10/05/12 11:53pm

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Timmy Stevens (No. 1) and John Drinkwater after a 53-yard run by Stevens set up Frank Sierra’s six-yard touchdown run on the next play during the second quarter.


A night that brought about a lineman’s dream — not once, not twice, but three times — proved to be a nightmare for the struggling Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island football team.

If scoring a touchdown is supposed to be a lineman’s dream, two defensive linemen realized the same dream during Friday night’s Wyandanch-Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island game, and one lineman did so twice. A strange game was made even stranger by the fact that three fumbles were recovered and run back for touchdowns by defensive linemen in Wyandanch’s 38-27 win at Greenport High School’s Dorrie Jackson Memorial Field.

Daquan Brown, who played defensive tackle as well as guard for Wyandanch, collected two fumbles that he took in for touchdowns.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,”  Wyandanch coach Ed Gay said. “I was enjoying every bit of it.”

Brown ripped the ball out of quarterback Eugene Allen’s hands and dashed 61 yards to the end zone, helping the Warriors (2-3 in Suffolk County Division IV) to a 16-0 lead with 30 seconds left in the first quarter. It was the first career touchdown for the senior. On his second touchdown, he took the ball from Frank Sierra before scooting 16 yards, making the score 32-12 with 7:58 remaining in the fourth quarter.

“It’s beautiful, just walking into the end zone,” Brown said. “Oh my gosh. I want to do it again. I want to do it again and again.”

Codey Fisher, a senior defensive end and right tackle for Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island, could relate to the excitement Brown must have felt. Fisher stole the ball from quarterback Marcus Gay and charged 56 yards for the Porters’ first points of the game with 3:46 left in the first half.

“It is freaky. I was shocked,” Fisher said. “I grabbed the ball, and at first I thought it was a dream because I was like, ‘This isn’t happening,’ and then I was like, ‘Oh my God, I just made a touchdown for the first time in my life.’ ”

It was a strange game in other ways, too. The Porters (0-5) committed six turnovers, including five on fumbles, yet somehow were in the game during the later stages. Allen’s one-yard touchdown run and John Drinkwater’s extra point cut Wyandanch’s lead to 32-27 with 2:10 left in the fourth quarter. But a 53-yard touchdown run by Wyandanch’s Matthew Rosa just 20 seconds later sealed the result.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island’s Eugene Allen (No. 5) beat Wyandanch’s Damon Daniels to the ball for an interception during the second quarter.

Wyandanch paid a heavy price for the win, with two of its players being taken away in an ambulance after being injured on separate fourth-quarter plays. Damon Daniels, a kick return specialist and wide receiver, injured his neck, said Ed Gay. After being placed on a stretcher, Daniels held up his right arm with his forefinger pointing up triumphantly before being carried into an ambulance. Earlier in the game, on the first play of the third quarter, Daniels had returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. Another Wyandanch player injured his left shoulder, said Ed Gay. The identity of that player, who had been brought up recently from the junior varsity team, could not be ascertained. While that player was being attended to with 1:27 left on the game clock, officials put an early end to the game.

The result of the homecoming game marked the 10th straight loss for the Porters.

“It’s another one,” Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island coach Jack Martilotta said. “Last week was a game we definitely could have won, and this week was definitely a game we could have won.”

With 183 rushing yards from Sierra (one touchdown) and 102 from Allen, who ran for two touchdowns, the Porters generated 356 yards worth of offense and converted on eight of 13 third-down plays.

“I felt like we were moving the ball almost at will,” Martilotta said. “We were running all over the place.”

Meanwhile, the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island defense forced four turnovers itself, including a pair of interceptions by Jack Volinski, one of which was a fine diving snatch on Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island’s own 3-yard line. Sal Loverde made 10 tackles.

Tevaun Carr was in on 11 tackles for Wyandanch.

The Porters’ problem could be described in one word: turnovers. Six turnovers were too much to overcome. Wyandanch scored 14 points off those turnovers. And yet, it could have been worse for Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island. Two Wyandanch touchdowns were nullified by penalties.

A 20-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-and-10 play from Gay to Justice Brughton opened the scoring. Wyandanch went on to take an 18-0 lead when the Porters recovered their own fumble in their end zone for a safety.

The Porters twice pulled to within six points after that, but weren’t able to prevent Wyandanch from winning back-to-back games for the first time since 2000.

“Everything just kind of came together,” Ed Gay said. “We knew we had the athletes.”

