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Joe Galotti

The Harborfields boys’ basketball team gathers in a circle before its matchup against Elmont in the Class A Long Island Championship game on March 6 where the Tornadoes fell short, 39-32. Photo by Joe Galotti

By Joe Galotti

It has been without a doubt a memorable winter for the Harborfields boys’ basketball team. But on Sunday afternoon, the Tornadoes suffered a rather disappointing finish to their season, that they will hope to soon forget.

Harborfields senior Malcolm Wynter, who scored seven points, dribbles the basketball between his legs. Photo by Joe Galotti
Harborfields senior Malcolm Wynter, who scored seven points, dribbles the basketball between his legs. Photo by Joe Galotti

Harborfields fell to Elmont, 41-32, in the Long Island Class A Championship matchup at Long Island University, denying the team a chance to compete for a New York State title. The Tornadoes were ice cold from the field down the stretch, failing to register a point during the final 11 minutes of the contest.

“We couldn’t score, it’s as simple as that,” Harborfields head coach John Tampori said. “We tried everything, but the ball wouldn’t go down. Layups, jump shots, it just didn’t happen for us. It was a tough, hard-fought game, and we came up short.”

Senior Rob Pecorelli led the Tornadoes with 10 points in the game. Senior Malcolm Wynter added seven points, while junior Kyle Stolba registered two 3-pointers.

Harborfields’ lineup was without junior big man Alex Merhige, who sat out due to an arm injury. The club seemed to feel the impact of his absence on both sides of the court in the title matchup.

“Any time you’re missing your tallest guy it hurts,” Tampori said. “He means so much to us back there. He can score inside for us, and we missed him terribly.”

The Tornadoes and Spartans have both been dangerous offensive teams this season. But, in their meeting on Sunday, points seemed to be hard to come by for both squads.

Harborfields senior Alex Bloom holds the ball on offense. Photo by Joe Galotti
Harborfields senior Alex Bloom holds the ball on offense. Photo by Joe Galotti

From the start, the game proved to be a physical battle, with players unafraid to bang bodies down low in the paint. Elmont jumped out to an early eight-point lead, but Harborfields managed to battle back and trail only 22-21 at the halftime break.

Early on in the third quarter, Wynter scored back-to-back baskets, putting his team up by four. Elmont senior Jalen Burgess then responded with three consecutive buckets of his own, helping Elmont end the quarter on a 10-4 run, and take a two-point advantage into the final stanza.

Over the game’s final eight minutes, a packed bleacher full of Tornadoes fans kept on waiting for their team to get hot from the outside, and the team started draining shots like they had all season long. But Harborfields could not get anything to fall in the fourth, as the Spartans’ suffocating defense forced them into difficult shot after difficult shot.

Helping Elmont pitch a shutout in the game’s final quarter was the zone defense it deployed. On Jan. 16, the Spartans allowed 61 points to Harborfields in a loss. But that was before the team made the switch to its new defensive strategy.

Harborfields senior Robert Pecorelli, who scored a team-high 10 points, attempts to dribble past the Elmont defender in front of him while senior Danny Morgan sets a pick. Photo by Joe Galotti
Harborfields senior Robert Pecorelli, who scored a team-high 10 points, attempts to dribble past the Elmont defender in front of him while senior Danny Morgan sets a pick. Photo by Joe Galotti

“When we played them earlier in the year, we didn’t play any zone,” Elmont head coach George Holub said. “Midway through the year, we started playing zone, and it suits these guys.”

The Spartans, who earned their program’s first Long Island Championship, go on to play Byram Hills in the New York State semifinals on Saturday.

Despite the deflating ending to their season, Harborfields still finishes the year with an impressive 19-3 record and a Suffolk County small school title under its belt. The Tornadoes also had the rare experience of winning 19 consecutive games. After the loss to Elmont, Tampori was quick to praise his senior-heavy group.

“I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve never been more proud of any team I’ve been around,” he said. “They always gave me all they got.”

