalties were late in the game and essentially gift-wrapped the win for the Foxes.

Still, the No.15-ranked squad in the state is off to a smoking start, their best in recent memory, after losing a bit of their luster from last year. Young guns have stepped into significant roles and the team has shown poise, potency, and a penchant for airing it out.

Jesse Hunt, the Foxes' senior gunslinger, has vaulted into the periphery of the Player of the Year race. His target of choice, Timmy Mueller, has established himself as one of the best route-runners in the county. These two young guns have been throwing the ball together since they were pre-pubescant, pint-sized ponies, climbing the ladder to the front-and-center stage of the Varsity level together.

Remember the scene at the end of Dazed And Confused when Pink and Benny are slugging down brews in Benny's truck, talking about how they've worked for their senior year of football their whole lives, and Benny is telling Pink if he decides to quit senior year, he'd be letting the small football-fiending town and all his Texas-bred boys' down?

"Benny, we're going to be champions, together."

Well, that actually is out of left field. The point is, however, these two young guns have worked for it. They know each other's game and have been there every step of the way. Now Hunt-Mueller have established themselves as one of the county's elite connections, as Fox Lane has perched at the top of the Class A's Everest. But coach Bill Broggy knows his team needs to better certain facets of their game, especially with Somers (5-0) and perennial powerhouse Rye (4-1) sporting their hiking boots and eyeing the mountaintop.

Here's how it went down last Saturday:

A stockpile of untimely penalties played a significant role in Fox Lane's tight 19-15 win over Horace Greeley at Chappaqua Saturday.

The Quakers, hellbent on handing the 5-0 Foxes their first loss of the season, squandered an early 14-0 bulge.

They squandered a serious surge of momentum before a sea orange and blue-clad fans in the second half, following a break-neck 62-yard touchdown run by Greeley's Richie Giner.

The Quakers wanted this win like a junkie wants crack. They had took in Fox Lane's signature night win over Nyack the week before and had prepared to send them home with their first "L" of the season.

Giner broke off two touchdown runs, but penalties and crucial scoring plays by the Foxes helped keep Fox Lane's unblemished record intact.

"This is going to be a tough pill to swallow," said a visibly frustrated and emotionally drained Bill Tribou.

The longtime Quaker coach, whose team ran off three impressive victories before this memorable, marquee match-up, realizes Greeley will need to rebound from the crushing loss. They'll need to rebound quickly, with heavy aspirations to claw their way into the Coaches Bowl bracket of the post-season.

"We committed some major penalties at the worst possible situation," Tribou explained.

"I thought we stopped the run pretty well but they're a good team and good team and good teams make things happen. (Jesse Hunt) made some great plays today."

That he did.

Hunt, Fox Lane's senior gunslinger, continued to stake his claim as one the county's elite. He went 8-for-16 for 160 yards, throwing and running for a touchdown.

Much of Greeley's focus was on stopping Fox Lane receiver Timmy Muller, the standout senior (and Hunt's primary target) who reeled in four passes for 101 yards.

"It was really a priority," said Tribou of the concentrated effort to bottle up Muller.

The clamp-down operation helped take the stress off other receivers, as Hunt hit Sean Jones with a 25-yard pass to stop the bleeding in the second.

Hunt took matters into his own hands in the third stanza. He eluded tacklers and ripped off a 14-yard scoring run to knot up the score, 12-12.

Mueller's kick split the uprights, giving Fox Lane their first lead of the

"I thought they (Greeley) controlled the tempo early," said Fox Lane coach Bill

"We couldn't stop their running game. We've got to get better, because there's
still just too many holes in the defense. The kids never quit, that's what I
admire about them. That's why I love these kids, they never quit. They have
heart...It was a good win for us, a real good win."

After Greeley's Andrew Leftkowitz nailed a 32-yard field goal in the fourth
quarter to regain the lead, Fox Lane was quick to answer.

The seas opened for running back Karanja Elliot (15 carries, 68 yards).
Elliot penetrated the teeth of the Greeley defense on a wowing 15-yard scoring

"Our running game, when we needed it was there," said Broggy. "We didn't
fumble the ball and we didn't turn the ball over, and that was important."

A marquee victory was important, as Fox Lane continued to prove they're no
joke this season.

"I thought we came out flat," said Hunt. "We were real amped but they came
out harder than us because they had to win to get into the playoffs. At halftime
we made some real good adjustments and we came out better in the second half."

Hunt heaped praise on his teammates, who stepped up while Mueller was caught
in double coverage early.

"They did a really good job of making their own plays," said Hunt.

So, the Knicks are still...The knicks. You had to be twisted to enjoy last night's fall from grace, as the Knicks shot an abysmal 7-for-41 from beyond the arc and lost to the 76ers in pre-season action.

After all the discussion and hearsay about what role 6-foot-10 forward Danilo Gallinari would be flushed into this season, it's pretty obvious he sucks more wangus than a former New Jersey governer. The 21-year-old Italy-bred Gallinari's threeball is on a missing poster on every NYC street corner.

After Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni heaped lavish praise on DG, calling him "the best shooter I've ever seen," Gallinari has shot the rock at a putrid 4-for-19 clip. D'Antoni now admits that the far-fetched verbal back massage put the 6-foot-10 bricklayer in a bit of tailspin.

He wasn't much better last night, clanking away open looks in a 1-for-6 shooting night. Him and Larry Hughes were a combined 1-for-14 from the field. Let's hope it's not a portent of what's to come when the season official kicks off.