08/20/13 2:39pm
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Gene Allen said coming off an 0-8 season has given the Porters more motivation for the coming campaign.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Gene Allen said coming off an 0-8 season has given the Porters more motivation for the coming campaign.

Perhaps nothing fosters team bonding better than going away to camp like the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island high school football team did last month.

For three days, the Porters got away from distractions and focused on football at a team camp at Stony Brook University. They roomed together, practiced three times a day, scrimmaged against Amityville and Syosset, and clicked the fast forward button on their development.

“It was one of the best experiences of my football career,” said Gene Allen, a versatile senior who plays cornerback, rover, wide receiver and quarterback.

It still may be premature to say just how much of a benefit the camp was, but the Porters claim they are already seeing positive results from it. If there was one drawback to camp life, it was the heat they had to deal with on the roasting field turf at Stony Brook’s Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.

“It got up to 120” degrees, said Connor Andersen, a senior guard/middle linebacker. “Some kids’ cleats were melting.”

By comparison, the two-a-day preseason practices that the Porters started on Monday at Greenport High School are no problem.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Assistant coach Chris Robinson working with Willie Riggins while assistant coach Mike Miller watches in the background.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Assistant coach Chris Robinson working with Willie Riggins while assistant coach Mike Miller watches in the background.

“It was a great experience,” coach Jack Martilotta said of the camp. “The heat was a little much. We had a couple of shoes start melting apart. All the kids who went to the camp, they’re breezing through this. A lot of kids spent a lot of time in the off-season making sure they were in shape, and I think it’s showing right now.”

Off-season training, fueled in part by the determination to turn things around after an 0-8 season last year, can work wonders. The 2012 season was hardly kind to the Porters. A double-overtime, season-ending loss to Southampton put an end to their pain. It was the 13th consecutive loss for the Porters, who dropped three games last year by a total of 18 points.

“It was rough because no one expects going into a season and being 0 and 8,” Allen said. “That just killed me, and now it’s just extra motivation.”

Andersen said motivation is the only thing he takes away from last season. “Hopefully that motivation will turn into wins,” he said. “We’ve been looking phenomenal. The Stony Brook camp helped a lot. We’re running plays really smooth, and we’re all close as a family and as a team.”

All the way around, the Porters appear to be in a better situation than they were a year ago. As the No. 13 seed among the 14 teams in Suffolk County Division IV, they have a more forgiving schedule. They lost five players to graduation, but have more than a dozen seniors this year.

“They play like seniors,” Martilotta said. “They’re young men and they lead, and young kids look up to it.”

An example of that leadership was seen near the end of Tuesday morning’s practice when a number of varsity players ran alongside a junior varsity player, Chris Schwamborn, and encouraged him as he completed a conditioning run.

In addition to returning veterans like Allen, Andersen, running back Frank Sierra and lineman Cody Fisher, the Porters have a transfer from Bishop McGann-Mercy, senior lineman Owen Finnigan, who should help. The Porters didn’t have a junior varsity team last season and barely had enough players to field a JV team two years ago, but numbers are up, and Martilotta said there will be a JV team this year.

Jared Schenone, a senior quarterback, has been a bystander during these first practices. He had an emergency appendectomy two weeks ago after having been told that his appendix had burst without him knowing it two weeks earlier while he was at the Stony Brook camp. Schenone, who sat out the entire 2012 season with a wrist injury, is awaiting medical clearance to practice. In the meantime, the Porters still have Allen and Matt Drinkwater, who threw most of the team’s passes last season.

But what is past is past. The Porters are looking forward to better days ahead.

“We are a different team this year, I’ll tell you that, a hundred percent different team,” Allen said. “We have a bigger line. Everyone’s bigger … faster, stronger.”

If the Porters produce a season worth remembering, they may want to trace its beginnings to the camp in Stony Brook.

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06/07/13 9:27pm
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Frank Sierra was Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island's leading risher last season with 540 yards from 155 carries.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Frank Sierra was Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island’s leading rusher last season with 540 yards from 155 carries.

The Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island football team has had enough of losing. Losing is something the Porters have known only too well over the past two years, and now they’re doing something about it.

A winless 2012 season that ended with a 26-20 double-overtime defeat to Southampton did not sit well with the Porters, who have lost 13 straight games dating back to 2011. Many of them, like Frank Sierra, have resolved to do all they can to see that next season brings the Porters some wins.

