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PJ Royals Win in Homecoming Blowout

Port Jefferson homecoming football game against Greenport/Southold/Mattituck Oct. 5. Photo by Bill Landon

The weekend of Oct. 4-6 was one of purple and Royals pride. Hundreds swarmed through Port Jefferson during the annual parade, and more gathered in the Joe Erland Field for fun and games, as the Village of Port Jefferson, Port Jefferson School District, Port Jefferson Free Library and local residents combined their efforts to put on a huge blowout celebration.

When it came to the game at 2 p.m. Oct. 5, it was a Royal’s rout when Greenport/Southold/Mattituck came calling and was blown out by Port Jefferson 62-0. From the opening kickoff it was all Port Jeff as wide receiver Aidan Kaminska proved unstoppable as the senior found the end zone three times, along with teammates Luke Verruto and Luke Filippi who each had a pair of touchdowns. Junior Alex Ledesma split the uprights eight times for the extra point.Senior quarterback Sam Florio, who was healthy after missing last week’s game against Mount Sinai, threw for over 250 yards with four TD passes in the Div. IV matchup.

The win lifts the Royals to 2-3 with three games remaining before the post season and are back in action with a road game against Elwood John Glenn Oct. 12. Kickoff is at 1:30pm.

Mount Sinai dominated their homecoming game through three quarters of play out scoring the visiting Royals 33-6 before Port Jeff rallied in the final quarter. Royals’ quarterback Luke Filippi (filling in for the injured Sam Florio) found senior Aidan Kaminska on a pair of short yardage pass plays for his 2nd and 3rd touchdown in the game where the senior set a Section XI record with 17 catches for 233 yards placing him 2nd in total receptions in a single game.

But despite Kaminska’s record the Royals fell to the Mustangs 39-20 Sept. 28.

Mount Sinai sophomore running back Joseph Spallina led the way with a16-yard run, a 23-yard pass reception and an 85-yard interception all finding the end-zone for the Mustangs. Senior quarterback Brandon Ventarola punched in from short yardage, while Matthew LoMonaco scored on a 14-yard pass play and Michael Trepeta found the end-zone on a 3-yard run.

Junior Alex Ledesma’s solid boot put up two PAT’s for the Royals in addition to Kaminska’s record making set of catches.

The win boosts the Mustangs to 4-0, tied with Shoreham Wading River in their division at the season’s halfway point.

The loss puts Port Jeff 1-3 in league. Their next game is set for Oct. 5 for homecoming weekend, where they expect to face Greenport at home with a 2 p.m. start time.

Mount Sinai looks to keep their perfect record intact when they hit the road Oct. 12 to face undefeated Shoreham-Wading River, for sole possession of first place in League IV. Kickoff is at 2 p.m.

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Village, school district, businesses and community come together for new homecoming celebration. Photo by Kyle Barr

“Always a Royal.”

That is how school district and village officials alike are calling present and past residents to attend this year’s homecoming celebration, shifting away from school-centered pride to exulting the whole of Port Jefferson.

The village and district are working hand in hand to create a celebration at Joe Erland Field near Caroline Avenue just west of Barnum Avenue. The celebration will include food, games and music from a DJ, and will take place in between the annual parade that flows down Main Street and the homecoming game set to take place Saturday, Oct. 5.

Port Jefferson homecoming floats make their way through the parade Oct. 21, 2017. File photo by Bill Landon

The change has come in response to district officials last year canceling the annual bonfire. As classic as it was, school district officials said the bonfire was unsafe and a redundant way of gathering school pride. They said it meant children wandering into nearby woods without supervision, adding their own internal pep rally did enough to promote school spirit.

Port Jeff Superintendent Paul Casciano said the bonfire could not continue as it had before, especially considering security and safety.

“We cannot guarantee that when children are dropped off at the high school for this particular night event, that they are in an environment that is safe and secure,” he said. “We are grateful for the conversations that have developed among community members, our board of education members and staff to come up with a carefully considered plan as we move forward.”

