NEW ROCHELLE – With “Man of Steel” as his Twitter handle, one would assume New Rochelle’s Gregory Powell would dress up as Superman for Halloween. However, the senior quarterback has other plans.
“Tonight I’m dressing up like a sailor,” he said.
Maybe Powell chose a different costume because he already did his best Superman impersonation in top-seeded New Rochelle’s 33-7 win over fourth-seeded Scarsdale on Saturday in the Class AA semifinals. Powell accounted for 210 yards of total offense, rushing for 118 with two touchdowns and throwing for 92, to lead the Huguenots (9-0).
“He was definitely the catalyst on offense today and I’m really happy for him,” New Rochelle coach Lou DiRienzo said of Powell.
Powell was especially effective running the read-option, as he forced the Raiders (6-3) to bite on the fake handoff and would weave his way through their defense for big gains.
“They were really going after the jet sweep today, and it just made the lanes wide open so I just took advantage,” said Powell.
Powell’s touchdowns came on seven- and 33-yard runs, respectively, in the first half. Once Scarsdale’s defense started keying on him, the rest of the Huguenots were able to get in on the action. Romeo Holden, who also had an interception, reached the end zone on a 3-yard run to give New Rochelle a 20-7 lead at the half. Keelan Thomas scampered for a 16-yard score on a jet sweep. Jared Baron capped the scoring with 1:59 left in the third quarter on a 19-yard touchdown up the middle.
“Credit goes to the offensive line, because without them we can’t do anything,” said Baron.
In all, the Huguenots totaled 307 yards on the ground with seven different ball-carriers.
“We were trying to go where they weren’t, more or less,” said DiRienzo. “If they went left, we would go right. Right now, the run game has been pretty strong and we’ve got six or seven people who share in the run game, and the quarterback does a nice job with the read.”
For Scarsdale, Michael Rolfe ran for 119 yards and a touchdown and Stephen Nicholas ran for 75 yards. The Raiders had a hard time getting their triple-option offense going as the Huguenot defense remained sound in containing the gaps.
“We moved the ball at times, but in the first half we made too many mistakes and with the kind of pressure they put on you, they force you into those mistakes,” said Scarsdale coach Andy Verboys.
New Rochelle will face second-seeded John Jay-East Fishkill in the final on Nov. 7 at Dutchess Stadium, its first appearance in the title game since 2012.
“It’s emotional,” DiRienzo said. “I told my kids we haven’t played in November in two years and I told them last night, ‘The best thing I can tell you is, I’ll see you in practice on Monday.’ I’m pretty happy to be coming to work tomorrow.”
The Huguenots defeated the Patriots 18-16 in the season-opener on a late 51-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass from Powell. The players know how hard it is to beat a team twice in one season but they feel good with Powell the Sailor leading their ship as they continue their quest to a Class AA title.
“We have to grind, John Jay is a good football team,” said Powell. “We beat them with a minute left so it’s gonna be a 48-minute affair, it’s gonna be a dog-fight.”