The Wyandanch coach said he expected his two injured players to be O.K. “We’re going to get banged up; it’s football,” he said. “Those guys, they were fighting. I mean, they were 0 and 4 and they were fighting. I got to give it to them.”

Turnovers had not been a major issue for the Porters. They had nine turnovers in their previous four games.

“You got to hold onto it,” Martilotta said. “We got in a hole early and we fought the whole game to get out of it. I [thought] that we were going to get out of it, but we just kept dropping that ball.”

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09/29/12 6:25pm

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Bishop McGann-Mercy quarterback Asaiah Wilson gave the Monarchs a 12-0 lead by scoring on a 10-yard touchdown run.


These Monarchs have pride, and for good reason.

Bishop McGann-Mercy is off to one of the greatest starts in the football team’s history. Indeed, these are heady times for the Riverhead Catholic school. The Monarchs, who were seeded 12th in Suffolk County Division IV in a preseason coaches poll, brought their record to 4-0 on Saturday with a 12-7 homecoming win over Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island at Harold T. Murray Memorial Field.

“Mercy football, 4 and 0!” said Asaiah Wilson, who played quarterback and safety for McGann-Mercy. Wilson went so far as to proclaim this the “best team in Mercy history.”

McGann-Mercy coach Jeff Doroski said he did not know if the Monarchs had ever won their first four games in a season before. “We’re playing much more physical than we’ve ever played before,” he said. “We’re excited about what’s happening here.”

If the Monarchs were looking for an easy time against Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island (0-4), it wasn’t happening. For one thing, it’s a rivalry game, and the Porters played what was easily their best game of the season.

McGann-Mercy can credit its defense for holding on during crunch time. After forcing McGann-Mercy to punt — and benefitting from a couple of penalties in the process — the Porters took possession at the Monarchs’ 40-yard line with 3 minutes 11 seconds to go in the game and the score 12-7. They reached the 16 before being stopped on a fourth-down play in which Eugene Allen absorbed a powerful initial hit by Wilson before being brought down by Ray Ellis for no gain. By holding the Porters several inches short of a first down, McGann-Mercy was able to run off four plays and the remaining time in the game.

“We lost basically by four inches,” said Allen, a junior who made his first start at quarterback. “We gave it all we can, just four inches. It was our game if we just made that one play.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island defensive back Jack Volinski breaking up a pass.

A controversial pass interference call against Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island also had a big impact. The call came in the third quarter, negating an interception by Jack Volinski and allowing McGann-Mercy to retain possession. Two plays later, Wilson took the ball 10 yards on a quarterback sneak for a touchdown that made the score 12-0 with 1:39 left in the third quarter.

“That might have been the game,” Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island coach Jack Martilotta said. “I talked to the official about it. I have no clue why he called that.”

Wilson (7 of 16, 139 yards), a junior transfer from Longwood, was also involved in McGann-Mercy’s first touchdown. He flipped a screen pass to Reggie Archer for a 37-yard touchdown completion in the second quarter.

Archer had a productive running game as well. Traversing a muddy, slick field that made it hard to get traction, the sophomore accumulated 122 yards from 29 carries.

A promising 11-play, 65-yard drive by McGann-Mercy reached the Porters’ 7-yard line. But the Monarchs came away empty-handed on the final play of the first half when Ed Kneski’s 35-yard field-goal attempt was blocked by Timmy Stevens.

Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island got on the scoreboard with 7:42 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Porters capped a 16-play drive with a three-yard touchdown run by Allen, making it a one-score game.

Allen is a playmaker, and that was the Porters’ thinking in going with him at quarterback instead of Matt Drinkwater, who had started the first three games at that position.

“We’re trying to get the ball in his hands as much as we can,” Martilotta said. “Drinkwater was doing well, but we feel [Allen] gives us a better chance to win. He’s quite an athlete. He made a couple of things happen today.”

Allen completed his last eight passes, going 10 of 11 for 104 yards. He said he took his first snaps as a quarterback since he was a freshman, and had not worked on his passing since mini camp over the summer. But he said he was confident. “I think if I had to, I can play any position on the field,” he said.

Allen took his share of hits from a McGann-Mercy defense that was a tough nut to crack. Pat Marelli made a game-high eight tackles, including one of the Monarchs’ six sacks.

Instead of their first win, the Porters dropped their ninth straight loss dating back to last year.

“It hurts,” Martilotta said. He added, “If we got that first down right there [near the end of the game], we’d be having a different interview right now.”

