Tags Posts tagged with "Blue Devils"

Blue Devils

by -
0 76
Huntington's Eric Sands pushes through the pack. Photo by Jim Ferchland

By Jim Ferchland

A series of fortunate events led Huntington football to a homecoming victory Oct. 21.

Down the entire game, a 76-yard touchdwon toss from quarterback John Paci to Alex LaBella gave the Blue Devils their first lead of the game, 20-13, with 6:22 remaining in the fourth quarter. Then, with one minute left to play, Riverhead went for a 2-point conversion following a 3-yard touchdown run from Darnell Chandler that made it 20-19, instead of trying to tie the game with an extra-point kick. The ball was dropped by Riverhead’s Albert Daniels in the end zone on the attempt to hand Huntington the game.

Huntington’s John Paci pulls back to launch a pass. Photo by Jim Ferchland

“Winning is always something we look to do,” Huntington head coach Steve Muller said, adding he did not anticipate the game finishing in this fashion it did. “We take it game by game no matter who they are. We respect everybody. We’re trying to get into the playoffs.”

At halftime, Huntington was down 7-0 after a 40-yard touchdown pass from Christian Pace to Chandler in the second quarter. The Blue Devils offense was lifeless in the first half.

“We thought we didn’t play good Huntington football,” Muller said. “I said to my guys in the locker room that there’s really nothing to say, but we can take over this game if we want to. It’s how bad you want to be remembered for this homecoming.”

Eric Sands, a Top 25 rusher in Suffolk County, had two touchdowns in the second half. The senior said he just wants to go to work every time he steps on the gridiron.

“I’m always excited when my name is called,” he said of consistently getting the football. “I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do and stay focused.”

Sands has 611 yards on 87 carries and 11 touchdowns through seven games this season. He scored on runs of 5 yards and 2 yards in the win, and finished the game with 132 yards on 25 carries.

Paci, who completed four of eight passes for 123 yards, seemed to be the hero after heaving the big touchdown pass to LaBella for the advantage, but the junior was quick not to take all the credit.

Huntington’s Alex LaBella races toward the end zone. Photo by Jim Ferchland

“I was scared when the ball was in the air,” Paci said. “It had some arc on it, but I was so excited when LaBella caught it.”

His senior wide receiver was also sweating on the other side of the field.

“There was a lot of nervousness,” LaBella said. “I just had to keep my eye on the ball, run down the field and score.”

Luke Eidle, who had 11 tackles and an interception, also aided Huntington.

Huntington hasn’t lost a game since Sept. 23, a 20-17 loss at home against West Islip. With the win over Riverhead, the Blue Devils have won four straight and improve their record to 5-2.

“I’m always proud of my team,” Muller said. “They’re all great kids and they work real hard everyday. That’s all I could ask for.”

Huntington will go on the road to conclude the season with a game at Bay Shore, which hasn’t lost its last two games, but only scored 10 points in that duration. The game will be Oct. 28 at 2:30 p.m.

Huntington football fans come out to celebrate homecoming. Photo by Jim Ferchland

Blue Devils edge Newfield, 21-14

Huntington’s Eric Sands almost single-handedly spoiled a second straight homecoming. After the Blue Devils running back racked up four touchdowns last week in a 28-23 edging of Smithtown West, he tallied two of three Huntington scores in a 21-14 win over Newfield Oct. 14.

“We played hard physically,” Newfield head coach Nick Adler said. “But we made too many mental mistakes and the game comes down to who makes the least mistakes. Today we were not that team and we shot ourselves in the foot.”

The Wolverines got on the board early when senior running back Terrell Thomas broke away with the ball in Newfield territory and covered 64 yards on his way to the end zone. Senior Jacob Newell successfully completed the point-after kick attempt to put his team up 7-0.

Newfield quickly racked up penalties to start the second, and Huntington quarterback John Paci made the Wolverines pay for the costly errors with a 46-yard touchdown run.

