NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – New Rochelle High School honored its state championship football team with a special assembly Wednesday morning.
Players, students, coaches, family and friends packed the Whitney M. Young Jr. Auditorium to celebrate the Huguenots’ 34-6 win over Orchard Park in the Class AA state title game at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson and New York State Assembly member Amy Paulin each addressed the crowd and congratulated the team. New Rochelle Athletic Director Steve Young was the master of ceremonies.
Each player received an award with his name on it to commemorate the championship. The team gathered on the stage to pose for pictures as the ceremony ended.
Head coach Lou DiRienzo, who also spoke at the ceremony, said he and the team enjoyed having a day to relax and celebrate after the rigors and pressure of the season.
“It’s real nice for the kids and it just shows the support that we have from the city, from our school administration,” DiRienzo said. “And it just tells the kids their hard work, their behavior, them acting like gentlemen is well-noticed and well-appreciated. So it’s a great credit for these kids.”
Co-captain Jason Ceneus represented his team at the podium Wednesday and called his teammates his “best friends.” He also thanked the cheerleaders and band for their support at the games this season.
During the ceremony, several speakers mentioned current Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and his 2003 state championship team at New Rochelle. DiRienzo led that team, as well, but said the 2012 team completed its own special journey that started two years ago when many of the players were juniors.
“They took their weaknesses, made them into strengths. They accentuated their positives,” DiRienzo said. “And at the end of the day, they were the best football players in New York State.”
Wednesday was a day of celebration. But DiRienzo, ever the coach, knows what next year will bring.
“You don’t go in a season with the goal being a state championship,” DiRienzo said. “It’s one day at a time, one game at a time. Let’s get better each and every day. Let’s commit. And now the challenge is going to be to these three or four starters that we have returning to be the leaders and let people understand the way you have to go about your business to be a New Rochelle football player.”