Seniors Jake Feuerstein, Patrick Kantor and Jack Lazarus and sophomore Tyler Pierro all played varsity football together last fall for Scarsdale High School. This spring, their family members are playing girls flag football together, while several others are following in their brothers’ paths by playing high school football.
And like the record-setting eight players who followed in their fathers’ footsteps by playing varsity football at the high school last fall, Fiona Kantor is doing the same this spring with the new pilot program.
Football and family remain synonymous at Scarsdale.
For Hannah Feuerstein, family events usually revolve around a football get-together, so having her uncle, David (class of 1991), and cousin, Jake (’22), play for Scarsdale definitely played into her decision to take up flag as a junior this spring.
“It was a huge impact loving the sport from a young age, always throwing the ball around and having a good time,” Feuerstein said. “Having it be a real sport at this school and being part of the team is just really amazing. I practiced every day in the backyard with my dad before tryouts to warm up the arm and get a good sense of how to throw and catch like I would in a game. I really enjoy it.”
Feuerstein has played many sports over the years, notably basketball, but she finally found her calling. “I come home every day with a smile,” she said. “It wasn’t like that with other sports — sometimes bad coaching — but my coach for this team is really amazing. I really enjoy everyone on the team.”
Sophomore Fiona Kantor is the fourth Kantor to follow in dad John’s (’85) footsteps with Scarsdale football behind Finbar (’14), Dermott (’18) and most recently senior Patrick (’22). Weekends were all about football, so much so that Fiona Kantor, who also swims, gave up playing lacrosse to join the flag team.
“I was really set on playing lacrosse, but when they announced this I thought maybe I would join and my brother was the one who really encouraged me,” she said. “He said it was a new program and would be really fun to actually try out. I’m very happy with my decision. I’m definitely going to continue it if they have it next year. I have a feeling they will.”
Not only did freshman Addie Lazarus’ brother, Jack, play football for the Raiders, but their dad played in college. “It’s always been a part of my life,” she said. “We always talk about football and we watch it a lot. I would have catches with my brother every so often and I think him playing played into my choice to play a little, but I also love the sport. I’ve always wanted to play.”
Playing organized ball for the first time has presented some challenges for Lazarus, but the overall experience has been positive. “I just really like the team and being able to play,” she said. “It’s a real sport now and it’s awesome. It’s just a little hard to memorize everything. There’s so much to talk about and remember, but it’s very fun.”
Audrey Gendel’s brother, Jared, graduated in 2021 and she said she belongs to a football family, too. “I always used to go to my brother’s games,” she said. “I always found it fun because my brother was playing, but I think even if my brother didn’t play I would still have played because of my love of sports. It definitely helped me know the game more and understand it. Seeing him play and my parents motivating him — and he was a big guy on the line tackling — my parents are especially happy that I am playing because they see it from both perspectives now at Scarsdale.”
Gendel had no flag experience, but having missed her senior season of soccer due to injury she was glad to have a team experience to end her high school career. She called it “an amazing and incredible opportunity that I’m grateful for.”
Last school year when there were five overlapping sports seasons, then-senior Ryan Silberfein went from football team manager to starting extra-point kicker just because the team needed someone to fill the slot. It was unexpected and not just a feel-good story, but a success story for Silberfein and the team as she made big contributions, becoming the first female to play for varsity in team history. Now her younger sisters, junior Mattie and sophomore Brady, are playing flag together.
When the idea of this story was brought to their attention, one sister said, “I wasn’t even thinking about Ryan.” The other said, “Me neither.”
For the Silberfeins it was more that they had experienced playing flag football for one week each summer at camp, and they both enjoyed it.
Upon further reflection, Mattie said, “Seeing her play did put the thought in my mind because playing football seems really fun. I think it’s a cool opportunity for us with a girls’ team and I think it was a cool opportunity for her to play on the guys’ team. I probably would have done it anyway, but it’s cool to think all of my sisters and I got to play football at different times in our high school experience.”
Would Ryan have enjoyed the chance to play flag if she were still in high school? “Oh, she would have loved this, especially since it’s not during soccer season,” Mattie said. “She would have definitely played, I think.”
Brady said she would have considered kicking for the boys in the fall, but she also has a conflict with soccer.
