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Huntington Blue Devils

The Huntington girls basketball team took on the Smithtown West Bulls Jan. 31 at a home game held at Huntington High School. The Devils emerged the winners of the Division 1 matchup, 49-38.

Huntington now stands 5-11 in the league, 6-12 overall. Smithtown West is 7-8 in Division 1 and 8-9 overall.

The Devils will take on North Babylon in an away game on Feb. 2 at 5 p.m. On the same day, the Bulls will host Northport.

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By Steven Zaitz

The Huntington Lady Blue Devils traveled to Northport last Friday and were beaten by the Lady Tigers, 6-0, in a battle of League I teams.

Northport’s Alexa Meinen scored two early goals as the Lady Tigers put on a clinic of passing and dribbling to coast to victory.

Huntington goalkeeper Reese Rinaldi played well despite the score, making 15 saves against a relentless Northport attack. She kept her team in the game, making four difficult saves in the first 10 minutes, but the inevitable floodgates cracked open when Meinen scored her first in the 12th minute off of a scramble in front of Rinaldi. Meinen had a carbon copy goal four minutes later and the rout was on.

Mairead Gayer, Marryn Gruhn, Lili Romano and Sarah Winnegar also scored for Northport. Lady Tiger goalkeeper Anneliese Burg had two saves in her sixth win of the year. 

Newfield’s bats barked early, scoring four runs in the first inning to open the first of a three-game series at Huntington High School in a League III match-up April 18.

The Wolverines were able to keep the Blue Devils at bay stretching their lead to 9-1 after four innings to win the game, 14-1.

Logan Prisco got the win pitching four innings with 10 strikeouts. Joe Hackal went 3-4 from the plate with three RBIs as Stephen Lumme also went 3-4 with two RBIs.

The win lifts Newfield to 6-4 in league, while the loss drops the Blue Devils to 0-6.

It was the Huntington Blue Devils defense that kept the Bulls at bay at Smithtown High School East where East trailed 33-7 at the half time break. Huntington coasted in the second half to notch a 48-20 victory in the League III matchup Dec. 14.

Huntington senior forward Emily Plachta led the way for the Blue Devils with seven field goals a triple and three from the line for 20 points, teammates Gianna Forte banked nine and Junie Nosile battled in the paint for six points. Smithtown East juniors Darcy DeBenedittis and Josie Lent scored four points apiece for the Bulls.

The win lifts Huntington to 3-0 in league play, 6-0 overall. The loss drops Smithtown East to 1-2 in league, 1-4 overall. Both teams are back in action Dec. 17 when Smithtown East has a road game against Copiague at 4 p.m. and Huntington hosts Hills East with a 5 p.m. start.

The Centereach Cougars at 1-4 had their hands full when the Huntington Blue Devils (2-2) came to visit in a Division II matchup Oct. 15.

If the Blue Devils meant to set the early tone, they did, when senior defensive back Ryan Porzio picked off a Justin Robbert pass and went the distance for a pick six touchdown a minute into the game. Lucas Petrizzi found the endzone at the 5:01 mark and with the point after Huntington led 14-0. Senior running back Josiah Melendez off a slant pass eluded two would be Centereach tacklers, bolted to the outside and jetted 53 yards for his second touchdown to put Huntington out front 28-0 at the half. After a dormant third quarter Centereach wide receiver Riddick Drab caught a 15-yard pass from Robbert to take the goose egg off the board. Huntington delivered a one two punch midway through the fourth when Huntington senior Robbie Smith found the endzone on a 20-yard jaunt and followed by Josiah Melendez’s interception then ripped a 60-yarder for the score to take a 42-7 lead. With two minutes left senior running back Markus Figueroa punched in on a 20-yarder for the final 42-14.

The loss drops Centereach to 1-5 while the win lifts Huntington to 3-2 with two games remaining before post season play begins.  

