With so much talent on the sideline, New Rochelle has long employed a number of platoons.
It’s a system that inspires envy.
This season, the Huguenots are keeping a pair of quarterbacks in play. Jonathan Saddler and Keion Jones-Hiland are both calling signals for the defending Class AA champions. It’s a unique situation. The results cannot be questioned, though, with the Huguenots sitting at 4-0 heading into Friday night’s showdown with unbeaten Clarkstown South.
“We play four linebackers, five defensive linemen, seven defensive backs, two tailbacks, four halfbacks, three split ends, two tight ends,” New Rochelle coach Lou DiRienzo said. “This is just another platoon in our scheme. Both of the kids have been very productive. The situation is getting more attention because they are quarterbacks, but it’s no different than what happens at linebacker here.”
There isn’t much of a difference between the junior classmates.
“First and foremost, Jonathan and Keion are both high-character kids,” DiRienzo said. “They are very intelligent. They both stand about 6 feet and weigh 200 pounds. They both have leadership qualities. They also have similar skill sets.”
And they both happen to play linebacker for a team that had outscored its opponents 142-19.
Saddler was the varsity backup last fall. Jones-Hiland was the junior varsity starter. They came into camp and proved they were both ready so they alternate series.
“The one who’s not playing is on the sideline signaling the play,” DiRienzo said.
Saddler had completed 15 of 31 passes for 354 yards and four touchdowns going into Week 5. He also had 14 carries for 71 yards. Jones-Hiland had completed 13 of 28 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 23 carries for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
“We are just blessed with two quarterbacks,” DiRienzo added. “They handle it very well. I’m sure at the beginning, sharing the position was difficult for them. Inside the locker room, they were fine. In today’s society, it’s hard to be a team player. Both of them are team kids and want to do whatever it takes to help New Rochelle win football games.”
Winning a close game is the next step.
North Rockland, Mount Vernon, Scarsdale and Mamaroneck were not able to stay close to the Huguenots for very long, so DiRienzo was anxious to see how Saddler and Jones-Hiland played with more on the line.
“We’re more concerned about our process,” he said. “In the crazy world of Section 1, this is a gigantic game between 4-0 teams. I’m looking forward to seeing how all of my kids respond to the challenge.”