“We left everything out on the field; we play really hard, we practice hard, our only concern is we’ve got to fix those mental mistakes, it kills us every game,” senior lineman Zachary Ferrari said.

With the game tied 7-7 heading into the halftime break, Newfield knew it needed to make some adjustments to come away with the homecoming win.

“All we need to do is focus better and we can’t choke like on a fourth-and-5,” Ferrari said. “We really need to improve on that in the next two weeks we are really going to see if we can get it going.”

Unfortunately, Newfield couldn’t get it going against Huntington, and Sands was too much for the Wolverines to handle. He scored on runs of 3 yards and 20 yards in the third quarter to put Huntington out front 21-7. He finished the day with 153 yards on 21 attempts.

“All these teams are good, and we’re not going to be able to overcome and win a game against a team like that when we make that many mistakes,” Adler said. “This is a great team we played, but we have to regain our focus. The season’s not over and I look forward to next week.”

Junior wide receiver Anthony Cabral scored the Wolverines’ only other touchdown late in the third on a 5-yard pass from Newfield’s sophomore quarterback Maxwell Martin.

Newfield fell to 1-5 in the Division II standings while Huntington improved to 4-2 with its third straight win. Newfield hosts North Babylon (5-1) Oct. 20 at 6 p.m. before hosting Smithtown East (1-5) Oct. 27 in the last game of the season.

“We should come out the way we practice, with more energy and more focus,” senior lineman Christopher Vidal said. “I was very confident, and I still am very confident in my team. I know we can make a comeback. It’s just all about how much we really want it.”

Jen Holden contributed reporting

By Bill Landon

After what was argued to be a questionable call, Smithtown West’s football team couldn’t catch Huntington, falling 28-23 in the Bulls’ homecoming game Oct. 7.

On Huntington’s last possession of the third quarter, the offensive line stood and the line of scrimmage to start play, but decided instead to let the clock expire. What went unnoticed at field level was Huntington’s center bending over and touching the ball before he decided to stand up and let time tick off the clock.

Up in the press box, an assistant coach radioed head coach Steve Fasciani, who told player David Gonzales to pick up the ball and run with it. The wide receiver took off for the end zone, and officials blew their whistle at the 30-yard line, but Fasciani argued it was a live ball. After a 25-minute conference which including sourcing the rulebook, the ruling on the field stood that there was no touchdown.

“I have no problem with how our guys played in the second half today; all heart. They played tough and they took the next step in my opinion.”

—Steve Fasciani

In the fourth quarter, Smithtown West quarterback Kyle Zawadzki found wide receiver Chris Crespo open over the middle, who turned it up field for the touchdown with just over three minutes left to play. Kicker Matthew Villano scored on the extra-point kick attempt to pull Smithtown West within five, but Huntington took over and let the clock unwind.

“They play power football and they’re very good at it, but our second half — with how our defense played — was a huge step for us,” Fasciani said. “I have no problem with how our guys played in the second half today; all heart. They played tough and they took the next step in my opinion.”

Running back Eric Sands led the way for the Blue Devils, and after a long run down to the 2-yard line, he sealed the deal by punching into the end zone two plays later. Senior Nat Amato split the uprights for a 7-0 lead.

The Bulls struggled with their running game, and went three-and-out on their first three possessions against a formidable Huntington defensive unit.

Utilizing the hurry-up offense, Huntington connected on three consecutive pass plays to move the chains to the 15-yard line. Sands once again made his way into the end zone, racing down the right sideline and breaking a tackle before sauntering into touchdown land. After a low snap, holder Luke Eidle was able to gather it up and Amato struck again to put his team out front 14-0 with just over two minutes left in the opening quarter.

Smithtown West made progress up the field, but the Blue Devils defense forced a turnover, and Sands got the call once more as the junior raced 19 yards for the touchdown. Amato, perfect on the day, gave Huntington a 21-0 advantage with just under 10 minutes left until halftime.

