Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Upstart Huskers Prepare For Gritty Greeley

Yorktown was angry.

They were angry at an uncharacteristic stockpile of penalties.

They were incensed about a few erratic stretches, mistakes which cannot linger for any team found in Section 1's upper stratum.

They channeled this anger without a trace of trepidation. The 4-0 Huskers again attacked with a balanced and ferocious running game, delivering a thorough 44-22 drubbing at Brewster Saturday.

Fitting, because undefeated Yorktown is suddenly running roughshod over the local competition.

This blazing start, from a previously unsung and unheralded squad, has defied expectations across the region.

"We all have our roles," said Huskers head coach Mike Rescigno, who helped lift Yorktown from obscurity with a Week II resume win over reigning champ Somers.

 "I'm thrilled. There's pieces of the puzzle we didn't know. Coming into this year, that was a really big deal. There were a lot of kids stepping up that haven't seen any playing time at the varsity level."

This youth movement has devoured Yorktown's family identity, vowing to play for each other and put individual desires and personal totals out of reach. Surrendering "me" and empowering the team-over-everything ideologies has been paramount to the early start.

 On Saturday, the Huskers were balanced by a blend of shiftiness, agility, and explosive power from junior halfback Nicky Santavicca, who ran for 181 yards. The bulldozing of senior fullback Timmy Forbes, who scored a pair of touchdowns, was a stabilizing factor.

Santavicca, who played sparingly last season while subsequently dealing with his fair share of nagging injuries, hasn't dipped under 155 yards since the season-opening 33-6 slaying of Eastchester.

He gashed Pearl River for 161 yards in a 34-7 laugher, which saw the Huskers seize a commanding 34-0 halftime bulge.

Evasive quarterback Ryan Baker displayed wheel-power during that Pearl River bludgeoning, rolling up 160 yards.

 As pivotal as their production rate has been, the Offensive line deserves a considerable cut of the credit.

The Huskers have now outscored foes by a commanding 131-42 margin. Yorktown's performance in these four games has rendered them the most notable early surprise on this side of rejuvenated and undefeated Ardsley.

Nobody is content or singing each other's praises just yet. Plenty of work remains. The Huskers must clean up the deficiencies, which sullied the first half against Brewster.

 They know, with a meager three practice days of preparation, they can't afford gaffes against a formidable opponent of Greeley's caliber.

"Coming out with the 'W' is always good but we made stupid mistakes the whole game," Baker said. "We've got to clean those up."

In Rescigno, his quarterback's words resonated.

"The penalties I can't stand, I'll be honest with you," he said.

"You're telling me we're a good team, well that's not what good teams do. We have to shore that stuff up. The flags have to go away. You get that amount of flags against a viable opponent, that we're going to be seeing coming up pretty soon, we might not come out on top."

That's the culture of Yorktown football under this regime. Accountability is ubiquitous. You'll be hard-pressed to discover any sugarcoating.

Brewster was able to piece together scoring plays after the game was already spoken for, as Kyle Catano fired in a deep TD fade.

 Beyond Brewster's late second half spree, no opponent has eclipsed seven points on the Huskers' defense.

Opponents not named Somers and not coached by the iconic Tony DeMatteo have yet to give Yorktown a full four quarter game.

Be sure not expect much of the same. The Huskers are now marked men. Everyone will be eyeballing an upset, beginning with the school 12 miles south of the Taconic.

Horace Greeley features one of the area's top-flight quarterbacks in Cameron Ciero. During an All-Section junior season, Ciero rushed for 529 yards and eight touchdowns.

He passed for 965 yards, firing in 10 touchdown passes. Extracting more and more comparisons to his older brother Justin (who starred at Division-III Colby and is now at Division-I Fordham), Ciero had a hand in every touchdown during a 35-16 Week II win over Mount Vernon.

 He aired it out for 170 yards and a TD while shredding the Knights for 135 yards and four TDs, accounting for all five of the Quakers scores. He whizzed the rock around for 155 yards on a 7-for-12 clip in a 42-7 drubbing of lowly Port Chester.

The Huskers are up against a familiar face in Quakers head coach Tim Sullivan.

Sullivan, who served as an assistant under Bill Tribou before inheriting the keys to the kingdom, works as a guidance counselor at Yorktown High. He has the Huskers transcripts, but does he have their talent?

An infusion of new faces were propelled into immediate starting roles, raising a bevy of question marks.

Having lost a significant portion of senior starters, headlined by a durable and explosive All-Section back in Eric Meyreles, the skeptics and concerns hovered over the program.

Rescigno himself wasn't entirely sure he would be able to replicate the success of the past two seasons. There was a general perception that growing pains, speed bumps, and the team's callowness would engender early woes.

"Our secondary, I wasn't sure about (heading into the season)," Rescigno said.

"Now these kids are playing lights out. We've got a sophomore on the secondary in Dom Cioffi who is an amazing addition. And that's why there were questions marks, I had no idea what a sophomore could do."

Everyone knows what Ciero and Greeley's fleet of receivers can do.

"We know Thursday is going to be a war," Baker said.

"They're just another team in our way to accomplish what we want to do. If our defense comes fired up and plays like they've been playing, we'll be just fine. If we don't come to hit first, it's going to be a long day."