“It’s just something I never want to feel again,” said Sierra, who led the Porters with 540 rushing yards from 155 carries last year. “It was a horrible feeling.”

Borne from all those losses was a spirit of determination and motivation. A stronger Sierra said that ever since the football season ended, he has worked out in the weight room five days a week and ran on weekends with teammate Jared Schenone.

“Everyone’s determined,” said Gene Allen, who ran for three touchdowns, passed for three touchdowns and caught a touchdown pass in 2012. “We’re focused on working hard. We know what we have to do to win games.”

Players say they have noticed a changed attitude during the team’s weeklong mini-camp that concluded on Friday at Mattituck High School.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Connor Andersen, who made 19 tackles last season, working on his agility Friday, the final day of the weeklong mini-camp.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Connor Andersen, who made 19 tackles last season, working on his agility Friday, the final day of the weeklong mini-camp.

“Everyone’s hungry for some wins,” said Connor Andersen, who plays fullback and middle linebacker. “We have people pushing each other.”

Last year’s 0-8 record was something the Porters did not expect. Coming off a 1-7 season and a brutal schedule the year before, the Porters thought 2012 would be kinder to them. They were in for a rude surprise.

“I was shocked,” said Andersen.

Allen said: “Honestly, I thought we were going to win a handful of games. I thought we were going to go to the playoffs.”

The bulk of the team will return in August. In fact, the Porters have said goodbye to nine seniors over the past two years, and coach Jack Martilotta is expecting to have about 15 seniors on his roster in the fall.

That, along with a more forgiving schedule, provides the Porters with cause for optimism.

“We’ve got high hopes,” Martilotta said. “Last year, even though we didn’t win, we had a lot of close games — heartbreakingly close games — and we feel that this year it should tip in our favor.”

Martilotta said 55 players attended the mini-camp. One of the benefits of the mini-camp is that it gives players an idea of what to expect when preseason practice starts on Aug. 19. Before then, though, the Porters plan to attend a team camp at Stony Brook University in mid-July.

“They’re very motivated,” Martilotta said. “They really are. It shows the character of these young men.”

Among the players who participated in the mini-camp was Schenone, who sat out last season because of problems with his wrists, but is said to be looking forward to his senior season as the leading quarterback candidate. Schenone was brought up to the varsity team as a freshman three years ago along with Allen, Andersen and Sierra. They all witnessed firsthand what playoff football is about, and they would like to experience it again this coming fall as seniors.

“This year, it’s like, everyone is always talking about football 24/7,” Sierra said. “We’re always talking about what we can do to improve. This is our last year. We want to go out with a bang.”

Allen was already looking forward to the team’s season-opening game, which will be at home on Sept. 12 against Wyandanch.

“We’re going to be ready,” he said. “We know what it felt like to lose. Now we just want to win.”

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10/27/12 6:40pm

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island’s Billy McAllister looking for running room around Southampton’s Lyle Smith.

MARINERS 26, PORTERS 20 (2 OT)

Lyle Smith loves playing football so much that his coach joked that Smith saw to it that the final game of the season for both the Southampton and Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island football teams on Saturday went to overtime.

Overtime would have been unnecessary had the Southampton junior held on to a pass in the end zone in the fourth quarter with the score tied at 13-13.

“That’s why he dropped that pass,” Southampton coach Edgar Franklin said. “I just think he wanted the game to go a little longer. He didn’t want it to end, he was having such a good time.”

The drop, which Smith said was his only one of the season, might have been the only thing that Smith didn’t do right. Regardless, it didn’t hurt Southampton in the long run. Alex Halaka scored on a 10-yard run around the left side in the second round of overtime, lifting the Mariners to a 26-20 victory and closing the door on a winless season for Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island.

Southampton, which didn’t post a win last season, finished the season with a 3-5 record in Suffolk County Division IV. The Mariners saw their playoff chances dashed before they took the field, but that didn’t seem to deter their desire.

“Sometimes it isn’t always about making the playoffs,” Franklin said. “It’s about bouncing back from defeat, and that’s how life is sometimes. You got to bounce back when you get knocked down. These guys responded this week. They came out and they said they wanted to go out the right way.”

Halaka’s game-winning run followed a fumble by Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island that was forced by Nitauke Williams and recovered by Danny Claud.

