RYE, N.Y. -- Rye Country Day School comes off a perfect 2011 football season with titles in the Fairchester and New England private school leagues, so the school is up for new challenges and will play three games against Section 1 public school teams to begin the season.
"We had a couple of byes in our schedule so we'll be facing Tuckahoe, Bronxville and Roosevelt (Yonkers) to start the season," Wildcats' coach John Calandros said. "We'll approach these games the same way we do in our league. We want to improve each time out and play hard. I think the players will perform well and it will be a good test for us."
The school lost several starters to graduation from last fall's 10-0 team, but has a strong group of leaders led by quarterback Raishaun McGhee (Greenwich, Conn.), running back Tyler Fernandez (Mount Vernon) and lineman Henry Heller (Harrison).
"We're a close group and we have had a lot of success, so we are confident," McGhee said. "It helps to have a good relationships with each other. It makes us a strong team."
Heller said the Wildcats hope to continue the recent winning tradition and build on the school's reputation for good football.
"I'm really looking forward to playing against the Section 1 teams because we have scrimmaged against them and feel we can compete and win," Heller said. "We have to do the same things we do in our league. We play hard and we have good coaching. I think we have a lot of talent at RCDS."
Fernandez stressed the small-school, family-first atmosphere.
"Coach talks about family a lot and we feel like we are like a family," Fernandez said. "In football, you have to be close and depend on each other. We want to show that we can compete with schools outside our league."
The Wildcats open their season at 2:30 p.m. Sept. 15 at Tuckahoe High School.