Not letting themselves get discouraged, community members looked to celebrate Port Jeff pride, and more than that, bridge the gap between school district, village, shops and community.

Jae Hartzell, a Port Jefferson resident and a local photographer, said many residents were upset the bonfire was canceled, calling it an old tradition. She started looking toward creating something new, perhaps even establishing a new tradition in itself. She and fellow resident Paul Braille have worked alongside school and village officials in crafting the new event.

“[This event] is a really enriching tradition and there’s a huge collaboration to increase school pride and school spirit that will continue for generations,” Hartzell said. “It’s all about creating traditions in the community — a way to stay rooted with your community.”

Along with several food trucks, the field will also be littered with games of Can Jam, Cornhole and giant Jenga, all provided through the Port Jefferson Free Library. There will also be face painting on behalf of the school art department.

Beyond the celebration at surrounding Caroline Avenue, the school district has connected with multiple businesses to emphasize school spirit and the community as a whole, including alumni. PJ Brewery is promoting live music by the band Damaged Goods, while throughout the weekend businesses will be promoting happy hour and brunch specials specifically for alumni. Prohibition Kitchen will also include Mayor Margot Garant as guest bartender Oct. 5. Participating restaurants include Nantuckets, Joey-Z, Prohibition Kitchen, Junior’s Spycoast, Billie’s 1890 Saloon and Old Fields Restaurant, just to name a few.

The Joe Erland Field will play host to an upcomming homecoming celebration. Photo by Kyle Barr

In the first meetings looking to create the new homecoming event, village trustee Kathianne Snaden was brought on board to give the village’s point of view. She said she immediately took to the idea. The village has put up the funds to pay for the food trucks, the DJ, physical and online promotions and has allowed the use of the field. Meanwhile, Port Jeff students will be creating a banner to go up along the football field at the high school, each letter being done by a different grade from Kindergarten through fifth grade, spelling “Royals.” The event, she said, has the possibility of doing much to bridge a gap between village and school district, one that has existed from each entity “doing their own thing.”

“When this came up, I said I wanted to take this up and make this work, because for the village this bridge has been broken for so long for whatever reason,” the trustee said.

“This is the best way to bring that back.”

School board Vice President Tracy Zamek said once the district established there would no longer be a bonfire at homecoming, the idea of bringing the community together in celebration, off school property and hosted by the village, immediately appealed to them. 

“We’re really excited about waking up the village and bringing the school and village together as one entity — as a tight-knit community,” Zamek said.

Those involved said they hope the new event will bring in more people for the annual homecoming game, which all said has had relatively little attendance for the past few years.

In regard to the food trucks, Snaden said the businesses were contacted first to see if they would be available to set up stalls, but according to the trustee none had the correct permits. Having them host specials throughout the weekend was a way in which they could contribute, she said, with Hartzell adding she hoped they may be able to get the permits to participate in the future. 

Festivities start Oct. 4 at the PJ Brewery with Damaged Goods playing at 7 p.m. The following day will include an 11 a.m. parade that rolls down Main Street and crosses over West Broadway onto Barnum Avenue, letting people move onto Joe Erland Field for the days’ activities. The football game is set to kickoff at 2 p.m. Alumni will receive complimentary mimosas at village restaurants for brunch that Sunday, Oct. 6.

Quest to remember the Royals fight song

In preparation for the upcoming homecoming, Port Jeff music staff wanted to bring back the classic “fight song” played at homecoming in the decades past.

However, there was a problem, said Christine Creighton, the middle and high school band teacher. The music sheets were nowhere to be found. 

Mike Caravello, the director of music and fine arts at PJSD, gathered together music teachers from across the district, including Creighton, middle and high school chorus teacher Jeffrey Trelewicz and middle school band teacher Edward Pisano, to find a way to bring back the fight music. 