“We thought they were identical to us with their offense — they’ve got a lot of talented skill players — but we knew coming in we were going to have to stop [Kyle Zawadzki].”

—Steve Muller

“[Eric Sands] was a monster in the beginning of the game,” Huntington head coach Steve Muller said. “We thought they were identical to us with their offense — they’ve got a lot of talented skill players — but we knew coming in we were going to have to stop [Kyle Zawadzki].”

But the coach said he knew his team couldn’t stop him.

“He’s very, very good, an outstanding athlete,” Muller said. “Since can’t stop him, you have to bend him a little bit.”

Zawadzki made that hard to do when he dropped back to pass Crespo, crossing over the middle, who made the 36-yard touchdown catch. Crespo struck again on a handoff, punching it in for the two-point conversion to trail 21-8 with less than seven minutes left in the second.

Huntington responded when quarterback John Paci hit a hole, broke outside and raced 51 yards down the right sideline before he was forced out at the 14-yard line. Sands finished the play by breaking free of two would-be tacklers and finding the end zone for his fourth touchdown of the game. Sands said he couldn’t take all the credit for the scores.

“My line, they’re excellent,” he said. “They’re my leaders and I can’t say enough about them. They played great; I can’t do it without those guys.”

Smithtown West fumbled the ball four minutes into the third, and Smithtown West running back and linebacker Matthew Caddigan recovered it. Zawadzki scored on a keeper, taking the ball five yards for the only third-quarter score.

“I thought we played a sloppy second half,” Sands said. “But [Smithtown West is] a competitive team.”

The Bulls drop to 2-3 in the Suffolk County Division II standings while the Blue Devils improve to 3-2. Huntington hopes to spoil another homecoming when the Blue Devils travel to Newfield Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. Smithtown West will face off against crosstown rival Smithtown East the same date and time.

by -
0 204
Huntington's Carlos Reyes attempts to settle a pass. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

All the Huntington boys soccer team needed to do was change its offensive strategy after a scoreless first 40 minutes of play to top Copiague, 2-0, on the road Sept. 26, to remain undefeated in League III.

Huntington’s Freddie Amato grabs the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

“You know this is a really good league, and quite honestly, we’ve been lucky in some instances,” Huntington head coach John Pagano said. “We’ve had close games, one-goal games, and any game, even against a team like Copiague [that hasn’t won yet] but are well-coached, we know that we could’ve fallen.”

Copiague spent most of the first half up field, pressing but managing just two shots on goal. Huntington senior goalkeeper Nat Amato was up for the challenge, and made a pair of pedestrian saves to keep Copiague off the board.

Copiague’s goalkeeper returned the favor on the other side, stopping Freddy Amador’s shot after the senior midfielder slipped past a defender on a pass from the middle and fired a shot to the left corner.

Luis Ortiz broke the ice for the Blue Devils in the second half, scoring off a pass from the crowd in front of the Copiague cage at the 29-minute mark. The score changed the tempo of the second half, and Huntington took advantage — spreading out the offense to look for cross opportunities.

Manny Reyes heads the ball over the Copiauge goalkeeper. Photo by Bill Landon

“We pressed more in the second half,” Pagano said. “[Copiague was] laying back with an extra defender, and that made it difficult for us. Once we shifted and stretched them out a little bit it gave us a little bit more passing and running space.”

Opportunity found sophomore forward Carlos Reyes soon after, when he drove in a rebound shot for insurance just over five minutes later.

“It began with the defense and it built from there,” Reyes said of the play. “I thought he was going to cross it in from the far, post but once I saw it start to curve in and then it got past the defender, I was able to get it.”

With the win, Huntington improves to 6-0. Five of the Blue Devil’s wins were one-goal games.

“Our strikers are really fast,” Amador said. “[Copiague is] a really good team. They played really hard for every 50-50 ball, so we have to step up and play hard in every game.”