Smithtown West’s Sarah Harrington dribbles inside against Lady Cougars sophomore Abby Blount. Photo by Joe Galotti

By Joe Galotti

On Tuesday night, the Centereach girls’ basketball team gave its five seniors the spotlight, honoring the players in a pre-game ceremony before the club’s regular season finale. But, late in the game’s fourth quarter, it was a senior from visiting Smithtown West that stole the show.

Senior forward Mackenzie Heldberg converted a key floating jump shot with under a minute to go, to help her team secure a 47-44 victory over the Cougars.

“You can count on Mackenzie whenever the game is on the line,” Smithtown West head coach Katie Combs said. “She put that little floater in that sealed the game for us, and it’s a testament to her as a player.”

Also helping the Bulls steal a win on Centereach’s senior night were juniors Gabby Horman and Sarah Harrington. The duo combined for 24 points and 20 rebounds in the contest.

Junior Cassidy Treanor and senior Lauren Meigel both reached double-digit points for the Cougars in the game. But, according to Centereach head coach James Steigele Jr., his team did not play collectively, and shoot well enough from the field to come away victorious.

“Our defense was good, and we rebounded well,” he said. “But they were hitting their shots, and we unfortunately weren’t tonight. We had good looks, too.”

Smithtown West’s Gabby Horman moves into the paint against Centereach’s Lauren Meigel. Photo by Joe Galotti
Smithtown West’s Gabby Horman moves into the paint against Centereach’s Lauren Meigel. Photo by Joe Galotti

Even with their inconsistent shooting, the Cougars still held a 32-29 lead with 4:30 remaining in the third quarter. But Smithtown West finished out the stanza strong, ending the quarter on a 10-0 run. Harrington helped spark her team, forcing multiple turnovers and frequently making her way to the basket on offense.

The Bulls took a seven-point lead into the final quarter, and seemed poised to run away with the contest. Centereach would have none of that, as the team quickly worked its way back into striking distance. With 1:28 left in regulation, Meigel hit a layup that trimmed Smithtown West’s lead to just one point.

At this point, all of the momentum seemed to be on the Cougars’ side, but the Bulls managed to stay composed.

“We faced a lot of adversity tonight in the second half, but we just kept pressing harder,” Harrington said. “We knew we had to play defense to win the game.”

Centereach was held off the scoreboard in the game’s final minute, and Heldberg’s late basket helped stabilize things for Smithtown West. On the Cougars’ final possession, the team’s comeback hopes were officially ended by a Horman blocked shot.

“This game wasn’t the cleanest you could’ve watched, but the girls that I coach have a tremendous amount of resolve,” Combs said. “I really appreciate the efforts they gave tonight.”

Despite the loss, Centereach still put together a memorable senior night. Before tip-off, Steigele Jr. took to the microphone and shared kind words about seniors Meigel, Erica Medina, Alyssa Sokolowski, Nicole Fellone and Katrina Gangji.

“That moment meant a lot,” Gangji said. “I’ve played on this team for three years and my teammates mean so much to me. It’s meant a lot being a Centereach Cougar, and the fact that it’s almost over is really upsetting.”

Fellone, who tore her ACL in a recent game against North Babylon, was given a chance to start, at the request of the team’s players and their parents. In a great showcase of sportsmanship, the Bulls allowed Fellone to record a layup, before she exited her final regular season contest to cheers from the crowd.

Both teams will quickly move on from the emotions of Tuesday’s matchup, as postseason play gets underway. Harrington said after Smithtown West’s victory, that the club is feeling good about itself entering playoff action.

Steigele Jr. also seems to have plenty of faith in his squad.

“We’re definitely confident going into the playoffs,” he said. “Our team was able to get to this point for a reason.”

