So it begins again, the preparation for the regional tournament.
And the Iron Dukes couldn’t be happier to head to practice today.
For the third straight season, the Marlboro High School football team has advanced to the Class B regional final, and the Dukes (10-0) said they are ready to face Section 1 champion Pleasantville at noon Saturday at Mahopac.
“We’re just going to have to bring all we have next week,” said senior running back Marsallis Faircloth after running for the Dukes’ final three touchdowns in Saturday’s 41-7 Section 9 Class B title game win over Rondout Valley at Dietz Memorial Stadium.
Down 7-0 early to the Ganders, the Dukes scored six straight touchdowns — they ran for three in each half — with senior quarterback Ryan Cary running for the first three to put Marlboro ahead 21-7 at halftime.
Last season, Marlboro similarly won the Section 9 championship and went on to beat Section 1’s Our Lady of Lourdes in the regional finals before falling the following week.
Cary said that experience from last season — namely, having reached this level in 2012 and having won the regional title — will benefit the Dukes on Saturday.
“It’s great to have a little bit of experience behind us,” Marlboro’s signal-caller said. “We have a bunch of kids back from last year when we played Lourdes. You’ve got to know when you’re in a dogfight like that, you’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game. It’s not going to be easy, so you just have to play your hardest the whole game.”
Head coach Rich Ward said last year’s experience is “a huge asset” for his Dukes, and he’s thrilled with the team he’ll take to Putnam County on Saturday.
“Any time you gain experience, I think experience is second to none,” Ward said. “They know what to expect now. They know how good it’s going to be, how tough it’s going to be. You’re going to have to play 48-plus minutes and fight their tails off and see if they can pull off a win.”
That’s what Faircloth expects.
He said Pleasantville will be just as anxious to advance to the state semifinals with a win Saturday, and he added Marlboro will be ready to repeat as regional champs.
“It’s their playoff game just as much as it is ours,” Faircloth said. “They know they can go home (with a loss). We know we can go home. We’re both going to leave everything we have (on the field) and hopefully come out with a victory.”