NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- Justin Douglas, Ray Ganley and their New Rochelle varsity football teammates eagerly were awaiting the first day of practice for one reason.
The Huguenots were very angry with the premature conclusion to their 2011 football season. New Rochelle, which had won five consecutive Section 1 Class AA football championships (2006-10), was upset in the semifinals by John Jay-East Fishkill.
“That was devastating,” said the 6-foot-3, 285-pound Douglas. “Seeing them play and us not playing at all made us want to get back out here.”
“We felt we didn't get beat, but we beat ourselves with mistakes,” said the 6-3, 208-pound Ganley.
New Rochelle returned to the field and has shown a greater purpose through the first four days of practice. The Huguenots are out to prove the defeat was an aberration. Once the 2011 season closed, Ganley said the Huguenots did not waste any time getting back to work, making the weight room a daily stop.
“The thought of that loss made me want to get back in the weight room so I can make myself a stronger and better player,” Ganley said.
This approach has filtered through the team. New Rochelle was so focused at the Tuesday-morning practice that veteran coach Lou DiRienzo let the team go early to lunch.
“After practice yesterday (Monday), coach (DiRienzo) felt that the seniors needed to step up more and also stay in the right mindset,” Douglas said.
The senior class will lead New Rochelle into the season. Douglas will line up at offensive tackle and nose guard on defense. Ganley will be an offensive and defensive tackle. Classmate Steven Noacke anchors the offensive line at center. Joe Clarke and Terrence Holden are the tight ends.
Khalil Edney will call the signals for a third consecutive year. The senior quarterback will hand the ball off to classmates Jason Ceneus and Wajonte Holden.
“We feel confident going into the season because we have all been working hard,” Ganley said. “We all have the same goal -- we want to win back that championship and start it again.”
New Rochelle will kick off the season Sept, 8 against Clarkstown South.
“We’re excited to go out there and play hard-nosed football,” Douglas said.