RYE, N.Y. – Andrew Aquilino began attending the annual Rye-Harrison game as a youngster and the rivalry made a big impression.
“The impact this game has on a young football player is awesome,” said the Rye senior and captain. “Going year after year and watching your town play in front of thousands of people is amazing. And that impact makes you, as a young football player, want to play on that field in front of those thousands of people.”
Aquilino will take the field, along with his Rye teammates, at Nugent Stadium Saturday at 1:30 p.m. for the 82nd renewal of “The Game” with archrival and undefeated Harrison.
Harrison leads the all-times series -- 41-37-3 – but Rye has won the last nine meetings, including last year, 17-7. The game annually draws a crowd of at least 7,500 people and in many years the crowd has swelled beyond 10,000.
“The feeling last year, when we won, was indescribable,” said Aquilino, a two-way starting linemen. “From the first snap to the last, I was having the time of my life playing in front of so many people, whether they were cheering for me or booing at me. It is the most important game of our lives and we are so grateful to have such a great rivalry with so many fans.”
A 10th consecutive Rye victory is a must for the Garnets, who are 4-2, to qualify for the Section 1 Class A Football Championships. Rye faces a Harrison team that has scored more than 30 points in all six games under the guidance of senior quarterback Vinnie Nicita.
“Harrison’s offense, which is the triple option, is very tough to defend because of all the different options the quarterback has, but we know Coach (Dino) Garr always knows how to defend it,” Aquilino said. “This game takes on added importance. If we win we’re in the playoffs and if we lose we are out of the playoffs.”