After a scoreless first half, it was Huntington senior Theadora Carnesi’s foot that did the talking in the second half when the midfielder stretched the net three times to win the game, 3-1, on the road against William Floyd.

Carnesi’s hat trick came courtesy of Gianna Forte who notched two assists in the Division I matchup Oct 5. Senior goalkeeper MaKaylah Frazier had six saves.

The win lifts the Blue Devils to 5-5 in their division as Floyd falls to 5-4.

Huntington retakes the field Oct. 7 where the Blue Devils host Smithtown West at 4 p.m.

Number 1 seed advances to conference finals against Bay Shore

By Steven Zaitz

The Huntington High School Baseball team rode a nine run first inning and cruise to a 13-6 victory over Northport on Wednesday. They will face Bay Shore in the finals Friday for the Conference II championship.

Dylan Schnitzer, who was four for five on the day, hit an opposite field, two run homer in that first inning and lefty starting pitcher Palmer O’Beirne was rock solid going 4 1/3 innings striking out seven.

Tiger third basement Owen Johansen hit a grand slam homer late in the game, but it was not enough as the Blue Devils improved their record to 17-2.

By Steven Zaitz

The Houdinis of Huntington pulled off yet another escape — and it was the bullpen that wrote the final act.

The Blue Devils fended off a wild seventh inning comeback attempt by the Northport Tigers and won by a score of 4-3, May 27 in Huntington. Devils starting pitcher Palmer O’Beirne was brilliant again, going 6 1/3 innings and striking out nine. Closer Alex Bellissimo got the last two outs with the bases loaded to end the game.

“That last inning was definitely a lot of pressure, for sure,” the senior Bellissimo said. “But the whole time I was thinking that I’ve got to close it out for Palmer because he pitched a great game. I just stayed relaxed and tried to execute my pitches.”

While Bellissimo was relaxing, everyone else in attendance was on the edge of their seats — in the dugouts and in the stands. As the afternoon settled into early dusk, the other extra-curricular activities around the Huntington High School Athletic Complex had ended.  Lacrosse players, cheerleaders and other members of the student body began to buzz around the ballfield to watch these two fiery rivals play this seventh and deciding inning. They were in for a treat.

Three weeks prior to this game, Huntington stunned Northport with four runs in their final turn at bat to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 6-4 victory. Northport was looking for a little payback.

But O’Beirne, a junior, was perfect through three innings in this rematch and had given up only three hits and a run through six. He came out for the seventh inning having thrown 95 pitches and immediately showed signs of fatigue by giving up a single to Richard Kershow to start the inning. He had struck Kershow out twice before.

“I got two strikes on him and tried to finish him off with a curve,” the 6-foot-3-inch fireballer said. “I left it up a little bit and he was able to get it into right field for a hit. I wish I stuck with my fastball there.”

After getting sophomore Owen Johansen to fly out to right, Tiger first baseman Joe Gonzales lined a double to right center, bringing the potential tying run to the plate and knocking O’Beirne, tired or not, out of the game, as he reached his pitch count maximum of 105.

“I would have liked to have been out there to finish the game,” O’Beirne said. “I was counting pitches in my head instead of focusing on getting the batters out.”

So O’Beirne, who was named after Baltimore Oriole pitching great Jim Palmer, moved over to first base and his teammate Bellissimo was called upon to put out a smoldering fire — and things were about to get even hotter.

Northport shortstop Ray Moreno drove in Kershow with a single to right. Speedy leftfielder Tom Tini, who saved two runs the previous inning with a spinning circus catch, legged out an infield hit on a very close play at first base. Gonzales came in to score on Tini’s hit and Huntington’s lead was suddenly just a single run.

Right fielder Rocco Stola drew a walk, loading the bases and more importantly, putting the potential tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position with only one out.

Northport catcher Mike Catrone stepped up to the plate.  He had driven in a run with a well-struck liner in the previous inning but was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double. But Bellissimo got him to pop out to third and the Devils were one out away from victory — the late spring daylight now fading as the drama came to its crescendo.