Huntington is back in action Sept. 28 when the team travels to Smithtown West (4-2) for a 4:30 p.m. game.

Centereach's Eric Russo hurls a pitch from the mound. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Behind solid pitching and timely hitting, the Centereach baseball team was able to hold off Huntington, 6-4, at home April 10, despite back and forth lead changes.

Centereach’s Ryan Mahnke grabs the ball to apply the tag to Huntington’s Steven Napurano. Photo by Bill Landon

Trailing by a run, Centereach third baseman Ryan Mahnke slammed a base-clearing, stand-up double to left center that plated teammates Nick Corsaro and Steve Krauth for a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning.

The Blue Devils countered in the top of the second when Justin Italiano drilled the ball through the gap, and Will Vollack sprinted home to tie the game.

In the next inning, Vollack’s bat cracked again when he sent the ball to right center, scoring Steven Napurano from second, as Huntington retook the lead. With two outs, the Blue Devils looked to stretch their lead with runners at the corners, but the batter was caught looking to end the inning.

After another Mahnke double, first baseman Sean McGuinnes sent the ball into the air, which was carried by the wind to help send Mahnke across home plate to retie the game, 3-3.

“Both teams played hard,” McGuinnes said. “I thought Huntington would be [tough] after their win against West Islip, but we did well today.”

Centereach looked to break the game open, and with an infield hit by Robert Maina that loaded the bases with one out, it seemed as if it could be done. If Luke Eidle, Huntington’s starting pitcher, felt the pressure, he didn’t show it. He retired the Cougars’ next two batters to get out of the jam.

Centereach’s Sean McGuinnes makes contact. Photo by Bill Landon

Huntington right fielder Ethan Copp smacked a pitch deep to right center next, to score. Italiano scored from second base to again take the lead, 4-3, in the top of the fourth.

“They had the timely hits, and we didn’t,” Huntington head coach William Harris said. “We left a lot of runners on base, so it’s a tough loss for us today. It’s a lost opportunity. They had some good pitching today, and that kept them in the game.”

Centereach went back to work countering when Corsaro doubled to start things off. Krauth’s bat spoke next, as the left fielder hit the ball deep, just dropping in to plate Corsaro to retie the game. Despite a Huntington conference on the mound, Mahnke ripped his third stand-up double of the afternoon, driving in Corsaro as Centereach edged ahead 5-4.

“Our team pulled out the win,” Mahnke said. “We hit the ball timely with two outs, and [starting pitcher] Eric Russo did his job and that gave us a chance to win.”

Huntington’s Ethan Copp swings for the fences. Photo by Bill Landon

Centereach designated hitter Brian Honka singled into the gap next to bring Mahnke home for a 6-4 advantage.

Again, Eidle loaded the bases when he walked Maina, but the Blue Devils’ defense rose to the challenge, as all three Cougars were stranded to end the inning.

Centereach’s Ed Bassett relieved Russo, and Huntington fell into new-pitcher jitters, as the Blue Devils laid off the pitcher, which proved costly as he threw strike after strike. Forced to make contact, and with a runner on third, the Blue Devils threatened, but the Cougars’ defense was more than ready.

“Today they came to play — they can hit from No. 1 to No. 9 — they put the bat on the ball,” Centereach head coach Michael Herrschaft said of Huntington. “Eric [Russo] did a gutsy job for us is how I would describe it. Then, Eddie [Bassett] coming in and closing us out throwing strikes — that was big for us — not walking anyone and letting us make a play. He did what he’s supposed to do and that was awesome.”

Centereach traveled to Huntington April 12 for the second game of a three-game series, but results were not available by press time. The two will face off at Centereach again April 15 at 3 p.m.

The 4x400-relay team of Mark Rafuse, Lawrence Leake, Kyree Johnson and Anthony Joseph (on far right) took gold at the Suffolk County state qualifier meet (Jonathan Smith and Brian Pierre have also competed on the relay team). Photo from Huntington school district

When Huntington head coach Ron Wilson and his winter boys’ track and field team stepped into the Suffolk County state qualifier meet at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood, they had one thing on their mind: redemption.

