SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — Rivalry provides added allure and excitement to high school sports as fans from communities fill the stands in support of their local teams. Rivalries are timeless despite the changing cast of players.
With a playoff berth on the line, the intense football rivalry between Sullivan West and Liberty reaches its latest boiling point on October 6 in Lake Huntington, as the Indians and Bulldogs square off for the remaining Division I spot in the Class C playoffs semifinals slated for October 28. Last year, Liberty’s 26-12 regular season win barred the Bulldogs from reaching the playoffs a year after Liberty shocked the favored Bulldogs in the Class C semifinals 17-13. Both teams are currently 1-1 in Class C.
This past weekend, Sullivan West (3-2 overall) trounced Livingston Manor/Roscoe 33-0, ending a two-game skid behind an epic performance from Tom Mootz, who rushed for 131 yards, had two TDs and 18 tackles. E.J. Franskevicz threw TD passes to Sawyer Erlwein and Zac O’Connor. Jared Meola ran for TD as well. The night before, Liberty (4-1) squeaked by Pine Plains 35-28. Also vying for a playoff berth is Class A Monticello, which nearly pulled off an epic upset over top-ranked Wallkill as they fell 28-21 on a last-minute score by their namesakes. Monticello needs wins over Port Jervis and Goshen to punch a ticket back to the playoffs. They lost to Cornwall a year ago in the semifinals. Meanwhile, Tri-Valley is still in the hunt, despite losing a league game to Burke 21-7 this past weekend. The feisty Bears will need victories over Fallsburg and arch-rival Millbrook to secure the remaining Division II berth. Burke and O’Neill are the top seeds from Division II and I, respectively.
Cats and Dawgs: Though the rivalry between Sullivan West and Monticello is of a non-league variety, it still has legs from season to season. In fall, those kerfuffles are played out principally on the soccer pitch.
On September 26, the Sullivan West boys (1-5-1) garnered their first win of the season as they beat the Monties 4-1. Richard Lander had the hat trick with a trio of goals. Junior varsity call-up Gavin Owen was spectacular in goal in his second-half stint as he recorded 11 saves. John Masten scored a goal as well, as he has now been moved from the cage to the front line to utilize his speed and aggressive style of play.
While the boys games between these two schools are interesting (SW won the match last year, too), the girls games are apt to be far more intense. Two years ago, Sullivan West beat Monticello at home under the lights 4-3 in a game they led 3-0 until a furious comeback by the Lady Monties. That fray was quite physical and the Montie seniors remembered it well as they took to their home pitch on September 27. SW’s Hannah Feinman is the only veteran left from that epic 2009 clash. This year, it was the Lady Panthers (2-4), who prevailed by the score of 3-0. The Lady Westies (3-5) have been plagued by injuries and are fielding a team heavily comprised of young and inexperienced players. Monticello got goals from Annie Purcell, Kerissa Bennett and Heather Miller. The rivalry resumes under the lights in Lake Huntington on the Lady Bulldogs’ senior night on October 11.
Meanwhile on the harrier circuit, the rivalry is more multi-dimensional, as cross-country runners from host Tri-Valley and visiting Eldred, Sullivan West, Monticello and Liberty will dial it up on the T-V course, which has been idle for a couple of years due to construction. Eldred and T-V will vie for the Division V title at Eldred on 10/18, while Liberty and SW will take on the likes of Burke and O’Neill in the Division IV clash at Liberty the same day. T-V will visit Sullivan West for the Westies’ lone home meet on 10/11.
Later this month, runners from all schools will head to Bear Mountain for the OCIAA league race on October 28. Sectionals are slated for Bear Mountain on November 4. Eldred will vie in Class D. Alex Campanella is ranked sixth in NYS overall and first in Class D. Hunter Proscia is ninth in Class D. T-V, SW and Liberty will go at it in the Class C sectionals. T-V’s Autumn Bender is ranked 35th in Class C in NYS. SW’s Dani Myers is listed as 69th. T-V’s Omar Lopez is currently ranked 25th, while Jimmy Bernstein is 31st. Rankings invariably change from week to week.
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