Number three hitter and centerfielder Dan Thompson was the last hope for Northport.

“Getting that pop out was huge and took some of the pressure off,” Bellissimo said. “But I still had one more out to get.”

With two strikes, Thomson smoked a humpback liner to straightaway center field.  The pinging sound of aluminum on rawhide set off alarm bells over the now-hushed diamond. Centerfielder Kyle Colleluori, who seems to find a way to contribute every time he steps on a baseball field, ranged over a few steps to his left to snag the liner before it could find the grass. Ballgame over. Blue Devils win.

“Off the bat, I thought it was hit pretty good and maybe they just took the lead,” said the relieved reliever Bellissimo. “But I turned around and saw that Kyle was there, as he always is. What a great win!”

With the victory, Huntington and Northport, along with Bay Shore and Connetquot, sit atop the League II standings and are scrambling to best each other for playoff seeding.

“In our league, almost anyone can beat anyone,” O’Beirne said. “There are no guarantees.”

If these two teams meet again, it will be in the League II playoffs, and if recent history is any indication, there is one thing that can be guaranteed — that game will have another seventh inning storybook ending.

Who will author it?

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by Steven Zaitz

By Steven Zaitz

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Many eyes of the Long Island football universe were focused on the South Shore last Saturday, March 27.

However, there was an important contest that took place on the North Shore, too. The Northport football Tigers were back in business and business was booming.

Booming with pad-popping tackles and the pounding of bass drums.  Booming with explosive hits over the middle, running backs and quarterbacks thrown around like rag dolls and bellowing voices cheering from all corners of Tiger Stadium.  A March day in 2021 time-warped to a typical October afternoon in any other year, as Northport lowered the boom on crosstown Huntington, 23-6.

After taking a week off due to pandemic protocols, the Tiger defense was as ferocious as ever, stifling and suffocating Huntington’s offense. Making matters worse for the Blue Devils, they lost All-State running back Nasir Youngblood to a foot injury early in the second half. He was held in check even before the injury, finishing with 31 quiet yards on eight carries.

The leader of this band of mayhem-making marauders is linebacker Anthony Canales. But could he possibly top his superlative performance against Connetquot from two weeks ago?

Sixteen total tackles? Ridiculous.

Four tackles for loss including a sack? Silly.

Add in two passes batted down and five or six bone-crunching hits and we are talking about quite an encore from Opening Day, and outstanding enough to be one of Newsday’s top players of Week 3. 

“Anthony has great linebacker instincts, plain and simple,” said Head Coach Pat Campbell. “He knows how to fill a window and when he sees a gap that he can get through, he flies through that gap and gets there and makes plays.”

Canales, who celebrated Senior Day on this sun-splashed Saturday, doesn’t just put up gawdy numbers. He establishes and enforces an attitude on defense that makes an impression with the opposing team. For instance, early in the game Huntington receiver John Chirico came over the middle in an attempt to make a short reception. Canales separated the intended receiver not only from the ball, but from his mouth guard as well. The Northport side of the field hooted and hollered with delight and Chirico didn’t run that particular pass pattern for the rest of the day.

“He cleaned that kid up”, said Campbell. “The thing about Anthony is that when he gets there, he gets there with bad intentions.”

The entire defense has had plenty of bad intentions in both Tiger wins this year. It’s a hard-hitting and speedy bunch that is always on the attack, giving offenses absolutely no room to operate. Defensive Linemen Cole Ronan, Dan Lugo and Ryan Farrington were in the Devils’ backfield all day long, disrupting whatever Huntington tried to do.

“Our defensive line eats up blockers like crazy,” Canales said.  “It makes it easier for me to run downhill and get the ball carrier.  That’s what I love to do.”

They have allowed an average of 93 total yards in two contests and a grand total of six points. Those points scored on this day by the Blue Devils was a garbage time touchdown when the game was no longer in doubt.

