The Arlington High School football team delivered on Friday in the Section 1 playoff qualifier, surging in the second half of its 43-21 victory over Roy C. Ketcham.
(Game show host voice) Tell ’em what they’ve won!
For their efforts, the Admirals are being rewarded an all-expense-paid trip to John Jay High School! The sprawling Wiccopee compound features a regulation football field with standard dimensions and a raucous crowd with which Arlington may already be familiar.
But wait, there’s more!
Included in that package is heavy underdog status in the Class AA quarterfinals versus a pretty good Patriots team to whom they’ve lost seven straight.
Oh. Not exactly the prize most had anticipated? Well, them’s the breaks. Thanks for playing the Section 1 seeding game!
As reported last week, there were several complaints about the seeds for the qualifying round and controversy surrounding the process and its mathematical formula. Was the multiplier altered without everyone’s knowledge? Was it simply disregarded? Was the formula faulty to begin with? Those were some of the questions tossed about.
Admirals coach Dominick DeMatteo was one of the most ardent supporters of the refined seeding system, but last week he was vocal in criticizing a perceived calculation error. He insisted his team should have been seeded no lower than sixth, given its No. 2 preseason seeding and a 3-3 regular season record against the league’s second-most challenging schedule. Instead, they were slotted eighth, which created that matchup with No. 9 Ketcham.
“The multiplier was definitely used and we had a mathematician, an accountant, handling the numbers to make sure it was right,” Section 1 football chairperson Chuck Scarpulla said. “No matter what, you’ll never please everybody. But now is not the time to complain.”
And it’s not. The teams that advanced to the playoffs have big games to prep for, so bellyaching isn’t a priority right now. But as the seeding concept is revisited and maybe revised this offseason, No. 7 Arlington vs. No. 2 John Jay in the quarterfinals will likely be an example pointed to, highlighting a flaw.
“They’re definitely better than that seed,” Patriots coach Tom O’Hare said of Arlington. “I think anyone who understands anything about football and this system knows Arlington should not be looked at as an eighth seed (entering the qualifier), regardless of that being the number given to them.”
A huge showdown of elite area rivals, in a rematch of last year’s historic all-Dutchess County final, and it has been relegated to a first-round matchup. The platform now takes a bit of luster off.
It will be said at some point that if Arlington hadn’t been seeded so low — and perhaps incorrectly — these teams could potentially have met in the semifinals instead. Or, with a couple upsets shaking the bracket, a championship rematch. And imagine if that championship happened at Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill?
Imagine the buzz, the crowd, that atmosphere, and the local revenue generated. Who knows what could have been?
John Jay High School will still be rollicking this weekend. It is still the playoffs; still Admirals-versus-Patriots. The fans will be hyped, and will no doubt be exchanging the usual “A-O-E!” chants and “You can’t beat us!” cheers. It will be lit, as the kids say.
Still, this matchup and that ambiance do seem too good for the first round. This is steak being served as an appetizer — in a cereal bowl.
Section 9 playoffs arrive
Friday marks the beginning of the playoffs for Section 9 classes AA and B, with three area teams making the cut in Class B.
Marlboro, as the undefeated top seed in Class B, receives a bye into the semifinals on Oct. 31 at Kingston’s Dietz Stadium. Spackenkill will host a first-round game as the third seed on Saturday against No. 6 Dover, and the winner will take on James I. O’Neill, the second seed. Top-seeded Marlboro will face the winner of Friday’s other first-round game between John S. Burke Catholic and Rondout Valley.
Classes A and C will be four-team playoffs beginning next week. Millbrook has locked up the second seed for Class C and will play an Oct. 31 semifinal at Middletown’s Faller Field. At 4-3, Poughkeepsie must beat visiting Goshen on Friday to qualify for the Class A playoffs.
Highland coach Carl Relyea missed the Huskies’ home game on Friday with an undisclosed illness. Assistant coach John McFarland said he wasn’t at liberty to discuss the particulars, but said Relyea is “gonna be OK.” Relyea’s wife, on Sunday, said his ailment isn’t believed to be serious. Relyea, in his 38th year coaching, had suffered a concussion on Sept. 19 after colliding with a player during a game. He returned to coach the Huskies’ next game. With the 62-0 loss to Marlboro on Friday, Highland fell to 1-6.
Top Week Seven Game
Poughkeepsie 36, New Paltz 35 — Poughkeepsie kept its playoff hopes alive and pulled above .500 with its game that featured two touchdowns in the final minute. New Paltz pulled ahead, 35-28, on a Anthony Nittolo run with 56 seconds remaining, but Shaquez Nesbitt returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. Trevon Reid then hit Jovan Atkinson on a fade route for the two-point conversion. It was the latest improbable victory for the Pioneers after starting 1-3 with a forfeit.
Week Seven Scoreboard
Section 1 Class AA qualifying round: John Jay 28, Suffern 12
Section 1 Class AA qualifying round: Arlington 43, Ketcham 21
Section 1 Class A qualifying round: Lourdes 35, Pearl River 14
Section 1 Class A qualifying round: Yorktown 41, Beacon 0
Top Week Eight Game
We’ve already focused enough on The Patriots and Admirals, so let’s go with…
Goshen at Poughkeepsie, Friday, 5:30 p.m. — One of the wildest single-seasons in recent memory could culminate in a playoff appearance for the Pioneers with a home win.
Week Eight Schedule
Note: This schedule will be updated with times, dates and non-playoff games early this week
Goshen at Poughkeepsie, 5:30 p.m.
Kingston at Roosevelt, 6 p.m.
Section 1 Class AA quarterfinals: Arlington at John Jay, 6:30 p.m.
Section 1 Class A quarterfinals: Somers at Lourdes, 7 p.m.
Highland at Ellenville, 7 p.m.
Millbrook at Fallsburg, 7 p.m.
Pine Plains/Rhinebeck at Red Hook, 1 p.m.
New Paltz at Monticello, 1:30 p.m.
Pawling at Tri-Valley, 1:30 p.m.
Sullivan West at Haldane, 1:30 p.m.
North Rockland at Ketcham, 1:30 p.m.
Section 9 Class B quarterfinals: Dover at Spackenkill, 2 p.m.
Three of the top football performances in Week Seven. Nominate performances by using #PJTop3 on Twitter.
Shaquez Nesbitt, Poughkeepsie: Before he returned a kickoff 99 yards to set up the game-winning two-point conversion against New Paltz, he ran for 200 yards and scored three touchdowns.
Jonathan Sakadelis, Marlboro: Really, the entire Iron Dukes defense deserves a spot, after blanking Highland in the annual “Black and Blue Bowl.” Sakadelis had 15 tackles.
Rob Tannenbaum, Arlington: In beating Roy C. Ketcham to “qualify” for the Section 1 playoffs, Tannenbaum scored five touchdowns and ran for 325 yards.
Football Huddle appears every Monday in the Poughkeepsie Journal, breaking down the weekly stories on the gridiron. Stephen Haynes: email@example.com, 845-437-4826, Twitter: @StephenHaynes4