It came from an unexpected place. One of the security staff at the district, Amy Goldstein, is an alumnus and told the staff she was part of the marching band when she was in school in the ’80s and knew the fight song by heart. It is a jaunty tune, a classic marching theme that’s short and to the point. 

“We’re really excited about waking up the village and bringing the school and village together as one entity — as a tight-knit community.”

— Tracy Zamek

Creighton said Goldstein recorded the song for her. Taking that, she transcribed  it on piano while the music staff helped her with the harmony. They then put it into music writing software. 

They played it back for Goldstein, and she reacted with glee. 

“She said, ‘It’s just like the real thing,’” Creighton said.

Alumni, the music staff said, are “coming out of the woodwork,” to help bring the song back for the upcoming homecoming game. 

“They can all sing the fight song, they know it by heart,” said Caravello.

The middle school marching band will be leading this year’s parade, while the pep band will play the fight song at the end of the midday celebration at Joe Erland Field and during the homecoming game itself. Residents can expect to hear the song Oct. 5.

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Rocky Point senior Dakota Strong leads his team onto the field in a homecoming football game against Amityville Sept. 21. Photo by Bill Landon

Despite three Rocky Point touchdowns being called back on offensive penalties, the Eagles hammered visiting Amityville in a 35-0 shutout victory at their annual homecoming game Sept. 12. Rocky Point running back Devin Cline led his team when he powered his way to the endzone on three superate occasions as the junior carried the ball 15 times covering 170 yards. Quarterback Gavin Davanzo threw for 34 yards on six attempts and found the endzone on a 1-yard run. Matt Sweeney, a junior, punched into the endzone from short yardage while junior Sean Bernhard was perfect on the day splitting the uprights five times.

The win lifts Rocky Point to 2-0 where they blanked Miller Place last week. The Eagle defensive lineup has yet to allow any points against them.

Rocky Point is back in action when they travel to Eastport/South Manor Sept. 28. Game time is at 2:00pm.

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Comsewogue’s football team was relentless in a game at home against Hauppauge Sept. 21, scoring early and not letting up. While the Eagles put in a touchdown in the second quarter and two more in the third, the Warriors kept a consistent tally all the way through the game to finally end it 47-20.

Senior Anthony Cambria had seven receptions, breaking a Long Island record 318 yards, along withfour touchdowns for Comsewogue. Cambria broke the record of 309 set last year by Oceanside’s Jake Lazzaro.

Brady Shannon, a sophomore completed 12 of 16 passes for 350 yards and three touchdowns for the Warriors. Senior Jaden Martinez had 12 carries for 207 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. He opened the scoring with an 88-yard touchdown run in the first. Junior Ryan Minaugh made six tackles, including one sack, for the Warriors.

The win puts Comsewogue 1-1 in league, and the team is set to retake the field against Harborfields Sept. 28. Game time is 1:30 p.m.

All photos by Rudy Gray

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Junior wide receiver Tyler Schwarz breaks to the outside in downing Bayport-Blue Point in the Wildcats opener Sept 6. Photo by Bill Landon

Shoreham-Wading River School District announced it is putting its top coach back on the field.

Varsity football coach Aden Smith, far right, was removed from the team by district officials just before a game against Bayport-Bluepoint Sept. 6. Photo from SWR

In an email release, Superintendent Gerard Poole said they would be reinstating Aden Smith as the head coach of the varsity football team starting back next Monday.

“The district has decided to reinstate the varsity football team’s head coach, effective September 23,” Poole said in a statement. “We are proud of our team which is off to a great start this year.  We thank the assistant coaches who stepped up to lead the team until now, and we look forward to a continued great season.”

Smith was removed from his position after an alleged incident during a pre-season multi-team scrimmage at Islip high school. Players had got involved in what was described as a “scuffle,” and coach Smith had allegedly become involved. At a school board meeting Sept. 13 nearly the entire football team showed up in their jerseys to support the coach, saying his only intent was to defend his players.