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The Newfield football team poses for a group photo after defeated MacArthur, 41-33, for the Long Island Class II title on Nov. 27 at Hofstra University. Photo by Joe Galotti
Newfield’s Elijah Riley, Joe Saladino, Nick Favaloro, Steven Hoynacky and Isaiah Israel pose with the Long Island Class II football championship trophy after defeating MacArthur, 41-33, on Nov. 27 at Hofstra University. Photo by Newfield High School Video Club
Newfield’s Elijah Riley, Joe Saladino, Nick Favaloro, Steven Hoynacky and Isaiah Israel pose with the Long Island Class II football championship trophy after defeating MacArthur, 41-33, on Nov. 27 at Hofstra University. Photo by the Newfield High School Video Club

By Joe Galotti

Newfield has not faced much adversity this fall. The team entered this year’s Long Island Class II football championship game with an 11-0 record, and had yet to be truly challenged on their quest for a perfect season.

On Friday night at Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium, the Wolverines were finally tested.

After holding a 20-point advantage over MacArthur at halftime, Newfield quickly saw its lead evaporate to just a single point before the end of the third quarter. But Wolverines senior wideout Elijah Riley refused to let his team lose on this night, running for two touchdowns in the contest’s final quarter to power his team to a 41-33 victory.

“Eli’s been our lightning guy all year,” Wolverines head coach Joe Piccininni said. “He just comes out and makes things happen for us when you least expect it.”

Thanks to Riley’s heroics, Newfield earned its first Long Island Championship since 2011. Senior quarterback Ryan Klemm was excited that the team was able to not only bring the title back to their school, but also record the program’s first ever perfect season.

“It’s awesome,” Klemm said. “They always refer to the 2011 team, and we wanted to do something better — something that they didn’t do. So 12-0 was definitely the goal.”

The Wolverines got off to a quiet on the gridiron, as MacArthur held Newfield’s explosive offense scoreless in the game’s opening 12 minutes. Senior halfback Vin Martino gave the Generals an early 7-0 lead, with a nine-yard touchdown run.

In the second quarter, the Wolverines began to take over.

Newfield’s players stand behind a banner that reads "Let’s Make H15tory" which the Wolverines did, with a 41-33 win over MacArthur for the Class II Long Island championship title and the first undefeated season in program history on Nov. 27 at Hofstra University. Photo by Joe Galotti
Newfield’s players stand behind a banner that reads “Let’s Make H15tory” which the Wolverines did, with a 41-33 win over MacArthur for the Class II Long Island championship title and the first undefeated season in program history on Nov. 27 at Hofstra University. Photo by Joe Galotti

First, Riley got his team on the board with a six-yard touchdown run. Then Klemm left his mark on the championship game, connecting on touchdown passes with senior wide receiver Jelani Greene, senior running back Denzel Williams and senior tight end Austin Gubelman before halftime.

Up 27-7 entering the third, Newfield seemed to have their Class II title wrapped up. But, the Generals were prepared to go down fighting, beginning the second half by recovering an onside kick. Shortly after, Martino found the end zone to make it a 13-point game. MacArthur attempted another onside kick, and once again gained possession. Martino followed that up with his second touchdown in a span of just 34 seconds.

Later in the quarter, MacArthur senior quarterback Jimmy Kelleher threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to senior wideout Jared Wolfe. The ensuing extra-point attempt was missed, but the Wolverines’ lead fell to just 27-26.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” Klemm said. “They’re a great team, and we knew we’d have to face adversity eventually, and it came tonight.”

Riley added, “Nobody gets flustered. Everyone knows they have another chance to get the job done and do what they have to do to finish their assignment.”

Nick Adler hugs his new fiancée on the field after proposing following Newfield's 41-33 win over MacArthur for the Wolverine's Long Island Class II championship title. Photo by Joe Galotti
Nick Adler hugs his new fiancée on the field after proposing following Newfield’s 41-33 win over MacArthur for the Wolverine’s Long Island Class II championship title. Photo by Joe Galotti

In the fourth quarter, Riley was able to right the ship for his team. He first provided an eight-yard touchdown run. Then, with 2:49 remaining in regulation, scored on a 30-yard rush, to extend Newfield’s lead to 15 points.

