WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The White Plains High School football team is now 0-2 after a 14-0 loss to rival New Rochelle on Friday, but head coach Michael “Skip” Stevens told his players after the game that they have no reason to feel down.
“I told them. I said, ‘You played the No. 2-ranked team in the state of New York in (Class) A (in Harrison) and you had an opportunity. You played the No. 10-ranked team in AA and you had an opportunity,’” Stevens said. “'What does that say about you? Stop the nay-saying. Stop the second-guessing. We’re here to play and we’ll play hard.'”
The Huguenots shut out the Tigers in a game marred by penalties and turnovers that slowed the pace to practically a crawl. Both teams received sideline warnings within a few minutes of each other and yellow flags flew onto the field with regularity.
Stevens said the penalties were a problem, but pointed to the Tigers’ four turnovers as the main cause of the loss. New Rochelle did not turn the ball over once.
The Tigers also did a fine job limiting New Rochelle quarterback Khalil Edney, who threw just one early touchdown pass and never really broke free during the game.
“He’s a great player,” Stevens said. “I think we were able to put some pressure on him at times that he’s not used to having pressure and it forced him to throw the ball a little bit higher than he’s used to and a little bit harder because he was on his heels a little bit.”
Despite the win, New Rochelle coach Lou DiRienzo was not exactly pleased with his team’s performance.
“I don’t know that we put our best foot forward,” DiRienzo said. “I don’t know how many yards in penalties we had, but we had a (boat) load. … We might have had 300 yards offense and 14 points.”
Edney had plenty to say about the penalties after the game.
“Those refs were looking to throw those flags,” Edney said. “They were onto them. From the jump, they were ready to throw the flag.”
The quarterback said the numerous penalties were a product of the Huguenots’ energy.
“(It’s the) first night game of the year. It’s against our rival,” Edney said. “Those penalties were on our veterans and they know better than that. They’re smarter than that. So I think it was just excitement.”
Edney put the first points on the board with a touchdown pass to Mario Pierre that made it 6-0 in favor of New Rochelle with less than a minute left in the first quarter.
Both sides then stayed out of the end zone until the fourth quarter. With 10:40 left to play, sophomore running back Jon Forrest punched it in from the 3-yard line, and New Rochelle succeeded on the two-point conversion to make it 14-0 and end the night’s scoring.
The Huguenots and Tigers are one of the oldest football rivalries in New York. DiRienzo said White Plains is a "great venue to play a game” and Edney said the win proved the Huguenots’ strength.
“It shows that we can handle it,” Edney said. “This is a big test for us.”