By Bill Landon
Earning the No. 1 seed in Division II after finishing the regular season with a perfect 8-0 record, the Newfield football team hosted No. 8 Deer Park in the qualifying round of playoffs Friday, where the Wolverines ended the Falcons’ season with a 54-6 blowout to advance to the next round.
Newfield edged closer to a score when junior linebacker Isaiah Israel recovered a Deer Park fumble, putting the Wolverines deep into Falcons territory. On the next play from scrimmage, Newfield senior quarterback Ryan Klemm tossed the ball to classmate Elijah Riley, a wide receiver, who cut up the field and flew into the end zone. On a bad snap, the point-after attempt failed and the Wolverines settled for a 6-0 lead.
The Falcons struggled to move the chains and went for the down on fourth-and-15, but didn’t come close, as the Wolverines took over on downs. On the next play, Klemm dropped back and threw deep down the left sideline to senior wide receiver Jelani Greene, who caught the ball in stride and strolled into the end zone untouched. With a successful two-point conversion, Newfield extended its lead, 14-0.
Greene said his team prepared for the playoff game like any other.
“We came out and did what we usually do — what we had to do,” Greene said. ”In practice, just like all season, we have the same mindset that we come out and put points on the board, and at the same time prevent them from putting points on the board.”
Unable to mount much of an offensive effort, Deer Park handed the ball back to Newfield and the team got back to work. This time, Klemm took matters into his own hands as he followed his blockers up the middle of the field, broke free from the crowd and found the end zone for six more points. With the point after, the Wolverines surged ahead, 21-0, with a minute left in the first quarter.
“We went about [tonight’s game] like we did for the first eight games,” Klemm said. “It was the next game up so we did the same thing we do every other week.”
Deer Park threatened on the opening drive of the second quarter, choosing to go for it on fourth down, but Newfield’s swarming defense stood tall with a big stop and again the offensive unit got down to business. With just over six minutes left in the half, senior tailback Denzel Williams got the call on a pitchout from Klemm. Williams, a sprinter for the Middle Country track team, took off like it was the 100-yard dash and no defender came close. With the point after successful, the Wolverines jumped out in front 28-0.
Williams said he knew his team was up for the task heading into the game.
“We gave it our all, but we know that any team can beat us, so we stay humble,” Williams said. “We just do what we do from here on out and our goal is the championship.”
Deer Park halted the Newfield scoring fest on the ensuing kickoff, where the team narrowly escaped a diving defender and stumbled into the end zone to break the ice.
“They’re an aggressive team and they come after you,” Newfield head coach Joe Piccininni said. “They’re tough kids, and they don’t stop.”
Deer Park lined up for the two-point conversion, but again the Wolverines’ defensive unit said “no,” and the Falcons trailed 28-6.
Klemm and Riley hooked up again for the next score, but this time, Riley cut to the outside on a pass play, where he went the distance for his second touchdown of the night.
“Everybody did a fantastic job,” Riley said. “The defensive line did a great job of getting [Deer Park’s] quarterback and our linebackers did an even better job filling [the holes]. We had good secondary pressure coming from the outside.”
The point-after attempt missed, and Newfield pressed ahead 34-6.
Deer Park was unable to find the scoreboard again, and before Newfield flushed its bench, Williams looked for a hole up the middle, and finding nothing, broke to the outside and again did what he does best, sprinting ahead to leave would-be tacklers in his dust as he made his way into the end zone for his second touchdown of the game. With the extra point good, the Wolverines took a 41-6 advantage into the halftime break.
On the first play from scrimmage, Riley helped put the game out of reach when he bolted down the left sideline, leaving Deer Park defenders behind as he broke into the end zone for his third touchdown of the contest. The Newfield avalanche was on, and after Piccininni swapped in his bench players, junior quarterback Joe Reyes took over under center, and pitched the ball to the junior running back Maximillion Mastroianni, who stayed half a step ahead of three would-be Deer Park defenders, and outran the pack to find the end zone to add salt to the Falcons’ wounds. Newfield lined up for what looked like a two-point conversion, but took a knee to arrest the scoring fest ahead 54-6.
With the win, Newfield advances to the next round where the team will host No. 4 North Babylon on Saturday at 1 p.m., in their quest for the Suffolk County championship.