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Liam McGrath

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Mustangs outscore Bayport-Blue Point 38-16 for homecoming victory

Losing senior halfback JoJo Pirreca to injury last week was a huge blow to Mount Sinai’s football team, but a junior fullback stepped up to fill the void.

Fullback and linebacker Mike Sabella scored four touchdowns, one coming on a 35-yard interception return, and added a fumble recovery to lead the Mustangs (4-2 in Division IV) to a 38-16 homecoming win over Bayport-Blue Point Oct. 14.

Mount Sinai’s Mike Sabella dashes into the end zone for a homecoming touchdown Oct. 14. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“It’s a huge win for us after last week’s loss,” Sabella said. “We came together after losing at home and put up big numbers against a competitive team. We needed someone to step up when our halfback went down, and we had multiple players come ready to contribute.”

Sabella was quick to share credit despite totaling 191 yards rushing on 17 carries and returning a kickoff 80 yards for Mount Sinai’s first touchdown of the day.

“Obviously, nothing is more important than coming out and getting the win,” Sabella said. “The numbers I put up and the plays I make don’t matter unless the end result is a win. It was a bit sweeter knowing I played at a high level, but in the end winning the game is what really matters to the team and I.”

Although Bayport-Blue Point got on the board first, Sabella’s kickoff return to the house was a quick answer.

“Running down the field and beating 11 guys for an 80-yard touchdown, there’s not much you can do in a football game that is more exciting than that,” Sabella said. “Celebrating with my teammates in the end zone was an amazing feeling.”

Mount SInai’s Liam McGrath walks in a touchdown during the homecoming football game Oct. 14. Photo by Desirée Keegan

On his pick-six, which gave Mount Sinai the lead for good at 14-7, Sabella said he dropped back to watch for the slant route, which he said Mount Sinai’s coaches stressed in particular to watch for during practice.

“I saw the quarterback drop, got underneath the receiver’s slant route, and the football got thrown right into my hands,” he said. “Taking that interception to the end zone felt just like that kickoff return; it’s something teams just can’t account for. Those are plays that aren’t supposed to happen, and it felt great to make it happen and take that into the end zone.”

During its week of preparation Mount Sinai focused on Bayport-Blue Point’s potent passing attack. The Mustangs defense caused five turnovers, including additional fumble recoveries by Thomas Bokinz, Kevin Johnston and Antonio Palmiotto to go with Sabella’s two takeaways.

“My team executed the game plan the best we could today, and that result of that showed on the scoreboard at the end of the game,” Sabella said. “All week we focused on Bayport’s throwing game, and we caused a lot of struggles for their offense throughout the game, so credit to the coaching staff. On offense, we had a great performance from the linemen, which led to success in the running game. When we execute the game plan we set during the week, we are a very difficult team to deal with.”

Mount Sinai’s Thomas Bokinz holds back a tackler to protect his running back during the homecoming football game Oct. 14. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Mount Sinai junior running back Liam McGrath rushed for 72 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries to officially put the game out of reach. He said the continued support from the audience helped carry him into the end zone.

“It felt great to play in front of the town,” he said. “From the opening touchdown the crowd brought great energy to the team and it definitely set the tone for the rest of the game.”

Sabella said seeing his squad come away with the total team win is a big confidence booster for the important games ahead. Mount Sinai travels to Miller Place (5-1) Oct. 20 for a 6 p.m. game. The Panthers are fresh off a homecoming win of their own over previously undefeated Shoreham-Wading River. The Mustangs will head to Greenport (0-6) Oct. 27 for the final game of the season, currently scheduled for 6 p.m.

“Knowing we have two games left to play in this year’s regular season and we’ve already passed last years win total makes me feel great about our team going forward,” Sabella said. “We’re gaining momentum at the right time, and we’re going to continue to get better every week for playoffs. I believe if we continue on the path we’ve set ourselves on, we can really make some noise this postseason.”

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By Bill Landon

The Mount Sinai Mustangs made short work of visiting East Hampton-Bridgehampton on the football field Saturday afternoon, shutting out the Bonackers, 33-0, in a victory that was icing on the cake for the host team’s homecoming celebration.

It was a lopsided game after Mount Sinai scored its fourth unanswered touchdown, and rather than kick the extra point, the Mustangs took a knee to arrest the scoring fest at 27-0.

Mount Sinai head coach Vinnie Ammirato rested his starters and flushed his bench, as every available player on his 35-man roster saw action the rest of the way.

On their first possession of the game, the opposing team was forced to punt on three and out.

With the game less than two minutes old, Mount Sinai senior running back Christian Knab fielded the ball then found a hole, bounced to the outside and went the distance for the score. With the extra point, the Mustangs took the early 7-0 lead.

“We played our hardest — everyone played their best,” Knab said. “We came out and we did what we’re supposed to do.”

The Bonackers, fielding just 18 players and losing two to injury during the game, used every available player on their bench out of necessity. Again, unable to move the chains, the opposing team was forced to punt.

Mount Sinai senior wide receiver Griffin McGrath went 64 yards for the next touchdown, and after another East Hampton-Bridgehampton three and out, junior wide receiver Jake Knab fielded a clean ball and took it all the way down the stretch for the team’s third touchdown.

“I caught the ball and there was a good wall set up [in front of me so] I followed the wall,” McGrath said. “And it was clear all the way to the end zone.”

Jake Knab took over at quarterback for junior R.J. Maher the rest of the way.

“This game was unusual — first string starters usually come out and sometimes second string goes in,” Knab said. “Today was a fun game for me because I rarely play.”

Early in the second quarter, Mount Sinai junior running back John Paolella plowed up the middle to find the end zone for another six points.

“We played well all around and second teamers got their chance today,” Paolella said. “It was a chance to play at homecoming and we made the most of it.”

As the kicking team took to the field for the point-after attempt, Ammirato barked the play from the sideline, and the Mustangs lined up as if they were going for two, but took a knee to keep the score 27-0.

“We don’t want to score anymore,” Ammirato said from the sideline. “Let’s keep the score reasonable.”

The Mustangs non-starters couldn’t control themselves, and freshman running back Liam McGrath, who was brought up from the junior varsity squad to play in the game, was not to be stopped as he raced with the ball down the left sideline for the final touchdown of the afternoon. Choosing not to attempt the point after, Mount Sinai again took a knee to hold the score at 33-0.

With the win, the Mustangs improve to 6-1, vying for second place in League IV with John Glenn. The Mustangs will battle John Glenn on the gridiron Saturday in the last game of the regular season, to break the tie.

“Everyone is going to work their hardest and put in the extra work in practice,” Christian Knab said, for his Mustangs team to be able to top John Glenn. “And we’ll have to see what happens on Halloween.”

Ammirato said that the best part of the homecoming win is that everyone on his bench saw action.

“Just getting everyone in the game — I love when that happens,” the head coach said. “These kids come to practice every day and work just as hard sometimes they get in the game sometimes they don’t, and today they got a chance to play some quality minutes at homecoming in front of a big crowd; getting their names announced.”

Ammirato said that because the junior varsity game was cancelled, it presented an even bigger opportunity, bringing up some sophomores and freshman that saw some action, too.

Griffin McGrath is ready to see his team claim the No. 2 spot.

“We’ll have to work hard in practice this week and watch film,” he said. “And we’ll have to execute the coaches’ game plan to the letter.”