The Rams were being dominated early on by the Bobcats of Byram Hills. The score said 13-7 at halftime, but the Port Chester High School football was lucky to still be within a score.
“We never really had the momentum in that game,” said Head Coach Greg Domestico about last weekend's varsity game. “Other than one drive right before halftime, which didn’t matter because they had a long drive to start the third quarter.”
Byram Hills came out from halftime and methodically drove right down field for a touchdown that put them ahead 20-7 while eating up the clock at the same time. During that drive the Port Chester defense did not seem to be motivated enough to stop the Bobcats, except for one voice.
“Respect” was being shouted every few moments along with a number of “do your job” and “make your tackles” shouts. The motivational calls came from 5’-7” senior safety Jason Ippolito. But Byram Hills scored on that drive and things were looking bleak for the Rams.
After his efforts to motivate his teammates verbally had failed, Ippolito decided to lead by example and ran the ensuing kick-off 70 yards back for a touchdown. The Rams went crazy and were now hungry for the victory. When asked about the return Ippolito took no credit.
“It was great blocking by my teammates,” said Ippolito. “When they block for me like that, they make it easy and I want to make a play for them. It’s always a team effort.”
Port Chester continued to fight and came away with a dramatic 21-20 victory on the road. It was a team game and a number of players made great plays but Ippolito led the team in every way a team can be led.
“Jason is our two-year captain and our heart and soul,” said Domestico. “Every week when we look to him and he makes it happen for us. He puts this team on his shoulders. He’s one of the best players I’ve coached in my five years here and maybe he is the best.”
Despite the individual performance and praise, Ipppito is just happy to be playing, and winning, with the guys he has always played football with.
“These guys are my family, I grew up playing football with all of these guys. This is our year together and this is my family," said Ippolito. "That’s the way I look at it. I couldn’t be prouder to be considered a leader of a group of guys like this. They’ve got my back and I’ve got theirs.”
The Rams are looking for an undefeated season and they will have their hands full if they expect to reach that goal. With a leader like IPPITO and the fight that they showed against Byram Hills, it would be silly to put an undefeated season past them.
Today, Port Chester hosts Brewster at 1:30 p.m. at Ryan Stadium.