“That day of the scuffle, he did nothing but stand up for his players,” team captain and quarterback Xavier Arline said during the board meeting. “If a scuffle is going to happen, we rely on our coach — we expect our coach to come to the rescue. If we can’t count on him, who can we count on?”

Smith, a teacher at the Longwood School District, did not immediately respond to email requests for comment.

While Smith was removed, the two assistant coaches took up the task of running the team, leading them to two convincing wins against Bayport-Blue Point and Port Jefferson.

With the reinstatement date set for Sept. 23, Smith will miss the third game of the season against Southampton set to take place Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. 

Smith will then retake the field Sept. 27 at home in a game against Elwood/John Glenn. Game time is set for 6 p.m.

 

Newfield’s offense struggled early on being held scoreless in the first half in its Division II season opener against visiting Smithtown East Sept. 13. The Wolverines were able to gain traction in the second half, and it was wide receiver Hunter Hughes’ reception from quarterback Maxwell Martin on short yardage to tie the game on the final play of regulation.

After a scoreless first overtime period Martin found Hughes again from 5 yards out when the senior made the catch and again found the end zone for the game winner.

Martin threw for 106 yards on 15 attempts and Eric Dougherty rushed for 46 yards on 7 carries.

The foot of Smithtown East senior Anthony Weidtman had field goals 45, 43 and 42 yards along with 2 points after scores for 11 points.

The Wolverines will look to build on their momentum when they hit the road Sept. 21 against Bellport. Game time is 2 p.m. Smithtown East is also back in action Sept. 21 when they travel to Deer Park for a 1:30 start.

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SWR Senior and football team captain Xavier Arline speaks at Sept. 10 board meeting. Photo by Kyle Barr

Nearly 30 young men in yellow and blue football jerseys sat huddled together in the Shoreham-Wading River High School auditorium Sept. 10 to support their head football coach they said had only wanted to protect their safety.

Varsity football coach Aden Smith, far right, was removed from the team by district officials just before a game against Bayport-Bluepoint Sept. 6. Photo from SWR

SWR’s varsity football coach Aden Smith was effectively suspended from the team Sept. 6 after an alleged “incident” in a preseason scrimmage game against Islip Aug. 30. The board held an emergency meeting discussing a personnel issue the Thursday before. In the Tuesday night meeting, nearly the entire football team sat in support of their coach, asking him to be reinstated.

Section XI’s website said Aug. 30 was a multiteam nonleague scrimmage taking place at Islip High School. Players and parents said the game was largely unsupervised by security staff or referees. Islip school district officials said in a statement it was a “brief scuffle.”

Players painted the picture that players had become violent on the field, and lacking referees, nobody stepped in to break up the unfolding violence except for Smith.

Senior Xavier Arline, team captain and quarterback, gained thunderous applause from attendees in his support of the coach.

“I played many sports over my life, and I’ve had coaches that have cared more about the sport or the result more than their players — coach Smith is not that,” he said. “That day of the scuffle, he did nothing but stand up for his players. … If a scuffle is going to happen, we rely on our coach — we expect our coach to come to the rescue. If we can’t count on him, who can we count on?”

Fellow team captain and senior Mike Casazza echoed his teammate’s words.

“Coach Smith is so invested in our team but at the same time focuses on helping every single one of his players,” he said. “In the summer he sent every kid a letter. He told them what they can improve on and gave us tips as well.”

Other team members said Smith often went above and beyond for his players, including meeting with them off the field or bringing in a person to talk with them about the dangers of drunk driving.

John Arline, Xavier’s father, related back to previous tragedies in SWR football history as to why Smith ran out onto the field that August day.

“When it’s your son lying at the bottom of a pile, who comes to your son’s rescue?” he said. “When it’s your son being hit helmet to helmet, who do we expect to protect them? … [Smith] provided safety and tried to defuse the situation.”

