Circle Oct. 19 on your calendars … if you haven’t done so already.
It’s OK. Athletes, coaches and fans look ahead and dream all the time. It’s a part of sports.
Wouldn’t it be fun if the John Jay and Roy C. Ketcham high school football teams were unbeaten when they meet in the regular-season finale in Wiccopee on Oct. 19?
It’s possible. There are three unbeaten Class AA schools in Section 1 and John Jay and Ketcham are two of them — creating excitement in the Wappingers Central School District.
“There is definitely a buzz in the building,” John Jay head coach Tom O’Hare said. “We couldn’t get more support from the school and community. There is such a strong sense of support. People are supportive of our football program and the guys are good ambassadors of our football program.”
The opening-week results started this buzz — Ketcham defeated defending state champ New Rochelle and John Jay beat perennial Section 1 power North Rockland in overtime on the road.
Since the opening week, the excitement continued to build — Ketcham cruised to two more wins and John Jay battled its way to a pair of wins, including last Saturday’s final-minute 9-7 triumph over Arlington.
“Everybody is excited. The win over New Rochelle got everyone’s attention,” Ketcham coach Pat Keevins said. “This is our homecoming and spirit week. There is a lot of buzz in our school. Athletes from all sports and teachers are following us.
“It’s exciting for the kids because they’ve put a lot of hard work into it and I think it’s a great thing for the program, school and community.”
As exciting as it is and as thrilling as the future can be, there are bigger prizes following the regular season and three league opponents to face before Oct. 19. Ketcham hosts White Plains, the third unbeaten Class AA team in Section 1, on Saturday before playing Suffern on the road and Mahopac at home. Suffern and Mahopac enter this weekend’s action at 1-2.
“With this group, it’s been pretty easy not to look ahead. We know with our tough schedule we have to take it one game at a time. Nobody is thinking about John Jay going into White Plains, which we expect to be a great high school football game,” Keevins said.
John Jay travels to play 2-1 Ramapo tonight and hosts Clarkstown South, currently 2-1, in eight days.
“We’re keeping our focus on the next game. I don’t want to hear anything about Ketcham, Mamaroneck or Clarkstown South,” said O’Hare. “Ketcham is having a great year and we’re pulling for them. But if you look ahead, you’re going to stumble against someone else.
“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. We’re trying not to get too far ahead of ourselves. We still have a lot we have to improve on before people start talking about playoffs. We’ve been on the verge of what we wanted to accomplish the last two years and haven’t been able to do it yet.”
John Jay has been on the verge of winning the Section 1 title in each of the last two seasons — losing the 2011 final in overtime to North Rockland and a 2012 sectional semifinal to New Rochelle.
This year, the excitement is reaching new levels because John Jay and Ketcham are both unbeaten with the non-league rivalry game between the schools set for Oct. 19. By the time the Indians and Patriots take the field in Wiccopee though, their playoff fates will be determined.
But it’s OK to look ahead — two unbeaten rivals, district bragging rights on the line. But we’re going to take this one step further, to the Section 1 final in Mahopac on Nov. 9. Wouldn’t it be great for Dutchess County football to see John Jay and Ketcham playing each other for the sectional title?
It’s OK to dream.