State playoff preview: Chester vs. Haldane
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New York State Class D Quarterfinals
Haldane (8-1) vs. Chester (10-0)
When: Friday, 4:30 p.m.
Where: Mahopac High School
State tournament history
2000: Lost in Class D state semifinals
2007: Lost in Class D state semifinals
2003: Lost in Class D state quarterfinals
2004: Lost in Class D state quarterfinals
2006: Lost in Class D state quarterfinals
2008: Lost in Class D state quarterfinals
2010: Lost in Class D state quarterfinals
Championship: Unbeaten Chester wins Section 9 title
Championship: Haldane knocks off Tuckahoe
Did you know? Chester running back Saxon Smith is close to Section 9’s all-time rushing record for a season. He has 2,528 yards, second only to Fred Ruiliano of Delaware Valley, who ran for 2,833 yards in 1998.
Player to watch
Saxon Smith, Sr., RB: The explosive talent is one of the most talked about small-school players in a decade. He has the talent to back it up, too.
Anthony Ognibene, Sr., QB: With some much attention going to Smith this weekend, look for Ognibene to make big plays in the second half.
Shawn Stover, Sr., OL/DL: The emotional leader of the defense, Stover is an intelligent player with great fundamentals.
Bryant Dain, Sr., FB/LB: One of the most impressive two-way player at Mahopac this weekend, Dain carried the Blue Devils in the second half/
Elias Lopez, Sr., QB: Lopez has the ability to take a game over on his own. Don’t be shocked if he plays role of hero this weekend.
Peter Allen, DB: Allen is so good in coverage and made two of the biggest plays of the weekend. His interception return for a touchdown devastated Tuckahoe.
Path to victory — Chester: Saxon Smith has taken you this far, why change anything now? Chester won’t, either. They’ve been eliminated in the first round in all six state-tournament appearance (all to Tuckahoe). Smith gives them hope that the trend will change. His success will depend on how he handles contact and if he can get by Haldane’s talented linebackers.
Path to victory — Haldane: The Blue Devils are playing with a tremendous amount of confidence after coming back from a 14-0 deficit to beat Tuckahoe. The second half of that game proved how well the offense moves when the ball is in Dain’s hands. With an eye on keeping Smith off the field, Haldane will ride Dain and let Lopez catch the defense sleeping with a big pass.
Devaney’s prediction: It’s not often that a Class D matchup gets this much hype, but Haldane and Chester are deserving of it. Chester must get over the disappointment of not facing Tuckahoe — the team that eliminated it six times in the state tournament — in this game. Haldane is a very good team, especially on defense. I like the Blue Devils in a very close game because of how physical their defensive front is and how well their secondary comes up to help stop the run. Smith might get big yardage, but I think Haldane gets the win. Prediction: Haldane 22, Chester 20.
Up next: The winner will face either Cambridge (Section 2) or Ticonderoga (Section 7) in the state semifinals on Friday, November 18 at Dietz Stadium in Kingston at 4 p.m.
Email Kevin Devaney Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org