Red Hook Football: Playoff-bound

There’s a new head coach and a new quarterback and Red Hook’s varsity football team is coming off a rough season. All pretty good arguments why the Raiders should be coughing up a hairball this season.

But they’re all wrong. The team keyed a huge 36-23 win over rival New Paltz on Oct. 12, and clinched the final spot in the Section 9, Class B playoffs.

It was a give-and-take situation until the final quarter. Red Hook took advantage early, jumping out to a breezy 22-10 lead at halftime. But the Huguenots made an aggressive comeback in the opening act of the third quarter and took a 23-22 lead in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter on a Khariff LaBoy one-yard touchdown run, just one play after Red Hook linebacker Tim Terry stood him up viciously on a touchdown attempt. The Huguenots failed to convert a two-point attempt after the touchdown.

But doubling down on the lame-duck play that let New Paltz take the lead, the Raiders came out of the gates with a fury. Quarterback Nick Carlson had two big runs in the ensuing scoring campaign, running 20 yards with 9:36 left on the clock and jogging into the endzone with 9:19 left, to put Red up 29-23 with the point after.

Red Hook got the ball back after New Paltz failed to make anything happen in the next series, and looked poised to score until a non-call on a Huguenot encroachment confused the Raiders and led to a delay-of-game penalty that killed the Raiders’ scoring vibe.

It didn’t take long for Red Hook to get it back across the line, though; stuck with bad field position, the Huguenots fell to a heavy Red Hook rush, which helped force a blocked pass — nearly an interception — and an intentional grounding. After getting the ball on downs, Carlson traipsed in for the capping touchdown, and Red Hook sealed the game 36-23.

The Raiders couldn’t have asked for a better victory. On their way to a 4-5 season in 2012, Red Hook fell 39-9 to a tough New Paltz squad, and have been trading wins and losses with the Huguenots for a decade.

The Red Hook players were ecstatic after the win, swarming to the field to celebrate, and they were even more ecstatic when head coach John Kravic told them that they would take Columbus Day off.

“We clinched it. Now we’re just working on getting better and better and better, so that when we face-off with Marlboro, we can give them a competitive game,” Kravic told The Observer. “The team is obviously thrilled. We’ve gone through this season either winning by a lot or losing by a lot, and we were talking about what it is to be in a tight game and win it – and that’s what this one really was. Their hearts were really going at the end.”

The result of Red’s next game, against at Rondout Valley Oct. 19, wasn’t so peachy.

Red Hook kept Rondout from building any serious lead through the first quarter, and Carlson booted a 32-yard field goal to make the score 6-3. But things began to fall apart in the beginning of the third quarter, when Rondout broke out for an off-tackle running touchdown to begin their scoring campaign.

The Raiders looked like a touchdown threat at the end of the third, but a costly fumble led to a turnover and a Rondout touchdown at 8:14. Rondout sent the Raiders home, 24-3.

Red Hook looked they couldn’t make anything happen with their option offense, and Carlson had trouble finding receivers on long gains.

“We just couldn’t generate any offense,” said Kravic. “Penalties really hurt us — just momentum. They weren’t bad calls, we just weren’t moving our feet.”

With the win, Rondout Valley also cements a berth in the Section 9, Class B playoffs.

The Raiders are next scheduled for a road game at Millbrook on Oct. 25 at 7pm.

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