Kyree Johnson crosses the finish line in the 4×400-meter relay. Photo from Huntington school district

And that’s exactly what they felt when they went home.

In the last couple weeks, the Blue Devils had experienced their fair share of shortcomings, notably during its Armory Track Invitational Feb. 3, when senior Shane McGuire, a leg of the team’s 4×400-meter relay, tore his hamstring. The next day, at the large school county championship, the Blue Devils’ top sprinter Kyree Johnson felt a tweak in his own hamstring before competing in the long jump and, at the request of Wilson, sat out of competing altogether.

The team ended up losing the county championship 52-51. Had Johnson jumped that day, they would’ve won, the coach said, but it wasn’t worth the risk.

It was that tight loss that hurt them most, dropping from first to fourth in local published polls — only fueling the fire that would light up the track in Brentwood Feb. 13.

“Before we started, I said to the boys, ‘alright fellas, everyone thinks we’re not as good as we used to be, but we need to go out here and prove them wrong,’” Wilson said. “At the meet, we let everything take care of itself and when we finally started running, I was like ‘redemption at last.’”

That redemption came in the form of collaborative speed and agility.

Smithtown West’s Michael Grabowski with his first-place plaque. Photo by Kevin Redding

Johnson, whose week of resting paid off, placed first in both the 55-meter dash, with a personal best time of 6.41 seconds, and 300 dash, with a meet-record time of 34.8, qualifying him to compete in the state championships March 4 at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex on Staten Island.

“After I won the 55-meter dash and saw my time of 6.41, that made me realize that I’m not hurt anymore,” Johnson said. “I just relaxed and stayed calm, and looked at it like every other meet … because if I didn’t, I’d start making myself nervous, so I just kept thinking ‘it’s just another regular meet.’”

Running the anchor leg, he also helped the Blue Devils take home gold in the 4×400 relay in a time of 3 minutes, 32.15 seconds, along with teammates Lawrence Leake, a senior, Mark Rafuse, an eighth-grader, and Anthony Joseph, a senior. The Huntington teammates will be joining Johnson at the state championship March 4.

Leake, who, according to Wilson, is one of the toughest and hardest working young men he’s ever coached, also placed first in a competition of his own. He took gold in the 600 run and broke the meet record with a time of 1:21.70. The record was previously held by Brentwood’s Greg Santiago, who finished in 1:21.99 in 2000.

Smithtown East’s Daniel Claxton leaps over the bar during a previous competiton. File photo from Daniel Claxton

“During the race, I figured everyone else was going to get out pretty hard the first two laps to make sure I wasn’t going to catch them, so I just stayed close and in striking distance until the last lap and put the pedal to the metal and let it go,” Leake said. “It feels pretty good to have a record beat all by myself.”

Smithtown West senior and state qualifier Michael Grabowski had a similar strategy on his dash to first place in the 3,200 run, which he finished in 9:29.19. Competing against  Jack Ryan of Westhampton Beach and Jonathan Lauer of Sachem North, Grabowski knew he had to play it smart by feeling the race out for the first five laps, and push it for the final sixth.

“I was comfortable with my pace and stuck with Lauer, until Ryan made a move and went past him with about 300 meters to go, and opened the race up,” he said. “As soon as Ryan went past Lauer, I followed Ryan and waited until the last lap and kicked. Once I started my kick, there was no going back and he didn’t really have a chance.”

Marius Sidlauskas of Smithtown East placed third in boys’ 1,600 with a time of 4:29.40; Daniel Claxton of Smithtown East placed first in boys’ high jump with a jump of 6 feet, 10 inches; Elijah Claiborne, Isaiah Claiborne, Tyler Dollhausen and Dan O’Connor of Northport placed first in boys’ 4×800 relay in 8:09.76; and Ryann Gaffney of Huntington placed fourth in girls’ 55 hurdles with a time of 8.75.

