VALHALLA, N.Y. – Going into the 2012 high school football season, Rye Neck’s goal was to improve on last year’s record and qualify for the Section 1 Class C Championships.
Not only did the Panthers surpass their 2011 win total, they also completed an unprecedented regular season with a 22-0 victory Friday over host Valhalla.
Rye Neck went 6-0 and did not allow a point. Next up for the Panthers is the championships. The seeding meeting is Sunday, and the playoffs begin Thursday. Rye Neck is in line to get at least a top-two seed.
“If someone had said to us at the beginning of the season that we were going to go undefeated, we would have said we hope to do it,” senior two-way lineman and captain Mike Spiegel said. “It’s just unbelievable.
“I’ve been on varsity for four years, and this is the first time we qualified for the playoffs. And to do it our senior year, the way we have, feels amazing.”
Fullbacks Pedro Cueto (29 yards) and Dom Brescia (19 yards) scored touchdowns for Rye Neck to take a 14-0 lead into halftime.
Valhalla’s deepest penetration came in the first half as the Vikings reached the Rye Neck 21-yard line. However, Valhalla threw two incompletions on the third and fourth downs.
“We play every play as a team and we want to step it up every game on defense because we know our offense is going to score,” Spiegel said.
When he made varsity as a freshman, along with fellow captain Matt Brennan and three other classmates, Spiegel said he knew the future would be bright.
“Our program has always been very strong and that makes you want to play, even more so, your freshman year,” he said. “We knew that going through our four years we were going to do something good.”
Valhalla coach Kevin Martins applauded Rye Neck’s accomplishments this season.
“Nick Ianello and his staff do an outstanding job preparing his football team,” Martins said. “They have kids who can play ball and they make the plays when they need to be made.”