NEW ROCHELLE, NY — New Rochelle will play Rochester-based Aquinas Institute, the Section 5 winner, for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class AA championship on Saturday. It’s the school’s first trip back to the state championship game since 2012.
“We’re going to have to play our optimum best to bring home the flag,” said New Rochelle Coach Lou DiRienzo. “I’m sure my players are going to put their best foot forward. It’s an honor to be at the party, but we’re not just satisfied with being invited. We want to come home with the prize.”
The Huguenots defeated Shaker High School, 27-19, last Saturday night on a defense that adjusted well to Shaker’s game plan and on the legs of senior Jordan Forrest.
Forrest started the scoring with a 20-yard rushing touchdown. He led the team’s offense with 26 carries for 285 yards on the ground on Saturday at Middletown High School. Both teams ran the ball for much of their offense. The Huguenots rushed 38 times for 317 yards while the Bison rushed 43 times for 286 yards.
Shaker came back with two touchdowns from Joe Toutai and Logan Souza. Forrest then ripped off a 74-yard touchdown run. The Huguenots attempted a two-point conversion but could not reach the goal line and the score was 13-12, Shaker. Shaker quarterback Connor McHugh then ran for a 14-yard touchdown to make the score 19-13 at the half.
After receiving the ball in the third quarter, Shaker was stopped by New Rochelle’s defense on its first drive to open the door for the Huguenots. Halim Dixon-King caught a 31-yard touchdown pass from Mac Coughlin with 5:48 left in the quarter to tie up the score. Coughlin completed 7 of 13 passes for 96 yards.
After the extra point, New Rochelle never looked back and Forrest added a 65-yard run for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to finish the scoring.
“We’ve got to hit a few extra sprints, maybe do some extra conditioning and be ready for Aquinas’s speed,” Forrest said. “But we have our own speed, so we’ll have to match speed with speed.”
Forrest and Shaker running back Ravion Burt were the game’s offensive MVPs. New Rochelle senior defensive tackle Khairi Manns and Shaker safety Shane Lavender won defensive MVP honors. Mann contributed nine and a half tackles, a sack and a blocked extra point on the evening.
The game is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday at the Carrier Dome on the Syracuse University campus in Syracuse, N.Y.