Both teams scored touchdowns in the first overtime of the rare afternoon game at Greenport High School’s Dorrie Jackson Memorial Field. Southampton snapped a 13-13 tie when Williams broke free and caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Sanders (9 of 15, 131 yards). Then Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island (0-8) responded with Tyshe Williams banging into the end zone for a four-yard touchdown burst.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island’s Jack Volinski (No. 4) and Christian Angelson (No. 3) positioned themselves for this pass that a Southampton player tipped before Timmy Stevens caught it for a Porters touchdown.

The loss was the 13th in a row for the Porters, who dropped three of their games this year by a total of 18 points.

“We really wanted the kids to be able to get one today,” Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island coach Jack Martilotta said. “Last year games weren’t that close. This year they’re heartbreakingly close.”

It looked as if the football gods might finally smile on the Porters when Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island’s Connor Anderson retrieved the short game-opening kick that teammate John Drinkwater lofted high in the air. That set up a one-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown by Matt Drinkwater.

But Smith, the undoubted player of the game, was on Southampton’s side. By the game’s end, his dirty No. 27 uniform told the tale of how busy he was. The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Smith, a former offensive tackle, played running back and middle linebacker. He ran for touchdowns on two successive second-quarter touches, the second of which was an 85-yarder in which a block by Isaiah Johnson opened a clearing for him up the middle. Smith ended up with 141 rushing yards from 14 carries and made a 24-yard reception. If that wasn’t enough, he had a monster of a game on defense, and was involved in a game-high 22 tackles.

The Porters tied the score at 13-13 with 10 seconds left in the first half. Eugene Allen, who alternated at quarterback with Matt Drinkwater, scrambled before floating a 10-yard pass up for grabs into the end zone. A Southampton player got his hands on the ball while Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island’s Jack Volinski and Christian Angelson contested him for it. The ball trickled down — and into Timmy Stevens’ waiting hands for a touchdown.

Even without running back Frank Sierra, who sat out the game with a knee injury, the Porters still picked up 240 yards on the ground. That was thanks in no small measure to a pair of sophomores, Williams (25 carries, 125 yards) and Billy McAllister (14 carries, 72 yards).

Yet, it was a sad ending for the Porters and their five seniors, who wore their team’s uniform for the last time: Christian Davis, Chris Manwaring, Marc Proferes, Eddie Wright and Richie Wysocki.

“We almost had it,” lineman Codey Fisher said. “It was close.”

Martilotta said: “We’re an 0 and 8 team, and the kids are fighting, clawing and scratching to literally the last second of the last play of the season. We’re very lucky. I’ve been saying all year, we have a great group of kids.”

On the other side of the field, Franklin and his players were ecstatic, posing for a happy team photo.

“Words can’t even express the way I feel right now,” Franklin said. “… I can see no better ending to their season than a double-overtime win with a senior scoring the winning touchdown. It couldn’t have ended better for them.”

Overtime is pressure-packed and intense, but Smith didn’t seem to mind. And why should he? After all, it meant more football.

“It was exciting,” he said. “Most people get nervous, but I was excited. I couldn’t wait to play. I like playing football, so the more football the better. Anything to keep the game going.”

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10/19/12 11:34pm

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Eugene Allen of Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island using his legs to pick up yards with Center Moriches’ Timothy Anthony in pursuit.

RED DEVILS 21, PORTERS 14

When the game started, Center Moriches was the only football team that was lower than Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island in the Suffolk County Division IV standings. But after the two winless teams played on Friday night, it was hard to imagine anyone feeling lower than the Porters.

In the matchup between two 0-6 teams, one team had to win, and that team was Center Moriches. Tyrell Thomas threw two touchdown passes in addition to running for another touchdown and a two-point conversion as Center Moriches secured a 21-14 victory at Greenport High School’s Dorrie Jackson Memorial Field. It was the 12th straight loss for the Porters, and possibly the toughest of them all.

“It’s an awful feeling,” Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island’s doleful coach, Jack Martilotta, said. “I’m sure the kids feel awful. It’s hard. Losing is hard.”

Nobody has to tell Center Moriches that. The Red Devils can relate to Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island’s woes. They also had their hearts set on putting a marker in the “W” column.

Center Moriches, which was a playoff team the last three years, underwent a major overhaul, returning only two players from last year’s squad. The Red Devils have more juniors and sophomores (16) than seniors (six), but that didn’t keep them from rising to the occasion on Friday night.

