The Rye football team’s win over Sleepy Hollow on Sept. 14 may have seemed largely unremarkable at first glance. The Garnets—picked as a top Class A contender by most pundits at the beginning of the season—had no problems with the young Horsemen, trouncing the visitors 47-7 in a one-sided affair. But the victory also marked the 300th for longtime head coach Dino Garr, who moved into rarefied air as one of New York’s all-time winningest coaches.
Garr began his coaching career at Rye High School in 1976 before leaving for Westlake following the 1978 season. In 1985, he returned to Rye for good, leading the Garnets to Class B state titles in 2005, 2007 and 2008. In his 34 years at the head of the Garnet program, he has amassed a record of 258-81-3.
Friday’s win made Garr the sixth coach in state history to summit the 300-win plateau. Along with Tony DeMatteo—whose Somers team lost to the Garnets a week ago—Garr is one of just two Section I coaches to reach the mark.
“I was just blessed that [former Rye Athletic Director] John Nugent had faith in me to give me the job,” Garr said after the game. “Later on, they gave me another chance to come back. This is a very special time for me—and to do it at Rye in front of the fans tonight or any night.”
If there was any doubt that Friday night would result in Garr’s 300th win, Rye put them to rest early on. The Garnets (3-0) scored on their very first drive when quarterback Declan Lavelle his Chad Antico for the game’s first score. Lavelle would finish with two passing touchdowns on the night, and Antico would haul in another from backup Jack Griffiths as Rye held a commanding 40-7 lead after three quarters of play.
“We knew we wanted to do it for him, the greatness he’s had at this school and overall in his whole career,” Lavelle said. “It’s awesome to see and we were just happy to be a part of it.”
As time expired on the field, Garr was doused with Gatorade by seniors Jack Iuliano and Lachlan Nelson before being mobbed by his players and a throng of well-wishers who filled Nugent Stadium for Rye’s home opener. The head coach was then feted at midfield with a banner and a plaque commemorating his achievement.
“I really hadn’t thought about it, it kind of hits you in the face—in this case, the water—when it happens,” the coach said. “I didn’t realize they were going to do this kind of stuff.”
With the milestone behind him, Garr and the Garnets will now prepare for their next test, which could be the toughest of the season to date. On Sept. 21, Rye will host undefeated Clarkstown South in a game that could well be a preview of the section finals. In 2017, Clarkstown reached the Class AA finals, but they have since been reclassified and moved down to Class A, where they have emerged as a championship frontrunner in the first three weeks of the season.
“We’re very excited, we know they’re a good team and we are too,” Lavelle said. “We’re going battle on Friday night and it’s going to be a great game.”