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New Rochelle Eyes Playoffs After Fifth Straight Shutout

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New Rochelle Eyes Playoffs After Fifth Straight Shutout

October 15, 2017 - 10:51

First day of high school football practice at New Rochelle High School Aug. 14, 2017, which is the defending Section 1 Class AA champions. (Photo: Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal New)

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NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Saturday wasn't the first time Jonathan Saddler had heard the message and Monday won't be the first time he heeds it. Still, when New Rochelle coach Lou DiRienzo spoke in the postgame huddle, his words were met with clear eyes and nodding heads.

The regular season was nice, but, to the Huguenots, the games yet to be played are what really counts.

"He's been saying that for 25 years," senior Jonathan Saddler said. "This is my third year hearing it over again and it's true. It's a four-game tournament. And after we complete this goal, then we're going to go on to the three-game tournament."

First, it's the four-round Section 1 playoffs that await New Rochelle after another throttling on Saturday. This time, the Huguenots blanked unbeaten Scarsdale 35-0 to post their fifth straight shutout and complete the regular season 6-0.

New Rochelle captured its league title after holding Scarsdale to just 73 yards in a rematch of last year's Class AA final. 

"We still have to get better — a lot better," said senior Aidan Lilly, a linebacker who plays at the center of the defense. "There's more we can prove out here on the field, but as long as we keep improving we'll be OK."

New Rochelle made strides during an explosive third quarter that resulted in three touchdowns in a little over six minutes.

The Huguenots had been slowed in the first half by Scarsdale's ball-control offense, which held possession for over 10 minutes in the first quarter alone. That changed in the third quarter thanks to a pair of turnovers. New Rochelle struck quickly and often to take complete control.

As the Huguenots built their 35-0 lead, their defense limited the Raiders to -20 yards of offense in the quarter and just two yards in the second half.

Saddler, a quarterback and linebacker, finished a stress-free 4 of 4 for 161 yards and a touchdown, but junior Omari Walker did the most damage. He touched the ball just four times and still gained 176 yards combined rushing and receiving .

On a team loaded with returning skill talent, Walker has continued to establish himself as a threat.

"They always told me it's your time to shine when you get the ball," said Walker, who scored on a 45-yard touchdown run. "They said they're going to block for me and I can do what I have to do. I'll do the same for them."

CLASS AA PLAYOFFS: Arlington ranked No. 1, New Rochelle No. 2 in Section 1 qualifying round

The top 16 Class AA schools will compete next weekend in the qualifying round. New Rochelle was ranked No. 2 and will host No. 15 Ketcham. No. 6 Scarsdale will host No. 11 Suffern. Both games will be played at a time to be determined.

By the numbers

New Rochelle (6-0) — Saddler's touchdown pass covered 60 yards to Myles Taylor. Saddler, Jared Baron and Romeo Holden all rushed for touchdowns. ... Saddler had a sack and recovered a fumble and Storm Jones had an interception. Both turnovers led to New Rochelle touchdowns during the third-quarter surge.

Scarsdale (5-1) — Jacob Brief went 4 for 10 for 48 yards but did not play in the second half. ... The Raiders held the ball for all but 1:56 of the first quarter.