MacArthur added a late touchdown, but failed to pull any closer, as Riley recovered the Generals final onside kick attempt and took a knee just shy of another touchdown, despite any player being within 15 yards of the senior.

“MacArthur did an outstanding job of preparing for us and playing against us,” Piccininni said, “They left their hearts out on the field. They really pushed us to our limits today, but our kids overcame it.”

Also leaving his heart out on the field after the game was Wolverines assistant coach Nick Adler. He proposed to his girlfriend after the team was presented with their championship trophy. And when she said yes, the Wolverines were left with a storybook ending to their perfect season.

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Senior running back Chris Rosati rushes away with four touchdowns in team's 24th win in two seasons

By Joe Galotti

Most young men who decide to put on a helmet and pads and play high school football never get to experience the joy of winning a class championship or putting together a perfect season. On Friday afternoon, at Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium, the Shoreham-Wading River football team had the rare opportunity to reach both of those achievements for a second straight season, and did not let it go to waste.

The Wildcats jumped out to a 28-point first-half lead over Locust Valley, helping them come away with a 35-7 victory in the Long Island Class IV Championship game. Senior running back Chris Rosati led the way with four rushing touchdowns, and the team’s eye-popping winning streak was extended to 24 games.

“(Going undefeated twice) is very special,” Shoreham-Wading River head coach Matt Millheiser said. “It really was something I wanted them to achieve and carry with them, and they did that today.”

After the victory, Rosati admitted that the team felt pressure all season long trying to repeat last fall’s undefeated campaign.

“Every team was looking to beat us,” Rosati said. “We got everyone’s best game, but we just really fought hard against every team we faced.”

If the Wildcats were at all nervous on Friday, they did not show it, as they jumped all over the Falcons early on, putting up two quick scores on the team that had entered the contest allowing the fewest points on Long Island this year.

Rosati got Shoreham-Wading River on the board when he capped off the team’s opening drive by taking a pitch to the right side 26 yards for a touchdown. On the Wildcats next drive, Rosati delivered a two-yard rushing touchdown, which was set up by a 31-yard run by senior wideout Jon Constant.

Early in the second quarter, Rosati drove his way into the end zone once again, this time, on a 1-yard rush.

“Chris is amazing,” senior guard Dalten Stalzer said. “Just watching him play every week; it’s crazy. Some of the things he does and the tackles he breaks, it makes us look good.”

With 1:24 remaining before the half, senior quarterback Jason Curran put the game out of reach with a six-yard touchdown pass to Constant.

Shoreham-Wading River was extremely effective on the ground in the game, with Rosati rushing for 110 yards, Curran rushing for 91 yards and Constant rushing for 90 yards. Much of this was made possible by a dominant performance from the team’s offensive line.

“We knew what we needed to do to execute,” Constant said. “But [our success] all starts with our line’s performance.”

The Wildcats’ defense also put up a strong effort, forcing three interceptions and not giving up a score until the fourth quarter. Constant was responsible for two of the picks, while Rosati had the other.

With another perfect season in the books, Shoreham-Wading River is arguably in the midst of one of the best runs in Long Island high school football history. But Millheiser says that the key to the Wildcats’ success has been not getting caught up in any of the streaks or stats.

“We were more concerned about doing our jobs and doing the right thing,” Millheiser said. “When you focus on those things the fun numbers like 24-0 seem to come with it.”

During Shoreham-Wading River’s postgame team photo with its championship trophy, the team once again got the opportunity to honor the memory of their former teammate Tom Cutinella, who died as a result of an on-field collision in a 2014 game. Senior lineman James Puckey held up Cutinella’s No. 54 jersey for the group shot, making it clear that he was still very much a part of the Wildcats team.

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Northport senior wide receiver John Tabert makes a diving catch in a previous game. File photo by Bill Landon

By Joe Galotti

After losing a perfect season in last year’s playoffs, No. 2 seeded Longwood looked like a team on a mission in their return to the Suffolk Division I semifinals on Friday night. Visiting No. 3 Northport allowed the Lions to strike for 14 points in the game’s opening minutes, and was never able to recover from the early blow, falling 48-21.

