The Schalmont football team rallied again, but this comeback was even more impressive than the last, coming on a bigger stage against a rugged foe, and with a grand prize at stake.
Jaren Ramundo and Alberto Beltran scored touchdowns as Schalmont tied the score and then went ahead in Saturday’s state Class B semifinal game against Croton-Harmon, then its defense stiffened in a 28-14 victory at Dietz Memorial Stadium.
“It’s kind of like we need something to happen before we start playing well,” Schalmont coach Joe Whipple said after his team battled back from a 14-7 deficit. “They stare adversity in the face and respond.”
Joe Paskevich and Devon Willis scored Schalmont’s first and last touchdowns, Nate Caraballo intercepted a pass to end a Croton-Harmon threat in the closing seconds of the opening half and Beltran picked off another pass inside the final minute to wrap up the redeeming win.
Schalmont (12-0) had lost on the same turf field a year ago to Nyack, 28-7, in a semifinal that was one-sided from the start.
“We had that bad taste in our mouth,” said senior guard/linebacker JJ Murphy, who was selected Schalmont’s most valuable defensive player of the game. “We didn’t want to let that happen again. No way were we going to let that happen again.”
“As soon as I got here, it brought back memories of Nanuet,” said Ramundo, a senior running back and defensive tackle who piled up 191 rushing yards on 12 carries, and was tabbed Schalmont offensive MVP. “We wanted to prove we could do it.”
Croton-Harmon (Section I, 10-1) fullback Kevin Soares banged in touchdowns in the first and second quarters to cap long drives and help the Tigers grab their advantage before Schalmont’s comeback.
Schalmont also surged from behind after giving up an early touchdown in the quarterfinals, in a 38-7 triumph over Ogdensburg Free Academy.
“When they [Croton-Harmon] scored, it was like last week. That just set us off,” said Murphy. “Everybody did their job. Everybody knew how to respond.”
With its two-way answer, Schalmont — which had never won a playoff game before last season — earned a spot in the state final one week from today at 6 p.m. at the Carrier Dame in Syracuse. Defending state champion Hornell (Section V, 12-0) will supply the competition after beating Chenango Valley in its semifinal, 45-12.
“Hornell is the defending champion, and they’re not going to be in awe of the Dome, but I like my guys, and we’re going to give them everything we’ve got,” said Whipple, whose team entered the semifinal round with a No. 3 state ranking; Hornell is No. 1. “We’re going to give them a game.”
Before the Schalmont game, Bronxville roughed up Saranac Lake in a Class C semifinal contest, 49-14, on the Dietz turf.
“Our guys saw what happened to Saranac Lake, and it reminded them of what it felt like to lose this game,” said Whipple. “Our guys just did what they’ve been doing. It’s that will to win. That extra block. That extra yard. They did whatever it took.”
Ramundo broke off a 31-yard run just before his 17-yard touchdown scamper in the second quarter, and one of four extra points by Murphy tied the game at 14. Beltran’s six-yard touchdown run finished off Schalmont’s initial drive of the third quarter, that score set up on Ramundo’s eight-yard dash on a fourth-and-four from the 14.
Willis extended Schalmont’s lead when the freshman bolted 39 yards up the middle later in the third quarter. Willis totaled 48 rushing yards, while Beltran gained 61 and Nick Reali added 42.
“We knew they were good, but everybody stepped up and ran hard, and we punched a few in,” said Ramundo.
Ramundo had a 45-yard run to set up Paskevich’s one-yard quarterback sneak for Schalmont’s first touchdown.
Soares scored on runs of two and six yards to complete time-consuming Croton-Harmon drives that covered 60 yards on 14 plays and 67 yards on 13 plays.
“We had a lot of missed tackles in the first half,” said Ramundo. “Coach said its not all about the big hit, you have to wrap up. We put a few more guys in the box and tackled better.”
Soares, Jesse Mainiero and Matt Tralli led Croton-Harmon, the state’s No. 2-ranked team, with 84, 69 and 63 rushing yards, respectively.
Croton-Harmon 7 7 0 0 — 14
Schalmont 7 7 14 0 — 28
S — Paskevich 1 run (Murphy kick).
CH — Soares 2 run (Arturo kick).
CH — Soares 6 run (Arturo kick).
S — Ramundo 17 run (Murphy kick).
S — Beltran 6 run (Murphy kick).
S — Willis 39 run (Murphy kick).
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Categories: High School Sports