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Briarcliff Loses to Croton in Sectional Semifinal

VALHALLA, N.Y. -- Croton has had its collective eye on reaching one place in early November -- Mahopac High School, site of the Section 1 Football Championships. The Tigers entered the season aiming to make it four consecutive trips to Mahopac.

Following an undefeated regular season, Croton drew Briarcliff in a semifinal of the Section 1 Class B Football Championships, but did not fall into the trap. Instead of looking ahead to the final, top-seeded Croton knew it had to beat fourth-seeded Briarcliff and the Tigers did that 49-7 Tuesday at Valhalla High School.

The Tigers, now 8-0, will face second-seeded Our Lady of Lourdes in the title game, Saturday, 5 p.m. Croton will be looking for its second straight Class B championship and third sectional crown in the last four years.

Briarcliff (4-4), which has lost four in-a-row, will face Irvington in a bowl game. Quarterback Jesse Mainiero ran for four touchdowns and threw for two more -- a 30-yarder to Nick Grous and 30-yarder to Dennis Traditi. Brian Soares had the other score -- a 19-yard run.

“When I was in eighth grade we were the fifth seed and we beat the No. 1 seed and that has stuck with me throughout my career,” senior two-way lineman Dennis O’Connell said. “Every week we take it one game at a time and realize we can’t overlook anybody.”

Croton showed it was focused from the opening snap. The Tigers scored on all five of its first-half possessions. Mainiero opened the scoring with a 1-yard sneak and capped it with a 38-yard sweep.

The game, originally scheduled for Saturday, was postponed to Monday, then switched once again. The two extra days enabled Croton to get in additional practice, enabling the Tigers to run smoothly Tuesday.

“Everybody did their job tonight,” O’Connell said. “We knew that if we won we were going to the sectional championship. It’s great knowing that four years in a row we will be going to Mahopac.”

Briarcliff’s score came in the second quarter when quarterback Ryan Hooper connected with Colin Orr on a 10-yard touchdown. Hooper finished 7 of 13 for 168 yards and a touchdown.

Briarcliff 0 7 0 0 -- 7 Croton 15 20 14 0 -- 49

Croton -- Jesse Mainiero 1 run (Mainiero run). Croton -- Nick Grous 30 pass from Mainiero (Brian Soares kick). Briarcliff -- Colin Orr 10 pass from Ryan Hooper (Matt Pasternack kick). Croton -- Mainiero 3 run (Soares kick). Croton -- Dennis Traditi 30 pass from Mainiero (Pass failed). Croton -- Mainiero 38 run (Soares kick). Croton -- Soares 19 run (Soares kick). Croton -- Mainiero 3 run (Soares kick).

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