Harrison tries to rebound against a formidable foe: Rye

Harrison tries to rebound against a formidable foe: Rye


Harrison tries to rebound against a formidable foe: Rye


Harrison coach Dom Zanot talks to his players during a 34-6 defeat at Rye High School in the Class A playoffs on Oct. 17, 2015.

Harrison coach Dom Zanot talks to his players during a 34-6 defeat at Rye High School in the Class A playoffs on Oct. 17, 2015.

With a victory this Saturday, Rye can draw even in its all-time series with Harrison for the first time since 1974. The teams had actually traded leads throughout the four previous decades of their historic rivalry, but never since.

Harrison entered this week trying to both reverse a dubious trend and regroup off a season-opening loss at Eastchester. Rye, The Journal News’ No. 1-ranked team in Class A, will provide both a familiar and formidable obstacle: The Garnets have won 13 of their last 14 against the Huskies, including two games in the span of a week just last year.

“Our kids – our backs are against the wall, so we have no other option except to move forward and fight our way out of this,” said Harrison coach Dom Zanot, whose team leads the all-time series 42-41-3. “The kids are dialed in mentally and physically and we’ve had a very good week of practice. We just have to put our best foot forward on Saturday. We’re not looking for a moral victory. We’re doing everything we can to win the game.”

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For the Huskies, that process might start at the line of scrimmage. Rye has returned a collection of skill players who starred for last year’s Class A runner-up, including quarterback T.J. Lavelle and two-way stars Mat Bruno, Brett Egan and Jamie Chabot. But the Garnets broke in four new starters on their offensive line during last week’s 42-7 win at Beacon, while Harrison welcomed back returning linemen Robert Donohue, Sonny LoFranco, Harrison Witte and Zef Djurasevic.

“I’m not downplaying this game because I think their coach has worked hard and I know they have their whole offensive and defensive line coming back,” Rye coach Dino Garr said. “That’s their strength. Our weakness is that we have some people learning to play at that position. … We have to worry about them being more physical at the line of scrimmage than us.”

To that end, Harrison outgained Eastchester 330-215 last week despite playing two new quarterbacks, Michael Cherico and Frank Nannariello, but lost 22-20. The players said that result hasn’t dampened their excitement for this week, not with so much pride at stake.

LoFranco, a senior tackle, said the Huskies believe they can beat Rye despite knowing few expect that of them.

“I’m sure we’re viewed as the underdog in this situation, but we can’t act like or think we’re underdogs,” LoFranco said. “We have to think we’re right on the same level with these guys. You can’t beat somebody if you don’t think that, so we just have to come out and play as hard as we can. And we have to finish.”

Harrison actually started strong in last year’s regular-season finale before Rye’s defense pitched a shutout in the second half of a 28-14 victory. The Garnets were much more dominant the following week, rolling to a 34-0 halftime edge and winning 34-6 in the Class A qualifying round.

With so many players returning on both sides, little appears to have changed between the rivals. Harrison hopes to prove that false.

“We all want to get those games back and want to prove we’re a good team,” LoFranco said. “Last year in that second game (vs. Rye), we didn’t prove we are a good team, so we want to come back and right our wrongs — prove that we’re stronger and faster now.”



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