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Anthony DiLorenzo

Senior captains of the 2023 Rocky Point High School football team. From left, Ryan Meyers, Jeremy Graham and A.J. Aschettino. Photo courtesy Rich Acritelli

The 2023 Rocky Point High School football team hopes for a promising season behind their main senior players, even after an indifferent 0-3 start.

A.J. Aschettino, a team captain, is also one of the finest baseball prospects on Long Island, who will be playing for Northeastern University after graduating from Rocky Point in June 2024.

He will be leading the football team as a safety, running back and possibly even quarterback. Always a quiet team leader, Aschettino leads by example on and off the field.

Last year, Aschettino played well against Islip, scoring a touchdown and rushing for 120 yards on the ground. Against East Hampton, he had four tackles and an interception to help his team to victory.

As the league’s most valuable player for baseball last season, batting an impressive .522, Aschettino will also establish a solid example of hard work and discipline for the younger players on the roster. Longtime head coach Anthony DiLorenzo indicated that Aschettino has “great football knowledge, with speed and agility.”

Jeremy Graham is a senior captain who has played varsity football for the last three seasons. He will be active on the field, leading the team as quarterback while playing cornerback on defense.

Graham had shown flashes of brilliance last season. Against East Hampton, he scored three touchdowns, passed for 60 yards and ran for another 130 yards on the ground. On the defensive side, he had four tackles in last year’s matchup against Eastport-South Manor.

DiLorenzo believes Graham is a “gritty and gutsy” player who fights for every yard. Like Aschettino, he is an exceptional baseball player, having hit .400 in the playoffs last season. He will be on the Hudson Valley Vikings squad after he graduates.

Another excellent football player is senior captain Ryan Meyers. One of the hardest hitting linebackers in the county, Meyers will make his presence felt on the defensive end of the field as well. He will show his versatility in running the ball, where he wants to help the offense gain points against the opposition.

DiLorenzo marvels at Meyers’ physicality, describing the senior linebacker as having the ability “to run through a wall” to help his team win. Last year against Eastport-South Manor, he had five tackles and two sacks to showcase his defensive prowess. After he graduates from Rocky Point, Meyers will play lacrosse at Binghamton University.

DiLorenzo believes that these three senior athletes will help the team attain its goal of establishing “an uncommon effort, with positive energy and a unit that always has support and love for each other.”

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Michael Brewer lunges into the end zone for a 2-point conversion. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Rocky Point hadn’t lost a game since Oct. 1, when the Eagles suffered their second loss of the season, a 42-14 defeat, at the hands of Sayville. No. 4-seeded Rocky Point found itself back up against that same team in the Division III semifinals Nov. 12, and still struggled against the No. 1 Golden Flashes, falling 42-8.

“It’s not about one game — it’s about the year, and we have a lot to be proud of,” Rocky Point head coach Anthony DiLorenzo said. “I feel like we’ve put Rocky Point back on the map.”

Petey LaSalla makes his way up the field. Photo by Bill Landon
Petey LaSalla makes his way up the field. Photo by Bill Landon

The Eagles were on the move in the final minute of the first half, marching down the field during their first scoring threat. The team made it to Sayville’s 9-yard line, but the opposition’s defense denied Rocky Point, and took over on downs.

With just over six minutes left in the third quarter, Rocky Point was on the move again, making its way to the 4-yard line on 4th-and-goal. Again, the Eagles failed to find the end zone, and turned the ball over on downs. Sayville marched the opposite way during a sustained drive, helped in part by flying penalty flags on Rocky Point’s defense. Sayville punched into the end zone for its fourth touchdown with 4:13 left in the quarter, and after a successful point-after attempt kick, broke out to a 28-0 lead.

Carry after carry, Rocky Point running back Petey LaSalla ground and pounded the ball up the middle for most of what offense the Eagles could muster. As a result, the Sayville defense heavily targeted the junior.

On the opening drive in the final quarter, LaSalla — after several carries — punched into the end zone for the team’s only touchdown of the day. LaSalla lined up under center to attempt a 2-point conversion, and after a bad snap went over LaSalla’s head, he recovered the ball, slipped passed several would-be tacklers and threw the ball to senior running back Michael Brewer, who made the 15-yard catch and lunged over the goal line to bring the score to 28-8.

Despite the result, DiLorenzo was impressed with how his 7-3 team finished the season and its playoff push.

“I just thank the seniors for giving me their hearts,” he said. “I said to the kids as much as it hurts to lose 42-8 right now, we’re headed in the right direction.”