While details on the fight remain fuzzy, Rick Casazza, Mike’s dad, said there was an obvious lack of referee supervision. He added in a play prior to the scuffle an Islip player had pulled his son’s helmet, punched him in the face and grappled with is face mask.

“Coach Smith was the only coach to step in and verbally handle the situation,” he said. 

Players and parents continued on saying Smith had been a mentor to the players, with Casazza’s father saying the coach had shared college prospects with him over the phone.

Board President Michael Lewis said the district would be receiving additional information for their investigation come Friday, including written statements from people there at the scrimmage and advice from attorneys.

“This board is not sitting back,” he said. “We’re making sure we get it right.”

Jeff McAuley, a longtime member of the football and soccer booster club, said Smith has been ostracized due to the news, but on Aug. 30 he was teaching his players to step in and protect those who need it.

“Coach Smith stepped in and protected his players at all costs.”

— Xavier Arline

“If this community has been rocked with tragedy, we have the opportunity here to prevent what I feel is a tragedy,” he said. “He came to the aid of a player. Nowhere are the other coaches being suspended, nowhere are the referees that should have been there, and he’s being ostracized.”

Though as the investigation goes on, the number of weeks left in the season depletes as well. 

The suspended head coach could not be reached for comment. Interim head coach Virgil Romer instead led the team to an opening home victory last Friday against Bayport-Blue Point.

Players did not give a full description of what happened at the game from their point of view. Instead Arline made a statement on behalf of the team.

“Coach Smith stepped in and protected his players at all costs,” he said.

Smith was installed as head coach last year and he helped take SWR past division finals in the 2018 season and to the top-seeded spot in Division IV for this year.

There are about eight weeks left in the season until playoffs. The board nor Superintendent Gerard Poole could give a timeline when the investigation would be concluded.

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Senior quarterback Xavier Arline lunges into the endzone for SWR against visiting Bayport-Blue Point in the Wildcats season opener Sept. 6. Photo by Bill Landon

Senior quarterback Xavier Arline led the Shoreham-Wading River with five touchdowns to power the Wildcats past visiting Bayport-Blue Point 41-7 in the team’s opening game of the season at home. Arline amassed 227 yards on 25 carries delivering interim head coach Virgil Romer his first varsity career win. Romer took the helm after 3year head coach Aden Smith was removed from the roster following an alleged incident Aug. 30 at Islip high school in a multiteam preseason scrimmage.

It was midway through the second quarter before Bayport-Blue Point put points on the board, their only score of the game. SWR sophomore running back Max Barone punched in from short yardage for the score and Jake Ekert, a junior, split the uprights five times in the rout. Outside linebacker Jake Wilson, a junior, was credited with a pair of sacks in the victory. The Wildcats hit the road Saturday, Sept. 14 to take on the Royals of Port Jefferson. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.

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Varsity football coach Aden Smith, far right, was removed from the team by district officials just before a game against Bayport-Bluepoint Sept. 6. Photo from SWR

Shoreham-Wading River’s varsity football coach Aden Smith has been removed from his position in time for tonight’s game after an alleged “incident” in a multi-team scrimmage event in Islip last friday, the district said.

A statement from Superintendent Gerard Poole said Head Coach Smith had been involved in a scrimmage against Islip that took place Aug. 30 at the Islip High School. Section XI’s website said it was a multi-team nonleague scrimmage.

The district did not provide further details on what kind of incident took place.

“While this investigation is underway, the head coach has been removed and the current assistant coaches will be leading the team,” Poole said in the statement.

Smith could not be reached for comment. 

The team was set to play against Bayport-Blue Point’s Phantoms today at 7 p.m. at the SWR high school, and district officials said the game is still on.

Smith was installed as head coach last year and he helped take SWR past division finals in the 2018 season and to the top seed spot in Division IV this year.

The next SWR board of education meeting is set for next Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m.