Northport senior quarterback Andrew Smith passes the ball up the middle in a previous game. File photo by Bill Landon
Northport senior quarterback Andrew Smith passes the ball up the middle in a previous game. File photo by Bill Landon

The loss not only marked the end of the 2015 season for the Tigers, but also the finish of the high school careers of many of the team’s key offensive players. Quarterback Andrew Smith, running back Dan Preston, fullback Rob Dosch, wideout John Tabert, center James Clemente and guard Rob Fontana will be moving on this spring.

“With all the struggles and all the work that we put in over the season, it’s tough coming to the end,” Preston said. “We gave it our all to get to the Long Island Championship, but we came up short.”

Northport dug itself an early hole in the contest, allowing a 75-yard touchdown run to junior Latrell Horton on Longwood’s first play from scrimmage. Then, on the Tigers next possession, Smith was intercepted by senior cornerback Mike Linbrunner, who proceeded to run the ball into the end zone to make it 14-0.

Later in the opening quarter, Longwood’s offense was deep in Lions’ territory, threatening to expand their early lead even further. But, Northport forced a fumble, which junior linebacker Andrew Havrilla was able to recover.

The play seemed to help settle things down for the Tigers, and the team was able to cut into the Lions’ lead soon after. Just seven seconds into the second quarter, Preston reached the end zone on a 7-yard touchdown rush, trimming Longwood’s advantage to 14-7.

“We showed our pride,” Preston said. “We’re not the type of team to just give up and lie down.”

With 7:40 remaining in the second, the Lions expanded their lead back to 14, when senior halfback Tahj Clark ran 31 yards for a touchdown.

But Northport continued to show fight, and with 4:41 remaining before the half, was able to pin the Tigers down in their own end zone and come away with a safety. Havrilla once again was responsible for a crucial play, this time making the tackle in the end zone.

Northport senior fullback Rob Dosch rushes up the field with the ball in a previous contest. File photo by Bill Landon
Northport senior fullback Rob Dosch rushes up the field with the ball in a previous contest. File photo by Bill Landon

With 1:48 left in the second quarter, Smith made it a 21-15 game, when he connected Tabert for a touchdown.

The Lions added another touchdown before the end of the half, but Northport still found itself within striking distance entering the third quarter.

“After they scored early on in the game, I was happy with the way we were able to fight through like we always do,” Smith said.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, it would be all Longwood in the second half. Clark added two more touchdown runs, to help give his team a commanding lead.

Dosch provided Northport’s only score in the final 24 minutes, registering a four-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

The Lions move on to the Suffolk Division I finals to face off with No. 1 Lindenhurst at Stony Brook University. The Tigers meanwhile, finish with a 6-4 record.

There was plenty of emotion on the Northport sideline after the loss, knowing that this was the end for many of the team’s leading players.

“We had a good season,” Smith said. “It’s been a long one, and we fought through a lot. I’m proud of this team and what we were able to do.”

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Senior running back Bryan Hurley and sophomore running back Kai Cochrane each run for over 120 yards for the Warriors in the loss

By Joe Galotti

Coming off back-to-back blowout losses, the Comsewogue football team showed plenty of fight in their homecoming matchup against Hauppauge Saturday, but ultimately came up short on the scoreboard, falling 35-21. Senior running back Bryan Hurley and sophomore running back Kai Cochrane each ran for over 120 yards for the Warriors in the loss.

“We dug ourselves a hole with turnovers in the first half,” Comsewogue head coach Sean Tremblay said. “We battled back into the fourth quarter, but some untimely penalties and poor third and fourth down defense really cost us.”

The Warriors also lost starting junior defensive end Andy Suarez for the season in the game, after he suffered a broken leg in the third quarter. Suarez marks the fifth starter Comsewogue has seen go down with a season-ending injury this year.

“We’ve been playing with a lot of guys that at the beginning of the season weren’t starters,” Tremblay said. “But to the kids’ credit, they’re still fighting.”