Kings Park's Paul Cooper dribbles down the sideline. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Kings Park’s boys’ basketball team nearly doubled Huntington’s second-half score to remain atop the League IV leaderboard with a 69-49 come-from-behind win Dec.30.

The Kingsmen jumped out to an 8-1 lead before the Blue Devils rattled off 15 unanswered points for a 16-8 advantage at the end of the first quarter. Senior Kevin Lawrence netted nine of those points on four baskets and a free throw.

Kings Park clawed back to trail by five with just under four minutes left, a one-point lead minutes after, and senior guard Paul Cooper helped his team take the lead, 23-22, by banking four of six free-throw attempts on fouls.

Kings Park’s Richie Price scores a layup. Photo by Bill Landon

“In that first half we weren’t communicating, and then guys started to talk and make each other accountable,” Cooper said. “So we got on track, and played good defense and that leads to open shots.”

The teams traded scores, and Huntington junior guard Mekhi Harvey let the clock unwind before scoring a field goal, to give the Blue Devils a 26-25 edge heading into the locker room.

Kings Park opened the second half with a different defensive look. The Kingsmen swarmed with a full-court press as Huntington turned the ball over and paid the price each time. Harvey said he wasn’t surprised.

“We don’t take any team lightly’ and their defense was pretty rough going into the second half,” he said.
Kings Park head coach Christopher Rubé said he told his team they might get outplayed, but told the

Kingsmen to make sure they didn’t get out worked. They took it to heart.

“We increased the intensity in the second half,” Rubé said. “We’re 6-1 but I told them ‘you have to earn it every night,’ and I think they got that message.”

Kings Park senior Jeff Li hit a big three-pointer for his first points of the game to put his team back in front, 28-26, and next was senior Richie Price, who scored his third trey of the game. Junior guard Jason Hartglass followed with his third of the game,as the Kingsmen jumped out to a 45-31 lead, and Price struck again from three-point land to put his team out front 48-31.

“When you’re in the zone you’re not thinking about your shot, you’re just letting the game come to you,” Price said. “So when the ball comes to me, I’m not thinking about it, I’m just shooting.”

Kings Park sophomore Andrew Bianco opened the scoring for the final quarter with a three-point play for a 53-35 lead. And Price followed swishing his fifth three-pointer.

Huntingotn’s Kevin Lawrence scores on a rebound. Photo by Bill Landon

Price was splitting time with Liam Thompson before an injury against East Islip the game prior sidelined Thompson. Rubé said he was proud of Price, and happy for his showing. He led the team with 17 points.

“He played great defensively, he had  great energy, played hard on our press, and that spilled over to his offensive game,” he said. “He did a great job.”

Hartglass, who scored 15 points, let one fly from the left corner while getting knocked to the court by a defender, and saw his shot make it while sitting on the floor. Matter-of-factly, he made it a four-point play from the free-throw line.

“We definitely tightened up especially with communication,” Price said. “Not only did we play harder in the second half, we played smarter.”

Huntington had no answer.

“I would say we got more confident as a team,” Huntington junior Michael Abbondandelo said, despite head coach Brian Carey pulling his starters. “We started driving to the hole more and definitely got more rebounds. Our bench definitely earned that — they needed to go in at that point — it was right to put them in.”

With the win Kings Park improves to 7-1 overall and 3-0 in league play. The Kingsmen will face Half Hollow Hills West Jan. 3 at home at 5:45 p.m.

Harvey topped the scoring chart for the Blue Devils with 17 and Lawrence tacked on 14.

With the loss Huntington drops to 2-6 overall and  1-2 in the league and plays West Islip Jan. 3 at home at 5:45 p.m.

