By Rick Remsnyder
For Capital Region Independent Media
MIDDLETOWN — Senior running back Aidan Lochner was hoping things would be different in this year’s NYSPHSAA state semifinal contest against Pleasantville when he put Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk ahead 6-0 late in the first quarter with an explosive 38-yard touchdown run.
But unfortunately for the Indians, they wouldn’t find the end zone again and the Section 2 champions dropped a 14-6 decision to Section 1’s Pleasantville Saturday afternoon at Middletown High School’s Faller Field.
Last year on the same field, Pleasantville (12-0) ended the RCS Indians’ dreams of playing for a state title with a 15-7 win.
Lochner was pretty much the entire offense for the Indians as he rushed for 171 yards on 26 carries. The rest of the team combined for just 26 yards.
But Lochner will long remember the final carry of his high school career when he fumbled the ball near midfield with 2:17 left to allow the Panthers to run the clock down to the final minute.
“I didn’t know if I was down or not,” said Lochner, who was swarmed by Pleasantville tacklers on the carry. “I asked around and I found out I wasn’t down. We still had some hope in the game, but there wasn’t really much I could have done after that.”
Pleasantville ran three more plays and then punted the ball inside the Indians’ 5-yard line.
Quarterback Luke Misetich tried to hit wide receiver Jack McFerran over the middle, but his overthrown pass was intercepted by Pleasantville’s Louis Sdao. The Panthers took a knee and ran out the clock and ended RCS’ quest for a trip to the state finals.
Pleasantville took a 7-6 lead on junior quarterback Aidan Picart’s 29-yard pass to Eric Coleman, followed by the conversion kick with 9:08 left in the second quarter.
Following a three-and-out by the Indians, McFerran fielded a bad snap and managed to avoid the rush and hit a line drive punt on the run. Sdao fielded it and ran down the right sideline for a 55-yard touchdown to give Pleasantville a 14-6 lead halfway through the second quarter.
Trailing 14-6 at the half, the Indians’ best scoring threat was thwarted when Frankie Broadhurst couldn’t come up with a low Misetich throw in the end zone on fourth-and-4 early in the fourth quarter.
While RCS relied on Lochner’s powerful running to churn out yardage, Pleasantville had a much more balanced attack.
Picart, a senior quarterback, completed 13 of 19 passes for 149 yards and one TD. Coleman caught three passes for 73 yards and one touchdown and Emmet McDermott had five receptions for 51 yards. Junior running back Daniel Picart, Aidan’s twin brother, led the Panthers in rushing with 95 yards on 26 carries.
Veteran Indians coach Gary VanDerzee said Pleasantville’s defense posed a lot of problems for his offense.
“Defensively they’re always well-schooled,” VanDerzee said. “We had an opportunity. We had it down inside their 10 and you have to convert in those situations against a quality ballclub at this level.”
VanDerzee said he was proud of his entire team, particularly the senior class.
“They’ve continued the legacy of what we’ve done,” he said. “They’ve hung a banner in there that will be theirs and will be there the next 50 years. I probably won’t be there for those 50 years, but they’ll be here and they’ll be able to see it. They represent RCS football the way it should be represented.”
Before he walked off the field for the final time, Lochner got emotional when talking about playing football for his school and community.
“I’m very grateful for my teammates and coaches for putting in the work to get this far along,” he said. “Everybody wishes we could have gone farther to the Dome and had a shot at a state title. But we played our hearts out and we worked hard all year to get to this point.”