“Emotionally, it’s been really tough going week after week and losing close games because we never really got blown out, and to finally taste a victory, it’s just unreal,” Center Moriches inside linebacker Ryan Lewis said. “First one of the year. It feels great. We didn’t even know what to do because we just won. We never celebrated before so we were like in shock.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island’s Sal Loverde leaping up to make a 26-yard reception while being watched by Center Moriches’ Mekhai Godley, left, and Bryan Foster.

Thomas (15 of 23, 227 yards), a sophomore quarterback/safety, knew what to do during the game. He scored on a six-yard run in between scoring tosses of 64 yards to Zachary Brady and 25 yards to Michael Speed. The pass to Speed on the first play of the fourth quarter gave Center Moriches a 21-7 lead.

The Porters pulled themselves back in the game when Eugene Allen found John Drinkwater in the corner of the end zone with a five-yard pass on fourth down, capping a 13-play, 70-yard scoring drive with 6 minutes 52 seconds to go in the contest. It was Allen’s second touchdown pass of the game.

Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island had an opportunity to score again when a bad snap on a fourth-down punt play gave the Porters the ball at the Center Moriches 34-yard line with 3:40 remaining. The Porters moved the ball to the 15 before losing possession on downs.

The final dagger came when an offsides penalty by the Porters on a fourth-down play gave Center Moriches a first down with 1:16 to go. That allowed the Red Devils to run out the clock.

“I wanted this for them so bad because they didn’t deserve to go 0 and 7,” Center Moriches coach Steve Failla said of his players. “To be honest with you, they all inspire me.”

Things had started off promisingly for the Porters when they scored first for the first time in a game this season thanks to Allen’s 37-yard pass to a wide open Christian Angelson, who waited for the ball to arrive before turning and charging into the end zone with 37 seconds left in the first quarter.

But an ill-timed timeout and three personal fouls that amounted to 45 yards hurt the Porters.

“I couldn’t believe it. I was stunned,” Martilotta said of the personal fouls. “Everything’s a habit. Losing’s a habit and winning’s a habit. I felt like we kind of defeated ourselves today.”

A timeout by the Porters led to Center Moriches’ first touchdown late in the second quarter. The timeout was called on a fourth-and-two situation on the Porters’ 36 with 32 seconds to go in the half. Martilotta said the timeout was called because his punt team was not ready and he didn’t want to give up a blocked punt or a delay-of-game penalty.

“It was a little confusion,” Martilotta said. “That was not at the best time, either.”

On the next play after Matt Drinkwater’s punt, Center Moriches scored on Thomas’ 64-yard pass to Brady. Thomas ran in the ensuing two-point conversion for an 8-7 lead for the Red Devils.

Most of the damage Center Moriches inflicted came through the air. John Cerverizzo caught seven of the 10 passes in which he was targeted for 96 yards.

Lewis played an inspired game. He was in on 16 tackles, including a sack, and recovered a fumble.

Allen had a productive game for the Porters, throwing for 110 yards on 8-of-12 passing and running the ball 19 times for 104 yards.

Connor Anderson had a hand in 10 tackles for the Porters, and Angelson made an acrobatic interception, tipping the ball up in the air to himself.

“We’re not an 0 and 7 team,” Allen said. “That’s what it is on paper, I know. All our guys work hard, practice hard. It’s just a bunch of mental stuff.”

With its win, Center Moriches received a boost to its mental well-being.

“I wanted to win this game bad,” Lewis said. “I just want to go home and celebrate right now and have a great time.”

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10/13/12 6:19pm

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island’s Connor Andersen, left, and Jonathan Bakowski laying a hit on Bayport-Blue Point quarterback Brendan Bateman.

PHANTOMS 21, PORTERS 7

Points were hard to come by for the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island football team on Saturday, and yards were even harder.

Bayport-Blue Point’s defense did not give up any points, surrendered only two pass completions, and allowed the Porters a measly 11 yards from 44 offensive plays as the Phantoms registered a 21-7 win on Bob Sullivan Field. The Porters struggled mightily to move the ball, managing only one first down for the game. They were 1 of 13 on third-down conversions and 0 for 2 on fourth downs.

“Obviously, that was a problem today,” Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island coach Jack Martilotta said. “They came up, filled all the holes real good. There wasn’t a lot of places for us to go. They played quite a defensive game.”

