Eli Ruiz | Democrat
New Paltz senior Nick DiMarco, a converted tight end, made the most of his first-ever game as a running back, racking up 103 yards on nine carries and scoring on a 51-yard touchdown.
Story by Eli Ruiz
MONTICELLO September 10, 2013 Heading into Saturday's non-league season opening game against Monticello, New Paltz head Coach Tom Tegeler had an idea who the Panther defense would be "keying on." After all, with four years of varsity experience two of them 1,000-yard-plus rushing campaigns under his belt, senior tailback Khariff LaBoy is the Huguenot's undisputed team leader.
So what did Tegeler do?
He gave LaBoy the ball. "We're a running team," affirmed Tegeler. "We'll pass the ball some, but right now I want to get off this field," he added as his team headed to the locker room with a tenuous 14-0 halftime lead.
But it wasn't just LaBoy's show, as fellow running-mate, senior Nick DiMarco, would have a big hand in wearing down an undermanned Panthers squad in the second half. New Paltz's dynamic rushing duo accounted for 210 of the Huguenot's 293 total offensive yards, and 24 of their teams' 27 points in a 27-7 non-league at Monticello.
It wasn’t pretty as New Paltz (1-0) was penalized 18-times in a nearly three-hour game that Tegeler later described as "definitely sloppy." Further elaborating on the flags, Tegeler said, "We have a lot of different formations, so what happens is you get somebody nicked up and then all of the sudden the whole flow breaks down and panic sets in.
“I'd say we're a little out of shape and a couple of nicks here and there. Then the center goes down and there's another four penalties. We certainly had a lot of penalties, but one good thing is we didn't have any bad penalties no personal fouls, no bad face-masks so I can correct the rest of those."
DiMarco who as late as July’s seven-on-seven scrimmage in Washingtonville was still the team's tight end took the handoff from quarterback Harrison Zraly on the third play of the game's opening drive, and after breaking several tackles, found himself 51 yards downfield in the end zone for the contest's first score.
"We knew coming in they'd be watching Khariff constantly, so we had a game plan for DiMarco," offered Tegeler. "He played probably the second best game on the field."
Indeed, as the fullback rushed for 103 yards on just nine carries, perfectly complementing LaBoy's finesse game with his hard-nosed, physical running style.
The Monties, for their part, played a tough first half, getting deep into New Paltz territory on three of their four first half drives, but came up frustratingly empty handed; a promising Panther drive in the waning moments of the first half ended on a lob from quarterback Jon Harned to running back/wideout Terry Duncan who make an outstanding diving catch just two yards short of the end zone as time expired with New Paltz up 14-0.
Despite the missed opportunities, Monticello opened the second half with a brisk 11-play, 57-yard drive culminating in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Harned to Duncan. That made the score 14-7 and put the Panthers right in the game.
“They're a good team,” said Tegeler. “They've got athletes all over the place. But we’re a solid football team too, and we win a lot of football games with hard work, good coaching and great kids."
But with just 25 players suited up for Saturday's game, and many of them playing on both sides of the ball, Monticello's defense quickly wore down. New Paltz wasted no time in answering Monticello’s first score with a punishing 63-yard drive that seemed to put the exhausted Panthers away.
When Monticello got the ball back, a Harned pass was tipped and landed safely in the hands of Huguenot cornerback John O'Donnell, leading to another LaBoy touchdown run from six yards out. LaBoy finished with 107 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns, two catches for 35 yards and another touchdown, along with two interceptions from his safety spot.
"I just felt really good out there," said LaBoy. "I'm used to doing this but it couldn't happen without my line and my fellow backs. Without them, there are no touchdowns, there are no yards, there's nothing."
LaBoy then spoke to New Paltz's painstaking game preparation process: "It's just a whole lot of film breakdown. During the week, after practice and at home. I go home and just break down film over and over for hours and hours at a time every single day."
Tegeler seemed to agree with his star: "Our strength and I don't want to give away all of our secrets as a staff, and the players, is our preparation. We are endless with game-film...endless. We watch it and watch it and watch it, then we watch it and watch it again. We beat an A school 27-7. I'll take it."
Monticello (0-1) plays a crucial division matchup at Cornwall Thursday.