After falling behind early in their previous two games, the Warriors did the same against the Eagles. Hauppauge opened the game’s scoring in the first quarter with a 5-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Thomas Balcom to  wide receiver Dominic Paresi. In the second quarter, Balcom and Paresi connected in the end zone again, this time, on a 10-yard reception.

Hurley got Comsewogue back in the game with a 1-yard rushing touchdown, cutting the Eagles lead to just 14-7 at the halftime break.

“All eleven guys [on offense] played their hearts out on every play,” he said. “Our line was able to get a great push, and when our backs weren’t running the ball, we blocked for each other.”

After a scoreless third quarter, Hauppauge’s star running back, Marcus Bisono, began to take over the game. The senior delivered a 15-yard and 10-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The running backs for the Warriors also stepped up in the final 12 minutes of the game. Hurley and Cochrane each registered a touchdown run as Comsewogue trailed by just seven points late in the contest.

But, the duo of Balcom and Paresi would come up big again for the Eagles. Balcom delivered a 60-yard touchdown pass to his wideout, a play that would secure the win for Hauppauge.

While the Warriors defense as a whole struggled to contain the Eagles, Tremblay said senior defensive back Austin Haynia was a standout in the game. The senior defended two passes, and came up with several key tackles. Tremblay also liked what he saw from Suarez, before he exited the game.

On the flip side of the ball, Comsewogue’s head coach was very pleased with what his team was able to do on the ground.

“If there’s any silver lining to losing the game, it’s that we ran the ball very well,” Tremblay said. “I was happy offensively.”

Cochrane agreed.

“The offensive line did a great job getting off the ball quickly and creating holes so our backs could make the right cuts and get first downs,” he added.

The Warriors’ fan base showed their passion for the team on Saturday. Even with Comsewogue entering its homecoming weekend without a win, the school’s supporters created an exciting atmosphere for the game.

“The community is fantastic; they always come out and support,” Tremblay said. “With us entering the game at 0-4, it would have been easy for them just to stay home, or just do the parade and go home. But, they all came to the game and cheered us on till the very end.”

Even at 0-5 in Division III, the season is far from over for the Warriors. Entering as the No. 7 seed will help Comsewogue’s standing come playoff time, and if the team is able to win at Harborfields next week, and come away with a win in one of its final two games against highly ranked and undefeated Sayville and East Islip, a postseason berth would still be a possibility.

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By Joe Galotti

The Smithtown East football team’s defense gave an admirable effort in the school’s homecoming game Saturday afternoon, but in the end could not do enough to help the Bulls earn their first victory of the season. Visiting Copiague scored only once in regulation, but still came away with a 14-8 win, thanks to an overtime rushing touchdown by junior quarterback Ronald James.

“From top to finish it was the best game we’ve played all year long,” Smithtown East head coach Chris Denton said. “The result was tough — having to end the game like that, especially on homecoming, but our defense played a great game.”

Even with wet and windy weather conditions, Smithtown East was able to draw a large crowd of students and parents for the school’s homecoming festivities, but on the field, the Bulls did not give their fans much to cheer about in the first half, as the team’s offense struggled to move the ball up field. Both defenses were sharp through the first two quarters though, resulting in a scoreless game at the half.

The contest’s first points came 4:11 into the third quarter, when Eagles junior running back J’Quan Brown delivered a 7-yard rushing touchdown. James then connected on a pass to junior tight end Tyrone Browne on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt, to give Copiague an 8-0 advantage.

Smithtown East provided a quick response to the Eagles strike. With 6:01 remaining in the third, sophomore running back Lauden Hendricks broke a 70-yard touchdown run, giving his team a much needed spark. The sophomore was able to find a hole on a rush up the middle of the field, and once he found an opening, used his speed to race into the end zone.

“It was a trap right call,” Hendricks said. “It was a perfect blocking scheme and a perfect block that got me up to the second level. Then I just had to run it.”

Denton was not surprised by Hendricks’ highlight-worthy run, and said that his team has seen that level of play from him before.

