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Mineola Mustangs Reach Playoffs

After an up and down season the Mineola Varsity Football team finished the regular season in playoff position. The Mustangs started out the season with a 26–6 loss to the now first-place and #1 playoff seed Locust Valley. The Mustangs rebounded from that loss with a victory over Friends Academy and a 28 –7 win over Oyster Bay on Homecoming.

The team had been without the services of returning All County running back Steve Napolitano.  Steve suffered a broken ankle over the summer and after rehabilitation played his first game against #2 seed Roosevelt High School. Although Steven was not quite his normal self, his addition to the team would be a big plus. The Mustangs took an 18–6 lead into the fourth quarter but faltered in the end as Roosevelt came away with the victory.

The team then hit a low point by losing to Cold Spring Harbor 35–21.  To reach the playoffs, the Mustangs needed to turn things around or the postseason would probably be out of reach.  The challenge in front of them was to beat the #1 seed and returning conference champion Seaford.

For the first time this season the Mustangs finally played up to their capability. They won an exciting 28–21 overtime victory over Seaford. The offensive and defensive line of Bruno Ferreira, Dave Gorry, Vishal Ochani, Alan Martinez, Tom Behan, Anthony Ribando and Tim Natale did a great job against the bigger and stronger Seaford linemen.  Linebackers Matt Long, Craig Weber, and Nico Pantelides were led by middle linebacker Joe Massaro.  Massaro led the team with 15 tackles and did an awesome job stopping the running backs of Seaford.  Defensive backs Quinn Paggi, Brian Gaffney and Tom Breslin shutdown Seaford’s passing game completely.

Offensively, the Mustangs were led by the running of Brian Gaffney and Steve Napolitano.  Steve had an exciting 55-yard run for a touchdown.  Receivers Nico Pantelides and Tom Breslin had multiple catches.

Tom had two catches for touchdowns which included one with 12 seconds remaining to tie the score. Quarterback Rob Clarkin had a terrific game completing 18-of-23 passes, 180 yards, 3 touchdowns.  The third touchdown was the game winner in overtime on a 12-yard pass to Craig Weber.

The Mustangs next scheduled game was against the 5-1 West Hempstead Rams.  The Mustangs tried for a repeat as they came back from a 14 point, fourth quarter deficit to take the lead 36–35 with 2 minutes to go.  They were not able to hold the lead though and lost 41–36.

This game was all about Brian Gaffney and Massaro. Brian took over as quarterback this week after an injury to starting quarterback Rob Clarkin.  It was Brian’s first game as a starting quarterback.  He had a remarkable day rushing for 244 yards and 3 touchdowns while going 13-for-23 for 180 yards and 1 touchdown.  Middle linebacker Joe Massaro had 22 solo tackles and 4 assists to keep the Mustangs in the game.

The Mustangs had to defeat Malverne Mules to earn the final playoff spot.  They did it in fine fashion with a 39–14 victory over Malverne. The Mustangs now get a chance to reverse their loss to Locust Valley as they meet them this week at their homefield.  With the help of all the Mustangs, Juan Gulinao, Dave Kim, Shaun Mathew, Brendan Gunshinan, Nick Rutigliano, Dave Valmond, Tevin Carlo, Rohit Singla, Detrick Cuascut, Alan Clark, and Bobby Rogers the Mustangs will work hard to bring home a victory and continue on in the playoffs.