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Eagles Face Unbeaten Hoosick Falls in Regionals

DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. – The Dobbs Ferry Eagles travel to upstate Kingston’s Dietz Stadium Saturday for an 11 a.m. showdown with unbeaten Hoosick Falls Panthers with the winner moving on to the New York State Class C championship game at the Syracuse University Carrier Dome next week.

“We have a lot of senior leaders who want to win a state championship,” Eagles quarterback Spencer Avalos said after the Eagles topped O’Neill in last week’s state regional quarterfinal. “Each win is another step.  Everyone is working 100 percent to reach our goal.”

Section 1 champion Dobbs Ferry (9-1) and Hoosick Falls (11-0), the Section 2 representative, each won regional quarterfinals last week by identical 47-13 scores, a possible indicator that the Class C semifinal will be a close game between two equally talented teams.

The Eagles have an edge here because Section 1 football has been historically stronger than Section 9 teams. The Eagles, who won a Class D state title in 2002 and Class C titles in 2004 and 2006, did play Hoosick Falls in the 2003 state semifinal, losing 14-6. Bronxville defeated Hoosick 28-27 in the 2009 regional semifinal.

The Panthers rely on a prolific spread offense that features running back Brad Burns (1,100 yards and 20 touchdowns) and Tanner Williams (1,200 yards and 25 touchdowns), in an offense that has outscored opponents 529-109. Quarterback Billy Pine runs the run-and-gun offense and has passed 1,289 and 13 touchdowns.

Dobbs Ferry runs a more traditional run offense that can pass off the play fake. The Eagles have several backs that can break big runs, including quarterback Spencer Avalos, halfbacks Eddie Ritch, who had a career-day rushing for 250 yards and four touchdowns last week, Brian Gardner and John Yozzo-Scaperrotta to compliment smashing fullback Tim Soave.

But it will be up to the Eagles defense, the most consistent force all season, to deliver this week. Led by Matt Fata, last week’s Defensive Player of the Game, Rocco Cipriani, Dennis DeLeon, Avalos, Gardner, Yozzo-Scaperrotta and the rest of the Eagles, coach Jim Moran has insisted all season that his team’s success has been fired by the defense. All-State linebacker Darien Bica, who sat out last week with a sprained ankle, said he should be ready to play.

“We have lot of offensive talent and we have improved through the season,” Moran said after the Eagles stuffed the potent Bronxville offense in the Section 1 Class C final. “But the defense has been there from Day 1 of practice. That’s what wins games.”

The Eagles ruined Bronxville’s two-year unbeaten streak three weeks ago and will do the same to Hoosick Falls if the defense limits mistakes and slows down the Panthers running game. The middle of the Eagles front line defense has been tough for offenses to handle, holding opponents to meager 68 points or 6.8 per game.

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