For years, the conversation in Section 1 Class AA football essentially began and ended with New Rochelle and North Rockland, which combined to win every championship from 1999-2012. White Plains finally ended that streak in 2013 when it topped North Rockland in the final, but those breakthrough opportunities are few and far between.
Even with the Red Raiders slumping (by their standards) the last two years, John Jay-East Fishkill has not just filled the void but made its own case to be included among the best. Friday night will mark the third semifinal game hosted by the Patriots in the last four years.
White Plains won big at John Jay during its run to the 2013 title. It fielded a deep, senior-laden team with terrific chemistry. Those are all attributes of programs that have emerged to threaten Class AA’s best over the years, and Clarkstown North will be the latest team to test that formula.
The Rams, now 7-1, posted their fourth shutout of the season in the quarterfinals and will now travel to John Jay Friday night in the semifinals. With 23 seniors on the roster, Clarkstown North will be the latest upstart challenger hoping a veteran group can lead the program to a surprise berth in the sectional final.
Right now, the Rams are firmly entrenched at No. 4 in our latest high school football power rankings.
Week 9 lohud football rankings
Top 10 overall
1. Stepinac (7-0) – The Crusaders have clinched the regular season league title and the No. 1 seed in the CHSFL AAA playoffs for the second straight year.
2. New Rochelle (8-0) – Mamaroneck was again a handful for the Huguenots, but don’t let that result fool you. This is still the favorite in Class AA.
3. John Jay-East Fishkiil (7-1) – This is the third time in four years the Patriots have hosted a Class AA semifinal. As much as last year’s Section 1 title said about the quality of that particular team, John Jay’s regular appearances in the semis are a testament to the program’s consistency.
4. Clarkstown North (7-1) – The Rams will be on the road Friday night in Dutchess County and probably won’t survive the type of first half they played against Clarkstown South in the quarterfinals.
5. Rye (8-0) – Rye has had three leading rushers the last three weeks, but it’s the Garnets’ passing game that has burnt Yorktown in recent meetings.
6. Scarsdale (6-2) – What resolve the Raiders showed in last week’s win against Mahopac. This isn’t a typical New Rochelle run defense, but that cuts both ways. For the success Scarsdale may have on the ground, its pass defense will be tested by Greg Powell and his receivers.
7. Eastchester (8-0) – This is probably the best semifinal matchup. Two of Section 1’s best quarterbacks will go head-to-head in John Arcidiacono and Lourdes’ Dean Rotger. If this is a defensive struggle, it will be shocking.
8. Mahopac (4-4) – This team probably didn’t have the season it hoped. Still, playing rival Carmel in the finale is a nice consolation prize after a first-round playoff exit.
9. Arlington (4-4) – It’s never great when a program ends up .500, but if those losses come against New Rochelle, John Jay (twice) and Mahopac, it’s a little more understandable.
10. Yorktown (6-2) – Yorktown and Lourdes were very close for the last spot, but Yorktown gets the nod by virtue of its head-to-head win back in Week 1.
On the bubble: Lourdes (6-2), Clarkstown South (6-2).
Class AA – 1. New Rochelle, 2. John Jay-East Fishkill, 3. Clarkstown North, 4. Scarsdale, 5. Mahopac, 6. Arlington, 7. Clarkstown South, 8. Mamaroneck, 9. Carmel, 10. Ketcham.
Class A – 1. Rye, 2. Eastchester, 3. Lourdes, 4. Yorktown, 5. Brewster, 6. Somers, 7. John Jay, 8. Pearl River, 9. Harrison, 10. Hen Hud.
Class B – 1. Nanuet, 2. Westlake, 3. Putnam Valley, 4. Albertus Magnus, 5. Ardsley.
Class C/D – 1. Dobbs Ferry, 2. Woodlands, 3. Rye Neck, 4. Tuckahoe, 5. Haldane.
Catholic/Private – 1. Stepinac, 2. Iona Prep, 3. Rye Country Day, 4. Hackley, 5. Harvey.