League III's No. 1-ranked Bulls tally fourth shutout in last five games

Smithtown West's Andrew McDonnell heads away a Huntington corner kick. Photo by Desirée Keegan

By Desirée Keegan

Brandon Erny has now scored the game-winning goal in four of the last five games for Smithtown West boys’ soccer team.

Smithtown West's Brandon Erny moves the ball through midfield. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Smithtown West’s Brandon Erny moves the ball through midfield. Photo by Desirée Keegan

In the Bulls’ 2-0 victory over Huntington Oct. 10, Erny knocked in Smithtown West’s first goal with 22 minutes left in the first half.

A senior co-captain, Erny made his way through midfield and passed the ball to junior Andrew McDonnell at his left. Erny then booked his way to the top of the box, grabbed the ball back from McDonnell and tapped it into the far left corner for the early advantage, and ultimately his team’s six straight win.

“I just wanted to get the ball up top,” he said. “I made the quick pass to Andrew and wanted to get the ball back as quick as possible. This was an important win today.”

Senior co-captain Aaron Siegel made multiple leaping grabs throughout the first half to preserve his clean sheet.

“I felt good today,” he said. “I was vocal; did really good in the air. All of their chances were basically long throw-ins, which I came out collecting. I was good on the line today and the back row did pretty well too, so that helped a lot.”

Smithtown West's Aaron Siegel makes a leaping save in the Bulls' shutout of Huntington. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Smithtown West’s Aaron Siegel makes a leaping save in the Bulls’ shutout of Huntington. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Huntington senior defender Matthew Gelb, with his mighty throw-ins, gave his team much of their chances at a goal, but the forwards had trouble capitalizing on any opportunities at the net. Huntington junior goalkeeper Nat Amato was also strong between the pipes.

Less than three minutes into the second half, McDonnell received the ball in the first half of Huntington’s zone, and moved it toward Amato — who started coming out of the box — and failed to beat him out as the goalkeeper made the stop. Amato did the same on a rebound opportunity. A minute later after a corner-kick send in, McDonnell got his head on the ball for the 2-0 lead.

Siegel said he knew Huntington was going to be a formidable opponent.

“It’s a tough win every year,” he said. “Huntington is really tough; always challenging. They have a coach over there who gets them energized. They always come at us full speed.”

He said his team stayed focused on Friday during practice to earn the win, his fifth shutout of the season and third at home, and will hope to do the same this Friday when his 10-1 top-seeded team takes on No. 2 Newfield (9-1-1 League III).

Huntington's Matt Gelb heads the ball over a Smithtown West player and into the Bulls' zone. Photo by Desirée Kegan
Huntington’s Matt Gelb heads the ball over a Smithtown West player and into the Bulls’ zone. Photo by Desirée Kegan

Siegel said the game will help them prepare for a postseason push. The co-captains are aiming for the county finals.

“We’re going to get playoff ready — playoff-speed ready — because there’s nothing like playoffs,” Siegel said. “Whether you’re the No. 16 team or the top seed, every team is coming at you, everything team is good and every team is fired up.”

Erny said heading into the matchup that the team will work on its defense against the closely-ranked Wolverines in the hopes that the Bulls can hold it down in the remaining two games against West Islip and Centereach to claim the League III title.

Newfield handed the Bulls their only loss this year. A 2-0 defeat Sep. 17.

“I’m looking for revenge,” Siegel said. “They took one from us on our own field and that’s the only time I’ve ever lost in three years playing here. It’s not going to happen again.”

The Huntington football team jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the second quarter of its homecoming matchup against Centereach, and it proved to be all the Blue Devils needed, as the team held the Cougars scoreless in the first and third quarters to pull away with a 14-9 victory.

Huntington junior running back Sam Bergman rushed three yards for the game’s first touchdown. Huntington sophomore quarterback John Paci Jr. threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Taquan Gooden-Hill in the second quarter, which put Huntington (2-2 in Division II) out in front for good.

