Pearl River got a glimpse of its 2012 football team late in the Pirates' 14-7 loss at home to Rye in the first round of the section playoffs Oct. 27, 2011.
Sophomore Chris Van Houten was brought in for his first varsity action. His first pass was interception, but he led the Pirates to their one score, throwing a touchdown pass to Mike Brophy.
"That was so important for him," Pearl River Head Coach Jeff Michael. "He had it very easy on the (junior varsity). He was picking apart JV teams. That one game motivated him to start working out in December, to work on his consistency and his speed. As a young kid, he is demonstrating the leadership you want from a quarterback."
Van Houten and the rest of Pearl River's team for next fall got their first look at opposing teams this past Saturday in the Big Apple 7-on-7 at White Plains High School.
"We grew by leaps and bounds," Michael said. "In 2011 when we did this, we went 1-2 and barely scored. We didn't make the playoffs. This year, the competition was more teams. We made the playoffs. We did very well."
The 7-on-7 competition drew 20 teams broken into five four-team divisions. The top team from each division and three wild cares made the playoffs. Teams get seven points for a touchdown. Defenses get two points for an interception, three if they return it for a score.
Pearl River defeated Hen Hud, 16-9, and Edgemont, 24-18, before losing to Pleasantville, 22-15. Pearl River lost its playoff game, 28-14, to Iona Prep, which went undefeated and won the entire event.
"We held our own," Michael said.
The 7-on-7 provided a good look at the wide-open, spread offense Pearl River will run in the fall. Pearl River is graduating quarterbacks John Brebbia and Brophy, top rushers Brophy and Conor Madigan and top receiver Sean Wilson.
"It's the spread, but we have some deeper threats this year," Michael said. "Our quarterback is very, very polished for a guy who spent two years on the JV. A very mature player. He reads defensive backs very well, reads coverages well and has a very strong arm."
Michael said Eric Corcoran, a returning starter at the "Mike" inside linebacker position, also had a strong performance Saturday, as did rising junior receiver Kevin Considine.
Matt Bosco, who came up late in the season as a freshman, and rising junior running back/receiver Joe Whouley also impressed.
Pearl River will go to Florida for the KSA National Football Sevens Tournament July 20-25. The tournament is held at the ESPN World Wide of Sports Complex at Disney World and draws teams from Texas, California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina, New York and Connecticut.
"It's going to be something," Michael said. "It's something I want the kids to be able to see. Even if it is not a good football experience, it will be a good life experience."
Even though 7-on-7 tournaments do not involve line play, many of the linemen will go along as a team-building exercise.