Perform athletic feats that turn heads? Check.
Create memorable moments in big games that draw lots of eyes? Check.
Slick, easy-to-remember nickname? Check.
The requisite ingredients are there. And what we’ve got is the conception of a star — if not quite the birth.
Ricardo Yolas danced up the middle, stutter-stepped then juked to create space. He saw an opening to the left and shot through it. At that point, it was just his speed versus that of the defenders, a couple of whom appeared to have a decent angle to cut him off. Yolas’ speed won.
And with that gallop, a scintillating 37-yard touchdown in the final minute of a scintillating game, the Arlington High School football team edged rival Roy C. Ketcham Friday night.
The final was 35-28. A one-score game, obviously. But to those in the Arlington stands who witnessed this back-and-forth classic, it sure felt closer than seven points.
And for those in Admirals uniforms, it sure felt a lot like the previous week. Then, too, Yolas shook free for the winning touchdown run. That time, it was in overtime against Carmel in the season-opener.
“I think I’ve had seven heart attacks on the sidelines and I’ve sweated off about 30 pounds,” first-year Arlington head coach Mike Morano said. “But it’s great. These close games create an electric atmosphere that you don’t get otherwise.”
Much of that electricity has been supplied by Yolas, Arlington’s new AC adapter.
He’s just two games into his varsity career, but with his smooth moves, charisma and a flair for the dramatic, he already has earned the nickname “Rico Suave” from teammates. (For those too young to catch the reference, YouTube the music video.)
The junior is still working on the first line of his Admiral athletic resume, but already the audience has chanted his name and the team has hailed him a hero.
“This feels great,” he said on Friday. “It’s one of the things I’ve been dreaming of since middle school, playing varsity running back at Arlington and being on this field in front of our crowd.”
As the tailback spoke, describing his second dramatic touchdown, a teammate in the background yelled, “It’s what he does! Just another day at the office!”
Once can be a fluke. Two times, the eyebrows raise and we wonder if it’s becoming a trend.
It was actually the same play on both winning runs. The call was “21 Power,” quarterback Austin Heck said. Both times, Yolas started to the left, cut outside and spotted a hole before taking off for daylight. Against Carmel, he was 12 yards from victory. Against Ketcham, on a night it seemed Indians receiver Zaahir Woody had staked his flag in that field, it required a little more from Yolas.
“The one in overtime was even better than this, to me, because that was my first varsity game,” he said. “To get two touchdowns and the game-winner, that was special.”
Understandably so. But if this keeps up, by season’s end, he will have a much harder time choosing his favorite moment.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with what he’s done,” Morano said. “We knew coming through the system that he would be a player. He’s got ability and when the lights are bright, he doesn’t fade.”
Credit, too, must go to the Admirals offensive line, which includes left guard Anthony Gallo and center Jake Cirrito. As well, Heck threw two touchdowns and ran for another, and Jacob Pfeifer hauled in a 44-yard touchdown on a deep corner route and got an interception.
And let’s be clear: Two games is certainly too small a sample size to warrant anointment or make definitive declarations. But, it’s a big enough showing for one to demonstrate talent. Barring injury or the unforeseen, Yolas has already shown the ability to become a standout.
Perhaps even more indicative of that than his last touchdown scamper Friday was his 54-yard burst in the second quarter. On a counter, Yolas read the blocks well, jab-stepped outside as right tackle Jordan Valerius sealed the edge. He high-stepped out of an ankle tackle and made another defender miss before darting up the sideline.
While he isn’t a bruising back, Yolas does possess good speed, excellent quickness and change of direction, and vision and instincts in the hole. Of course, there are areas that require improvement, and without question, he will face tougher defensive schemes since catching the attention of coaches.
But every established star went through a similar process.
“He’s killing the game right now,” Heck said. “He’s gonna have a huge year, and an even a bigger year next season.”
Top Week Two Game
Arlington 35, Ketcham 28 — For obvious reasons, if you read above. Yolas’ 37-yard touchdown run with 1:03 left was the difference in a back-and-forth game that already looked like a classic. Austin Heck also threw two touchdowns and ran for score to lead Arlington.
Week Two Scoreboard
Top Week Three Matchup
John Jay at Arlington, Friday at 6 p.m. — The rivals enter at 2-0 in a rematch of last season’s Section 1 Class AA quarterfinal and the 2014 sectional final, both of which John Jay won. Both feature young rosters now, but each has shown gumption in the early going.
Week Three Schedule
John Jay at Arlington, 6 p.m.
Cornwall at Poughkeepsie, 7 p.m.
Beacon at Harrison, 7 p.m.
Rye at Our Lady of Lourdes, 7 p.m.
O’Neill at Pine Plains, 7 p.m.
Rondout Valley vs. Red Hook at Dietz Memorial Stadium in Kingston, 7 p.m.
Burke at Marlboro, 7 p.m.
New Paltz at Millbrook, 7 p.m.
Valley Central at Roosevelt, 7 p.m.
Rye at Lourdes, 7 p.m.
Monticello at Highland, 7 p.m.
Bronxville at Haldane, 1 p.m.
Port Chester at Ketcham, 1:30 p.m.
Spackenkill at Dover, 1:30 p.m.
Three of the top football performances in Week Two. Nominate performances by using #PJTop3 on Twitter.
Zaahir Woody, Ketcham: The receiver had seven receptions for 144 yards and four touchdowns in the Indians’ loss to Arlington. Woody made a number of spectacular matches in traffic, showing his strength, agility and breakaway speed.
MoQuez Dickens, Poughkeepsie: The running back had over 300 all-purpose yards and scored four touchdowns, leading the Pioneers in a 40-20 win over Monticello. He had two rushing touchdowns, a receiving touchdown, and returned the opening kickoff 84 yards for a score.
John Perugino, Marlboro: The tailback had 293 yards receiving and scored five touchdowns in the Iron Dukes’ 63-43 loss to James I. O’Neill.
Football Huddle appears every Monday in the Poughkeepsie Journal, breaking down the weekly stories on the gridiron. Stephen Haynes: firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-437-4826, Twitter: @StephenHaynes4
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