Centereach put its first points on the board as the clock wound down in the same stanza, with a 23-yard field goal kick from senior kicker and wide receiver Rob Montgomery. Both teams remained scoreless in the third, and the Cougars held off the Blue Devils in the fourth, but managed to break through in the matchup’s final minutes, when Montgomery caught a 7-yard pass from junior quarterback Jay Morwood for six points. The point-after attempt failed.

Paci was just 1-for-5 for 30 yards and a touchdown under center for Huntington, but senior running back Kei’ron Byrams chipped in, completing two of three attempts for 28 yards. Bergman had 42 rushing yards. Huntington senior running back Jared Leake ran for 103 yards on 17 carries, and junior tight end Anthony McDonald had 10 tackles and a sack. Huntington senior tight end and defensive lineman Josh Hallman had five tackles and a fumble recovery.

by -
0 662
Northport’s Joseph Malico moves the ball while Huntington’s Kevin Gulizio attempts to steal. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Huntington’s Freddy Amador led the way for the Blue Devils Tuesday afternoon with a hat-trick performance that helped his team shut out visiting Northport, 6-0, in the final nonleague game of the season before both teams’ league openers today, Thursday.

Northport's Justin Carrano and Huntington's Kevin Gulizio leap up to head the ball. Photo by Bill Landon
Northport’s Justin Carrano and Huntington’s Kevin Gulizio leap up to head the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

The junior midfielder hit the net first off an assist from senior midfielder Kevin Gulizio three minutes into the contest, and the duo paired up again six minutes later but this time Amador fed Gulizio for the 2-0 lead.

“The weather was a factor, it helped us,” Gulizio said. “We played hard, we came out strong and we finished well, but the key was how we started the first 10 minutes of the game.”

With rain that came down in sheets, along with gusty winds, the conditions on the field proved challenging for both teams. Throw-ins from the sideline blew out of bounds, long kicks stalled in the wind and both teams had trouble finding the net for much of the first half.

Despite the weather, Huntington head coach John Pagano expected it to be a tough matchup.

“We knocked them out of the quarterfinals in the playoffs last year, so we figured it would be a tough game,” he said. “But in fairness to Northport, everybody’s trying to see what they have, so you’re mixing and matching and you coach it a little different than you would in a league game.”

Gulizio’s foot gave his team a three-goal lead as the co-captain’s solo shot found the upper left corner of the goal less than 10 minutes into the second half.

Northport struggled to clear the ball and spent little time near Huntington’s goalkeeper, as the Blue Devils amped up the pressure.

“We didn’t come out here expecting to win 6-0,” Gulizio said. “We expected a hard game — they’re a good team — but we got some early goals and that made it hard for them the rest of the game.”

Huntington sophomore defender Edwin Garcia answered next off a cross from senior co-captain and defender Matt Gelb, to extend the Blue Devils’ advantage to 4-0 lead with 26 minutes left in the game.

Huntington's Josh Yanuck redirects the ball. Photo by Bill Landon
Huntington’s Josh Yanuck redirects the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

Amador drilled a shot unassisted past the keeper for his second goal of the evening, and then scored his hat-trick goal to put the game out of reach.

Unable to score a goal, Northport head coach Don Strasser wasn’t impressed by what he saw of his team.

“We just did not play our best soccer,” he said. “We had an off day — it’s the first time we’ve played on turf this season, but you don’t want to make excuses. And that’s what’s nice about nonleague games, you find your kinks, find what didn’t go right and you try to fix them for the league opener.”

Huntington senior co-captain Mark Rafuse, a defender, said he was surprised by the margin of victory.

“They’re a good team and they came out strong, but they didn’t have a set goalie,” the sweeper said. “So they struggled at that position,” which the Tigers capitalized on.

Northport will travel to Connetquot today, Thursday, for a 4:30 p.m. matchup, and Huntington will host North Babylon at 4 p.m.

Social

4,795FansLike
5Subscribers+1
983FollowersFollow
19SubscribersSubscribe