NEW ROCHELLE – Tristan Werlau, the best Carmel football team ever built for last year’s state championship, played running back on the freshman team. He was sure his time would come, but the jump from Werlau and other non-varsity players to starring for the defending champions was big.
The Rams and their new running back looked like the Rams of old. They were as solid as they were powerful, crushing New Rochelle on home turf, winning 41-14 in front of a sprawling crowd at Flowers Park.
“We have kids that played on that state championship team. We just try to take it like we don’t care where we play, it’s just a business trip, week in and week out,” Carmel coach Todd Cayea said. “Let’s get in there and take care of business. I think that was the focus. This didn’t seem to affect them one bit. A lot of guys on this team played in much bigger focuses than this one and I think a lot of that experience helped.”
Plus:See the complete results of the Week 1 Section 1 high school football games
But that experience was invaluable to a Rams team that graduated 23 seniors. They looked at seven juniors on defense, debuted a new starting quarterback and largely turned the offense over to a sophomore on Friday night. However, Carmel never turned the ball over or even kicked after his first possession, scoring six times in a row on offense.
“It’s not the same group as last year. We had a lot of good seniors last year, good friends of mine, but we have a lot of juniors to come. They did a great job preparing and played amazing, but we’re going to keep working,” he said. senior Owen Boland, one of two starters returning to the front. “There are still a lot of improvements we can make.”
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What does it mean
Carmel certainly played like a team that could become a serious contender again. Remember, New Rochelle beat defending Section 9 champion Newburgh (who played Carmel last year in the state semifinals) last week, but it was the Rams who dominated this game, which was their 17th straight win.
Tristen Werlau, Carmelo. The sophomore started out as a running back in place of the injured Thomas Keating and showed he could handle a heavy workload. Werlau charged 22 times for 133 yards and scored two touchdowns in his college debut.
“I expect good things from myself,” Werlau said. “I knew this was my biggest game. I just had to come here and play.”
by the numbers
Carmel (1-0) ‒ Junior Damian Santiago sacked and had two long receptions from Matt Gay that totaled 77 yards. … Gay was 3-of-4 for 97 yards in his first start at quarterback. Nick Rosaforte, the only player from all sections to return from the Rams, rushed for three touchdowns.
New Rochelle (1-1) ‒ Austin Luzzi completed 12 of 19 passes for 174 yards, including five completions for 82 yards to Corey Dawson. Dawson and Reyden Davis each ran for a touchdown.
they said it
“Our expectations are at least the section, but that’s in the future,” Boland said. “We are focusing more on the day to day. The section is our vision, but we are only focusing on one day at a time.”
“The first thing I told them is that you guys are the 2022 Carmel team. You’re not the state champions. That’s 2021. We’re 2022, so let’s work hard,” Cayea said. “We’ve got some talent here. Let’s make our own legacy. Now, the standard is the standard here. We’re going to play one way and everybody jumps on board.”
Until next time
Carmel is scheduled to visit the Yonkers Force at 3:30 pm Friday at Roosevelt High School. New Rochelle will travel to Yonkers Brave at Saunders High School on Saturday, September 17 at 1:30 p.m.
Josh Thomson is the sports editor for The Journal News, the Poughkeepsie Journal, and the Middletown Times Herald-Record. He can be reached by email at [email protected], on Twitter at @lohudinsiderand on Instagram at @lohudinsider.