Friday, 10 December 2010 00:00
After knocking off the undefeated, top-seeded Inwood Buccaneers in the semi-finals, Farmingdale’s Senior Hawks faced the defending champion Baldwin Bombers in the Nassau County Youth Football League finals at Mitchell Field on Sunday, Nov. 21.
After nearly recovering an on-sides kick attempt, the Hawk defense dominated early, forcing Baldwin to go four and out to start the game and forcing them to punt from their own end zone on their second series.
Middle linebacker Christian Hernandez spearheaded the Farmingdale defense, making five tackles in the first two series, but he wasn’t alone. Ahmad Johnson, Nick Irrizarry, Devante Penn, Naquan Warren, Danny Sullivan and Ryan Gonzalez all contributed in the early going.
On Farmingdale’s fourth possession they broke the scoreless tie as Royal Hooks scored on a sweep around right end on 3rd and 1 from the 14-yard line.
The drive covered 52 yards and featured the running of Keyshawn Petit up the middle, behind the physical blocking of Irizzary, Johnson, Brandon Bustamante, Steven Dentato, Devin Selliti, and Bobby Mullane.
Sean McCormick made a perfect snap to holder Kyle Mastrelli and Zach Kolodny made the kick for the two-point conversion, giving Farmingdale an 8-0 lead.
Kolodny had a great year serving primarily as the kicker for this Hawk team, converting 24 of 26 PAT’s and kicking two field goals in as many attempts. His kicks were the difference in the last game of the regular season and the semi-final game.
Late in the first half Hooks intercepted a Bomber pass to give the Hawks an opportunity to add to their lead before halftime. With seven seconds remaining Devante Penn hit Hernandez on a 40-yard go route, but time expired as Baldwin made the tackle inside their 10-yard line.
As expected Baldwin showed no signs of lying down in the second half. Their defense was stifling as Farmingdale’s best scoring opportunity was thwarted when a long Warren run was called back for a penalty.
The Hawk defense answered during the 3rd quarter as well, protecting the 8-0 lead against the fast Bomber offense.
Ends McKeon and Petit, showing his toughness by playing this game on a bruised knee, stayed home and stopped several bootleg and reverse attempts. Bustamante, Michael Arpaio and Taj Penn all played roles in shutting down the Bombers until, with just under six minutes remaining in the game, Baldwin broke through for a touchdown.
The attempt to even the game by kicking their first PAT of the year failed and the Hawks were left with an 8-6 lead.
With the Baldwin defense bringing what seemed like 15 defenders on every play Farmingdale’s offense had no answers and was forced to punt deep from its own end zone twice in the waning minutes.
Ryan Gonzalez boomed punts of 40 and 47 yards to give the Hawk defense a chance to make the two-point lead hold up.
Time and again the Hawk defense came up huge. Defensive backs Sullivan, Hooks, Warren and Myles Mills blanketed the Bomber receivers as their last ditch effort came up short.
Fittingly it was Ahmad Johnson who drove the final Baldwin ball carrier of the day to the turf, sparking an on-field celebration these boys will remember forever.
After the post game handshakes, Hawk parents handed out championship tee shirts (bought without the knowledge of the coaching staff) and pictures were taken with the championship trophy.
This group worked extremely hard from August 1st and, thrilled with the victory, didn’t seem to want the night to end. Unfortunately not all the Hawks were able to celebrate.
Devante Penn injured his shoulder with under a minute to play and showed great determination by returning for the final snap of the game. He left Mitchell Field with a separated shoulder in an ambulance rather than partying on the bus ride back to Allen Park, but is now healing nicely.
New league rules put the 12 and 13 year olds together this year. The 13’s who came back for a final senior year in the Hawks, Zach Kolodny, Naquan Warren, Danny Sullivan, Royal Hooks, Danny McKeon, Christian Hernandez, Ryan Gonzalez and Nick Irizarry, served not only as the backbone for this championship team, but also set a high standard in practice that made their teammates better.
The 12-year-old players who previously played in the Hawks, Tahlik Brown, TJ Greco, Myles Mills, Charlie Tomassetti (injured at the end of the year), Sean McCormick, Kyle Mastrelli, Devante Penn, Matt Kleinhans, Keyshawn Petit, Steven Dentato, Taj Penn, Michael Arpaio, Devin Selliti, Brandon Bustamante, Ryan Odabasi, Kenneth Mott, Vin Calderon and Dadrian Rishardson along with 11-year-olds Max Schall and Bobby Mullane who played up were introduced to a much more physical game right from August 1st, going against their older teammates.
This not only prepared them for the season, as many teams including Baldwin played mostly 13 year olds, but made them tougher and better players. First year football players Michael Khan, Sam Galarza and Ahmad Johnson experienced the work necessary to put a competitive team on the field for the first time and were all vastly improved at the end of the year.
The coaches are proud of these players and appreciate the dedication showed by the boys, their parents, the cheerleaders (at all games that didn’t conflict with their own competitions), team mother Janet McCloughlin and Hawk president Jim Marlow who stood up for this group all year long. Good luck to the boys moving on to play junior varsity football next year.