MAMARONECK – When this year’s Section 1 football schedules were released, Mamaroneck head coach Anthony Vitti and Scarsdale head coach Andy Verboys had two very different reactions.
Vitti: “I don’t know if we looked at one particular game and circled it.”
Verboys: “There’s two games circled — this one, and White Plains.”
Prior to Friday night’s game at Mamaroneck, the Tigers and Raiders have not met on the gridiron in a scheduled game since 2011. They played each other in a Class AA quarterfinal two years ago, but there was no way to predict they would rendezvous in the postseason.
The regular-season hiatus has been in spite the fact that the schools are a mere five and a half miles apart from one another and share a storied rivalry.
Or, at least they used to.
Teams used to be sorted by a power ranking system, putting teams of perceived equal talent in the same leagues. This meant teams could be spending more than an hour on the bus for away games. Under the new alignments, teams are sorted geographically.
Vitti, a former Mamaroneck football player, still remembers his two contests against Scarsdale during his playing days — a 10-7 loss his junior year, and a 28-0 drubbing of the Raiders his senior year. Vitti said the game is equally beneficial for fans as it is the players and teams.
“Name me a team that wants to travel that far to play and get off the bus and get right on and play — it’s not easy, especially with our kids that go through long days of school,” Vitti said. “Honestly, this is what people want to see.”
Verboys went as far as to say that Friday night rivalry games will “save” high school football.
“There’s no other sport that has a preparation of the amount of hours that we put in for one day, and then to show up to have that one day of showtime and to have a couple of people and a bunch of crickets, it’s demoralizing for the kids,” Verboys said. “You go down south, and on Friday night they close the town down.”
Scarsdale holds a golf outing every summer, where players young and old can reminisce about their time in a Raiders uniform. Verboys said he’s noticed a trend at the annual event.
“They don’t talk about the records, they don’t talk about how far they made it in the playoffs,” Verboys said. “They talk about the Mamaroneck and White Plains games.”