“This was just a good opportunity to play flag football and I’ve played before,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed the game. The rules are a little bit different here and we’re playing with people we like here. We’ve maintained a high participation rate, so I’m glad so many people are interested and wanted to come play and have fun.”
Three sisters having played high school football — tackle or flag — is still quite remarkable.
Olivia Pierro is in the unique situation of having her brother Tyler, now a sophomore, coached at junior varsity by their father, Chris, a longtime football coach at Scarsdale High School. Now Pierro’s dad is an assistant coaching her for the first time ever in any sport and both are having the time of their lives.
“To have my daughter, who is now graduating, in her senior year and to be able to work with her every day has been a lot of fun,” Chris said. “We’re going home and watching film together and doing that kind of stuff. It’s been awesome. Now I’m with her every day for a couple of hours. Coaching her in the first game was great. It’s a lot of fun.”
Opting to play flag was a last-minute decision for Pierro once she found out her dad would be on the inaugural coaching staff for the team.
“I thought it would be really fun,” Pierro said. “It’s nothing I’ve ever done before. I’ve watched football, but never tried to play it, so being able to play with a bunch of girls is awesome. I wanted to be part of that.”
Olivia had watched her dad coach Tyler and had been to plenty of her brother’s games over the years. “I’ve thrown a ball, but never done routes or anything,” Olivia said. “The coaches have been amazing, telling us what to do, teaching us and we’ve really come together this season so far.”
Pierro is one of many soccer players on the flag team. She sees some similarities between the two sports. “Soccer you always have to be ready to go if something happens with the ball and you have to chase,” she said. “It comes in handy really well when you’re playing football. You have to be ready to go when you need to. Anyone can do it. It’s not rocket science — you see a ball, you run to it.”
Coaching the sisters of boys he’s coached has also been an interesting experience for Chris. “They’re so different than their brothers, so I don’t even compare them,” he said. “It’s just who they are.”
This is actually Chris’ first time coaching girls. He said the experience is much different as far as things like how they respond to correction and the way they are learning the game.
“A lot more, ‘I’m sorry.’ They apologize for everything,” Chris said. “I’m like, ‘Stop apologizing. It’s OK. Not everything is going to be perfect.’ Then they apologize for apologizing. They definitely listen differently. The boys, I think since they’ve played before, sometimes they come in thinking they know everything and they don’t know everything and the girls came in fresh the first time learning from us so they listen. They’re trying to get better and it’s just a different conversation. Talking to them is different the way you approach that. Fortunately, being a teacher, I deal with a lot of girls in school, so it’s not a terrible transition.”
He added, “They’re also cleaner.”
Dani Scheiner is an extremely unique participant in the flag program as she played junior varsity and varsity football the last two years as a kicker, giving her a bit of an edge. She became the second female to suit up for the varsity football team last fall, following Ryan Silberfein’s unexpected history-making season when she was in her first year of JV.
Unfortunately for Scheiner, she had surgery on her nonkicking foot and won’t be cleared until the end of this season, just in time to start getting ready for her senior year. She gave up golf to be with the flag program and opted to be the team manager this spring during her rehab. “So far watching them has been an amazing time and I think it’s going to be a really good season,” she said.
Scheiner’s brother Jack, who graduated in 2021, had played football, but stopped to focus more on basketball and baseball. “He was a great athlete,” Scheiner said. “He’s definitely had a huge influence bringing sports into my life and my family is huge football fans and always loved the sport.”
Freshman year, Scheiner was a cheerleader and decided she wanted to be on the other side of the lines.
“I’ve always been one to chase after my dreams of what I want to do,” Scheiner said. “I was obsessed with it and my parents were a huge support. I ended up letting the boys know and I started training with them my sophomore year, learning how to kick.”
She also played two games at wide receiver on JV and as a junior on varsity she was part of the kicking unit with Bennett Abbe and Ben Geller. “I started learning how to long snap at the end of the season, so I’m looking forward to maybe playing that position next year,” Scheiner said.
For now she’s watching her future teammates start the season 2-0 after they won their home opener Tuesday, April 26, by a 41-0 score over Greenburgh/North Castle. In addition to athleticism and skill, the team, which has six more regular season games before the postseason, has one other thing going for them that most others don’t: they’re family.