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Adam Barrett

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Devin Demetres rushes with the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Centereach threatened to retie the game late in the fourth quarter, but a costly interception halted the Cougars march down the field, and with that, went the football team’s chance to compete in the Division II finals. Centereach fell to North Babylon 14-7 in the county semifinals Nov. 10.

Chris Witherspoon leaps up in an attempt to intercept a North Babylon pass. Photo by Bill Landon

The Cougars had a historic run, opening the season on a five-game winning streak and completing the season with an 8-2 record.

Centereach head coach Adam Barrett said the transformation of his team  to finally become a playoff contender was due to several factors.

“The players have really committed to the offseason program and took the necessary steps to improve each year, which was key,” he said. “Having leaders that want to be the best they can be, and never settling has really helped the younger kids contribute. Having a great core of young coaches that bought into the program and the system that I brought here and having them relate to the kids is a big factor as well.”

On their opening possession, the North Babylon Bulldogs began a march down the field from deep inside their own territory, leaning on running back David Estrella. They ground out yardage and sustained the drive until ultimately finding the end zone on short yardage with four minutes left in the opening quarter.

North Babylon threatened again with six minutes left in the half, but the Cougars defense made a stand, forcing the Bulldogs to punt on fourth-and-15.

The spark for the Cougars offense came three plays later, when senior quarterback Jay Morwood handed a pass to junior Devin Demetres, who despite seeming to be stopped at the line of scrimmage, broke outside and defended against four would-be tacklers while covering 65 yards during his touchdown run. Sophomore kicker Matt Robbert completed the point-after attempt to make it a new game.

Marcus Garcia-Miller drags a tackler as he moves the ball up the field. Photo by Bill Landon

On the opening drive of the second half, a Centereach fumble proved costly. After North Babylon recovered, the team completed three plays before Estrella sauntered into the end zone once more for a 14-7 lead.

With less than two minutes remaining in regulation, Centereach mounted a drive downfield connecting on a pair of long pass-plays, one of which was a 32-yard toss to Marcus Garcia-Miller, but both were called back because of offensive pass interference. On a third and long, Morwood threw a Hail Mary pass near the end zone where a North Babylon corner leaped in front for the interception, and with it, victory.

Barrett said that seniors Alec Kiernan, Vinny Liotta and Mike Grieco have led the team to places he hasn’t seen, and were a big part of the team’s success.

“Buying in to everything we do and making other players better around them is why I consider them leaders,” Barrett said. “They lead by example on the field, in the classroom and in the community. Even though the season didn’t end the way we wanted it to, the seniors have really shaped the program into what it is today.”

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Former Centereach team members raise their helmets in a display of unity. File photo by Greg Catalano

By Joseph Wolkin

According to Centereach football coach Adam Barrett, having a 4-4 record isn’t good enough.

The Cougars’ 2015 record placed them in a tie with Half Hollow Hills East for ninth in Division II out of 14 teams. With several key areas to work on, including developing sophomores and juniors from last year’s team, Barrett is hopeful for the team’s 2016 season.

“We have to top our win total from last year,” he said. “Obviously, we want to be better. I think we have the talent and the group that can get us to the playoffs for the first time in a while. We have to get better.”

Centereach missed the playoffs once again in 2015, putting pressure on several returning starters, including incoming senior Shawn McFarland. The wide receiver, who also played on the defensive side of the ball last year, is expected to be a team leader this season.

However, McFarland isn’t the only returning starter Barrett is counting on to carry the team.

Junior running back Alec Kiernan is on the coach’s radar as someone who will stand out in 2016. Standing at 5-feet, 10-inches tall, he continuously defeated opposing rush defenses throughout his sophomore season. Highlight reels show him methodically moving his way through defenders, including an approximately 50-yard rush and another 40-yard one for a touchdown.

“We have a lot of seniors this year,” Barrett said with optimism. “We were a little bit younger last year. I think across the board, a lot of guys have more varsity experience already, so that will help us this year.”

The Cougars will have a first-year starter at quarterback in 2016, with Jay Morwood making the move from junior varsity. According to Barrett, there is a lot of pressure for Morwood to perform early and often.

With 14 seniors on the squad, Barrett expects the team to be stronger this season, but he understands the challenges ahead. The Cougars must defend the ball better after being outscored 184-130 last year, including shutouts at home against Huntington and Half Hollow Hills East, along with an away game at West Islip.

There might be light at the end of the tunnel though, now that there are more student-athletes focusing on the football program at Centereach.

“We’re getting a full-year commitment from these kids now over the last couple of years,” Barrett said. “In the past, it hasn’t been that way. These kids are really putting in the time over the offseason in the weight room and coming to spring ball after playing two to three sports. They have to go in the weight room and stay in shape all year, so that way they’re ready to go as soon as their spring sports are over. We have a year-round commitment to football, and it’s making a difference.”

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.”