“Lauden is a fantastic athlete,” Denton said. “Once he gets hot, he gets really hot. And then we just let him run the ball.”

The Bulls tied the game at 8-8 when junior quarterback Anthony Voelker found sophomore wide receiver Andrew Durland in the end zone for the two-point conversion.

After the two quick scores, the game returned to being a defensive struggle. The Eagles threatened to score in the final minute of regulation, but Smithtown East’s defense held strong, forcing overtime.

In the extra period, each team was given a chance to start a drive at their opponent’s 20-yard line. The Bulls got possession first, and nearly punched the ball into the end zone, but were denied when Copiage senior linebacker Dylan Dixon forced a Smithtown East fumble just shy of the goal line. The Eagles recovered the loose ball.

On the fifth play of Copaige’s ensuing drive, James faked to his running back and ran three yards to the outside for the game-winning touchdown.

While the Bulls defense was unable to avoid a frustrating defeat, Hendricks still was pleased with the unit’s effort.

“I think our defense played as good as we have all year,” he said. “There were just certain moments where we gave up the big play, and were just in bad situations.”

Smithtown East will look for better results in the second half of their 2015 campaign, beginning this Saturday, when the Bulls travel to Half Hollow Hills East for their opponent’s homecoming at 1:30 p.m.

By Joe Galotti

On Saturday afternoon, the Smithtown West football team found the end zone a half dozen times before halftime, and put an exclamation mark on the school’s homecoming weekend festivities with a 48-28 victory over Centereach. The Bulls improved to 3-0 on the season, and were able to celebrate Smithtown’s 350th anniversary in style.

“This was just another step in the right direction,” Smithtown West head coach Pete Cerullo said. “The offense and defense executed the way they were supposed to. It was a great win, and I’m proud of our team.”

Senior quarterback Daniel Caroussos led the Bulls’ offensive assault in the game, doing plenty of damage with both his arm and his legs. The senior threw for a touchdowns and 163 yards, and ran for 74 yards and three touchdowns.

“This week of practice we prepared well,” Caroussos said. “The scout team gave us a great look. We knew what they were going to come out with.”

Centereach senior quarterback Nick Juvelier also put together a memorable day. He completed 24 of 40 passes, and threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns.

“I got to give credit to my receivers, really,” Juvelier said. “I just got a lot of playmakers around me.”

Centereach senior wide receivers Justin Eck and Mark Pirollo, and junior wide receiver Rob Montgomery all finished with touchdown receptions for Cougars on the day. Even though the team found success through the air, it was Smithtown West that was in control, from nearly start to finish.

Junior running back James Caddigan Jr. opened the scoring for the Bulls with a 7-yard touchdown run just 3:53 into the game. With 1:40 remaining in the opening quarter, Caddigan Jr. struck again, this time, with a 12-yard rushing touchdown.

Before the end of the first, Caroussos broke the game open for Smithtown West with a 25-yard rushing touchdown on a keeper play, which gave the Bulls a 21-0 advantage.

In the second quarter, Caroussos threw and ran for a touchdown. Smithtown West also scored on an interception by senior linebacker Daniel Varello, which he returned 25 yards to the end zone. The Bulls took a healthy 34-point lead into halftime.

The Cougars did manage to show signs of life in the second half, outscoring their opponent 21-7 in the game’s final 24 minutes. Despite the final score, Centereach head coach Adam Barrett still has of faith in his team moving forward.

“We were 2-0 before we came into this game, and we know what it takes to win,” Barrett said. “Now we got to get back on track.”

The Cougars will look for a bounce-back performance, when they host Half Hollows Hill East this Saturday at 2 p.m. Meanwhile, red-hot Smithtown West will be back at Robert W. Pratt Field this Friday night, when they welcome No. 2-seeded Riverhead. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m., and Caroussos said his team will be ready for the challenge.

“This game was a huge confidence booster for us, especially going into next week,” he said. “That’s going to be a great competition for us. We’re expecting that to be a great game.”