After months of speculation about the program’s postseason prospects, the New Rochelle Huguenots wasted little time on Saturday establishing why they are widely considered to be the team to beat in Class AA this year.
Against Mamaroneck on Sept. 2, the Huguenots scored on their very first offensive snap, a 56-yard touchdown pass from Jonathan Saddler to Myles Taylor, which set the stage for a convincing 33-17 season-opening win for the reigning section champs.
According to the senior quarterback, however, the scoring strike was not executed exactly as it was drawn up.
“It was a read play, but my read was a little cloudy,” Saddler said. “I saw someone coming off the edge, I rolled out, and I just threw it up there for my playmaker.”
Putting that first touchdown in the books, he added, was a big confidence booster for an offensive unit widely expected to be one of the best in Section I. Saddler finished the day with three passing touchdowns, including another strike to Taylor, who also broke a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second half.
“It felt great, we just wanted to come out and set the tone; we knew we had to do that in the first couple of plays,” he said. “It’s great knowing that I can dump a pass off for like five yards and know that one of my teammates can take it 80 or 90 yards.”
But as explosive as New Rochelle’s offense was on Saturday, the Tigers didn’t make it easy. A Mamaroneck surge at the end of the second quarter—highlighted by an end-around flea-flicker pass from quarterback Tommy Dillon to Tim Sommers—saw the Tigers head into halftime trailing their hosts 20-10.
But New Rochelle clamped down in the second half, keeping Mamaroneck off the board until Dillon scored on a keeper with only a few seconds left in the game.
“Earlier this morning we didn’t have that great of a practice and it showed that we lacked a little bit of focus,” Saddler said. “That was pretty evident at the end of the second quarter.”
But the New Rochelle quarterback believes that a few defensive lapses are not indicative of how he expects that unit to play this year, chalking much of the performance up to first-game jitters.
“I think we’re going to play better every single week, and this is just going to be one game out of hopefully 13,” he said. “Coach [DiRienzo] is going to have us back in on Sunday, ready to work, and we are going to be better.”
Mamaroneck will be on the road again this week, as they travel to Suffern (1-0) to take on the Mounties on Sept. 8. Last Saturday, Suffern earned a win over Mount Vernon, topping the Knights 21-20.
On Sept. 9, New Rochelle will host Clarkstown South (1-0), which is coming off an impressive 42-0 romp over Ramapo.