Eastchester football coach Fred DiCarlo has no illusions about what his team is getting itself into on Friday night.
The Eagles host the powerful Rye Garnets at 7 p.m., the top-ranked team in Class A in the lohud football rankings which has shown very few weaknesses through the first three weeks of the season.
“I know we’re going to be really tested this week with Rye,” DiCarlo said. “I don’t know how we’re going to stop them, but we’re going to try. They have so much firepower. They can throw, they can run, they have a solid line and they’re very versatile. We have to be fundamentally sound, but to be honest, we have to hope for them to make a few mistakes.”
The notion that Eastchester would even be competitive in a game like this seemed far-fetched just a few weeks ago. Not only was DiCarlo’s defense decimated by graduation, but his top returning player, All-State lineman Antonio Rogliano, made the surprising decision to transfer to Brunswick.
“When he transferred out, it was so late in the summer that we were kind of taken by surprise,” DiCarlo said. “After a while, you realize that you have to move on. It’s not something that we can control. There was a little bit of a getting over it period, but to their credit, I haven’t heard anybody say, ‘What if we would have had him?’ ”
Even without Rogliano, the Eagles are off to a 2-1 start and have allowed only 40 total points on defense. DiCarlo identified senior linebackers Ryan Blume and Matt Roche as two of the standouts who “have been solid in the middle for us,” but he’s expecting them to face their biggest test against the 3-0 Garnets.
“They’re very good sideline-to-sideline,” he said. “The question is, how good are they going to be when they come right at us?”
Rye is the clear favorite, having routed the same Lourdes team last week, 42-18, that beat Eastchester earlier this season. But so far, DiCarlo has been pleased with the way his team has responded to new challenges.
“The guys buy into the philosophy of playing team defense,” he said. “We play the same defense throughout our program. They’re coming in without much varsity experience, but at least they know what we’re trying to do.”