The Phantoms (2-4 Suffolk County Division IV) weren’t lacking for motivation. Not only was it homecoming weekend, but it was also Senior Day, Bayport-Blue Point’s final home game of the regular season and a vital game for the Phantoms’ playoff hopes. In addition to wearing their customary navy blue and gold home uniforms with gold helmets that brought about a resemblance to Notre Dame’s uniform, the Phantoms also wore green socks in honor of their late, legendary coach, Kerry Lawler. Lawler was inducted into the school’s hall of fame earlier in the day.

“The whole community is here,” said Matt McKinnon, who played slot receiver, halfback and cornerback for Bayport-Blue Point. “It’s a big day. Everyone’s having fun.”

Not the Porters (0-6), though. They lost their 11th straight game and almost certainly saw their playoff chances go down the drain.

“It hurts, but we got to keep our heads up,” said Christian Angelson, a wide receiver and cornerback for Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island.

McKinnon was responsible for 15 of Bayport-Blue Point’s points. He scored the team’s last two touchdowns, catching a 48-yard pass from Brendan Bateman in the second quarter and then winding his way 45 yards on a touchdown run, making the score 21-0 with 9 minutes 28 seconds left in the third quarter. The junior also kicked a 21-yard field goal on the final play of the first half.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | This hit by Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island’s Matt Drinkwater on Bayport-Blue Point’s Anthony Preston forced a fumble.

The Porters gained possessions on four fumble recoveries to keep themselves in the contest. Matt Drinkwater and Eugene Allen collected two fumbles each for the Porters, and Drinkwater ran one of his two back 53 yards for a score 2:01 into the fourth quarter.

Bayport-Blue Point scored on its third drive of the game when a defensive back slipped, enabling Jack Flood to run back and catch a pass from Bailey Imbo before racing to the end zone for a 45-yard connection. Flood caught all four passes thrown his way for 70 yards.

Anthony Preston ran for 114 yards on 17 carries for Bayport-Blue Point. McKinnon covered 95 yards on eight runs.

But it was Bayport-Blue Point’s defense that stood out. Anthony Lombardi, one of the team’s 17 seniors, made a game-high 11 tackles, with two sacks and a fumble recovery.

The Porters went three and out on 12 of their 14 possessions, including the first eight. They had a one-play possession that ended with an interception.

“It’s tough,” Martilotta said. “We got to be able to move it and stop it. We didn’t have a lot of luck today moving it.”

Speaking of his defense, Bayport-Blue Point coach Eric Iberger said: “They’ve done a great job all season. What we’ve done, unfortunately, is we’ve turned the ball over on special teams. We’ve given up some special teams touchdowns. We’ve thrown some interceptions that have been returned for touchdowns. We’ve had some costly turnovers inside of four-down territory, shortened the field for the other team.”

Last year Bayport-Blue Point failed to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Iberger said that failure was used as motivation for this year. The Phantoms switched from the wing-T to the spread offense in order to make better use of their athleticism.

With Saturday’s win, fifth-seeded Bayport-Blue Point still controls its destiny. If it wins its remaining games against Mount Sinai and Wyandanch, it would almost surely qualify for the playoffs at 4-4. A 3-5 record would give the Phantoms an outside shot at the postseason.

Asked about his team’s playoff prospects, Iberger said, “I would not put anything past those young men in that locker room.”

McKinnon said, “I think that if we just keep playing hard and we play physical, we’ll definitely make the playoffs.”

Because of its high preseason seeding, Bayport-Blue Point was given a tough schedule that included the top four seeds: Elwood/John Glenn, Mount Sinai, Babylon and Shoreham-Wading River.

Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island’s defense, led by the likes of Jonathan Bakowski (eight tackles), Angelson (seven tackles) and Jack Volinski (six tackles), had its moments, but the Porters’ offense was stagnant.

“Our defense has been stepping up a lot lately, big stops,” Angelson said. “Our offense, it’s a work in progress. I think we’ll get it.”

The losses are mounting, but Martilotta has maintained a hopeful outlook that a turnaround is coming.

“I say it every week, they’re playing good football,” he said. “They played good football today. We couldn’t move the ball. The kids were trying, but [the Phantoms] were very good on defense. The kids keep playing hard, they keep trying. The ball’s going to bounce our way.”

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