The likeable linebacker had extra motivation as Huntington has always been an archrival of Northport, as the two schools sit five miles apart.

“We took this game personally,” Canales said. “There is no way we were going to let our crosstown rivals beat us, especially on Senior Day. No way!”

The Tiger offense, which was very run-heavy in the opening win against Connetquot, had a nicer balance to it against Huntington. Quarterback Conner Gallagher had six completions for 73 yards, including a super accurate rainbow to senior running back Rafe Carner for an 18-yard touchdown in the 1st quarter.

“We were practicing that play all week and we liked the matchup we had in that down and distance,” Gallagher said. “Once Rafe had a step on his defender, I tried to drop it in. Rafe made a great catch.”

“Conner had to make an adjustment because Rafe got knocked off his original route,” Campbell said. “It was a nice throw and a good, athletic play by Rafe.”

Gallagher had another touchdown on a quarterback sneak and Northport is 2-0. They have again cracked Newsday’s Top Ten Power Rankings and their next matchup is at Smithtown East, who got bullied by Bellport 46-14 on Saturday — but all is not roses for the Tigers.  Starting Center Joe Keller-DelPrete suffered a knee injury in the third quarter and was replaced by Canales’ brother Andrew. Keller-DelPrete is one of the team leaders and when he went down the festive atmosphere of the afternoon became muted.

“He’s one of our big-time leaders, an energy guy, a vocal guy and he’s going to be hard to replace,” Campbell said. “But you have to be a ‘next-man-up’ type of crew and I think we are.”

Another issue the Tigers need to address is the fumbling of the football. They have lost six of them in their two games.

“We have some things we got to fix for sure,” Campbell said. “You don’t win a lot of football games turning the ball over as much as we have. It’s a lack of focus and it has to be our primary job – to take care of the football.”

So far, the defense has bailed them out of dicey situations caused by these turnovers.  One of those defenders, sophomore Owen Johansen had eight tackles, including a safety. Huntington, who made it obvious that they were playing their first game of the year, sloppily snapped the ball over its punter’s head and Johansen tackled him in the Devil end zone.

“That was a big momentum shift for us,” Johansen said. “I think the tide really turned for us after that.”

Johansen’s not kidding.  After his play made the score 16-0, senior Rocco Stola showed off one of the many tools he has in his football tool belt — his blazing speed.

He took the free kick 69 yards straight up the middle, blew past three or four white-shirted Blue Devils for a touchdown.  There wasn’t a Huntington player within 15 yards of Stola when he crossed the goal line.

“Perfect blocking,” said Stola, who plays on all three units of the football team. “As I saw the kick coming towards me, I knew I had to score. I thought I was a bit late for a split second, but I ran my fastest, I saw the hole and I wasn’t going to let anyone catch me.”

“We all knew he was gone as soon as he touched that ball,” Canales said.

Rocco’s run closed the scoring for Northport at 23 and put a ribbon on this one, for all practical purposes.

Oh, and in that game on the South Shore, Sayville beat Floyd. But lest people forget, there are good football teams north of I-495 as well.

Smithtown West needed the win in order to stay ahead of crosstown rival Smithtown East for sole possession of second place in the League 3 standings, and the Bulls did that handily at home downing the Huntington Blue Devils, 55-38, on senior night Feb. 23. 

The Bulls have one game remaining against Copiague Feb. 25 and will need that win to make the post season which begins Feb 27. 

Patrick Burke, the 6’6” sophomore, sat atop the scoring chart for the Bulls with six field goals for 12 points. Tyler Anderson, a junior, banked nine; senior Jack Driscoll netted nine; and Luke Jimenez, a senior, added eight. With the win, Smithtown West improves to 4-1.

Huntington junior Max Rentsch led the Blue Devils in scoring with 14 points followed by teammate Chad Rowe who banked six. Adrian Brooks and Kevin Drake netted five points apiece. The loss drops the Blue Devils to 1-4 with two games remaining.