After seven weeks of scrapping and battling on the gridiron, Section 9 Class B crowned league champions and awarded playoff bye weeks, but hasn’t yielded a clear favorite to reach the state playoffs.
As sectionals begin on Friday, five of the six participants have, at some point this season, created a cogent argument for its spot atop the heap, only for that to change the following week.
Maybe it was Spackenkill, after the Spartans downed favorite-for-a-moment James I. O’Neill in a thriller three weeks ago. Then, the following week, O’Neill beat previously undefeated Liberty.
Perhaps it was New Paltz, after the Huguenots throttled five-time defending champion Marlboro on Oct. 7.
Then again, maybe it’s Marlboro that looks most formidable now, having shown its might in a 59-3 win over Highland on Friday.
The seeds are set, but they don’t seem to mean a whole lot.
O’Neill and New Paltz, the No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, receive a bye in the first round. Third-seeded Liberty hosts No. 6 Red Hook on Friday, and No. 5 Spackenkill visits fourth-seeded Marlboro on Friday.
“It’s a little disappointing,” Spartans coach Clinton DeSouza said of his team’s Saturday loss to Liberty, dropping them from a potential No. 1 to the fifth spot. “But once you’re in the playoffs, the seed doesn’t matter. We have the confidence to know we can compete.”
Really, each of them does. It appears Red Hook has the toughest draw, but the Raiders seldom face Liberty, so neither team is too familiar with the other. Prep work must be done quickly, which leaves open the possibility of an augmented scheme, even subtle, catching the opponent by surprise. That, Raiders coach Bill Stutz said, “levels the playing field a little.”
Over in Section 9 Class A, Poughkeepsie (2-5) can make the postseason, despite its struggles, with a win over Goshen on Friday. The Section 9 Class A playoffs begin Oct. 28. The Pioneers lost to Goshen last year in the regular-season finale, just missing a playoff berth.
Top Week Seven game
Franklin D. Roosevelt 22, Middletown 21 — Justin Guerrero’s 1-yard touchdown run pulled Roosevelt within a point with 1:30 left and the Presidents passed on the potential tying extra-point kick, opting for the two-point conversion. Jake Niesen, on an outside run, got into the end zone for the winning two points. Roosevelt had rallied from down 21-7 in the fourth quarter.
Week Seven scoreboard
Haldane 28, Roscoe 14
Top Week Eight matchup
Spackenkill at Marlboro, 7 p.m. Friday — Both of these quarterfinalists enter with 5-2 records. The rivals met in the season opener, with Marlboro surging from behind in the second half to win 46-28. That victory made the difference in seeding. Marlboro is the five-time defending section champion, but it has shown some vulnerability. Both teams enter averaging 42 points per game. Spackenkill is allowing 24 points and Marlboro 23.1. That’s as evenly-matched as it gets.
Week Eight schedule
Section 1 Class AA quarterfinals: North Rockland at Arlington, 6 p.m.
Section 1 Class AA quarterfinals: Scarsdale at John Jay, 7 p.m.
Section 1 Class A quarterfinals: Lourdes at Somers, 7 p.m.
Section 9 Class B quarterfinals: Spackenkill at Marlboro, 7 p.m.
Goshen at Poughkeepsie, 7 p.m.
Kingston at Roosevelt, 7 p.m.
Tri-Valley at Millbrook, 7 p.m.
Highland at Pine Plains, 7 p.m.
Section 9 Class B quarterfinals: Red Hook at Liberty, 1:30 p.m.
Pawling at Roscoe, 1:30 p.m.
Rondout Valley at Dover, 1:30 p.m.
Other Section 1 non-playoff games to be determined.
Three of the top football performances in Week Seven. Nominate performances by using #PJTop3 on Twitter.
Billy Williamson, Marlboro: The junior rushed for 239 yards and a career-high six touchdowns in a 59-3 win over Highland.
Jimmy Verney, New Paltz: The quarterback threw for 154 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 170 yards in a 60-22 win over Red Hook.
Austin Heck, Arlington: Before suffering a season-ending injury, Heck ran for 103 yards and a score, and tossed a 36-yard touchdown in less than two quarters of a 35-6 win over Mount Vernon.
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