MIDDLETOWN, NY (NEWS10) — Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk and Section I’s Pleasantville are no strangers to each other. The Panthers bounced the Indians from state title contention in last year’s semifinals with a 15-7 victory. The two combatants met once more in the semis Saturday, but again, Pleasantville had Ravena’s number, winning 14-6 in another defensive slugfest.
Ravena got off to a promising start. With 33 seconds to play in the opening quarter, senior running back Aidan Lochner rattled off a 37-yard touchdown run out of the Wildcat formation to break a scoreless tie, and give his team the early, 6-0 edge.
The Panthers would answer right back, though. On their ensuing drive, junior quarterback Aidan Picart aired a ball out for junior wide receiver Erik Coleman, and he dropped it right into Coleman’s waiting arms for the 29-yard strike; Pleasantville tacked on an extra point, claiming the 7-6 lead.
Pleasantville added to that advantage on a wild play minutes later. Junior Jack McFerran was on to punt for the Indians, and had difficulty handling a high snap. After racing away from the Panthers’ coverage team to miraculously get a punt off, the ball was corralled by Pleasantville sophomore Luis Sdao, and returned 52 yards for a touchdown, giving the Panthers an eight-point lead that they would take into the locker room.
That would prove to be the final score of the contest. Defense prevailed in the second half. The Indians’ defense thwarted a number of lengthy Panthers drives in the third and fourth quarters, but the offense could not return the favor.
On the Indians’ final drive, senior quarterback Luke Misetich was intercepted by Emmet McDermott, putting the game away.
Ravena head coach Gary Vanderzee had a message after the game for his senior class that managed to claim back-to-back section titles, and reach the state semifinals in consecutive seasons.
“The message is that they’ve continued the legacy of what we’ve done, and we’ve talked about,” said Vanderzee. “They’ve hung a banner in there that’s gonna be theirs; it’ll be theirs for the next 50 years. I probably won’t be there for those 50, but they’ll be there, and they’ll be able to see it. They represent RCS football the way it should be represented.”
The Indians close out the year at 10-3; they recorded a 7-1 record in league play. They do lose the services of Misetich next season, who had a 15-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio, as well as Lochner, who surpassed the 1,500-yard mark on the ground this year. However, Vanderzee will return three key position players who accounted for 69% of the team’s receiving yards, and registered 16 total touchdowns: juniors Dominik Paljusaj, Wyatt Algozzine, and Jack McFerran.