Meanwhile, these are happy times at McGann-Mercy, where the school is abuzz about what its football team has been doing. The Monarchs started the day in third place. Who knows where they will end up by the time the regular season ends? At this point, it looks like a safe bet that the Monarchs will be making their first playoff appearance since 2007. Their remaining games are against Port Jefferson, Shoreham-Wading River, The Stony Brook School and East Hampton/Bridgehampton/Pierson.

“I didn’t know what to expect, but something like this, I’m just shocked,” Wilson said. “I’m overwhelmed.”

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09/21/12 9:25pm

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island quarterback Matt Drinkwater tries to shake off Babylon’s Alec Zamet.


After the debacle was over and the damage was done, Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island coach Jack Martilotta went about the business of trying to restore flagging spirits. He reminded his players that the sun was going to rise the following morning. It was not the end of the world.

What it was, though, was as unusual a blowout as one will see in high school football.

Traditionally known as a power-running team operating out of the power I, Babylon has undergone a rather dramatic change. Like many other teams — including Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island — Babylon has turned to the spread offense. With athletes like Jake Carlock, Eric Schweitzer and Ray Wardell, it made sense.

“We’re playing to our strength,” Babylon coach Rick Punzone said. “We got to get these kids the ball in space. That’s what’s going to put us over the top.”

Oh, and by the way, Babylon’s defense isn’t too bad, either.

The Panthers showed that when they’re on defense, they not only have the ability to stop the opposing team from scoring, but can score points themselves. Babylon’s defense was responsible for three touchdowns Friday night when the Panthers burst out for 38 points in the opening 8 minutes 30 seconds in a 38-0 romp over Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island.

Fans at Babylon High School saw an interception return for a touchdown, a punt return for a touchdown, a safety off a bad snap, a touchdown pass, another interception return for a touchdown and a fumble return for a touchdown, all within that 8:30 span to break the Suffolk County Division IV game open early.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Martilotta said. “Everything that could have gone wrong in the first quarter did.”

Punzone, who is in his 10th year as Babylon’s coach, said he cannot recall the Panthers having scored that many points in a single quarter before.

It was something Carlock had never seen before. “I don’t remember scoring that much that fast,” he said.

Babylon took starters out of the game during the first quarter. All of the Panthers played, and most of Babylon’s second- and third-string players played two or three quarters, said Punzone.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | The look on Gene Allen’s face told the story as Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island endured a rough night in Babylon.

Carlock said he played only about five minutes before being pulled from the game. He could appreciate what he saw from his teammates on the field as he became a spectator. “We had fun out there,” he said. “We played great.”

Another oddity was the sight of some fans, already assured of the result, leaving Coach Walt Williams Field while the first half was still being played.

Surely, the Porters themselves had seen enough by the time the first quarter finally came to an end. Three Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island turnovers helped fuel the stunning first quarter (the Porters had five turnovers for the game). Babylon (3-0), justifying its No. 3 seeding in the division, held a 17-0 lead before its offense had a chance to snap the ball for the first time.

Carlock already had two touchdowns to his credit by the time 2:51 had elapsed. On the game’s third play from scrimmage, the junior picked off a pass and dashed 25 yards to the end zone. Then, after the Babylon defense held the Porters (0-3) to a three-and-out series, Carlock took a punt back 59 yards for another score.

Things went from bad to worse for the Porters. Their next possession ended when a fourth-down snap flew over punter Matt Drinkwater’s head and through the end zone for a safety.

Before the quarter ended, Alec Zamet tacked on two touchdowns himself. He caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Nick Santorelli and, three plays from scrimmage later, he returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown.

Babylon’s defense came through with more points just two plays from scrimmage after that. Joey Mankiewicz collected a fumble and ran it back 24 yards for the score.

“We heard they were a hard-hitting team and we knew what to expect, but we didn’t expect this,” Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island middle linebacker Connor Andersen said. “I couldn’t believe it was happening, but at that point you can’t put your head down. You got to keep pushing, hit as hard as you can.”

Babylon surely could have added to its scoreboard total, but held off. The Panthers had the ball at the Porters’ 5-yard line in the game’s dying moments. Instead of trying to score, Santorelli took two knees in a sportsmanlike gesture to end the game.

The Porters managed a meager 26 yards of offense — all on the ground. The only first down they earned came late in the third quarter.

It didn’t help that the Porters were missing two players, lineman Tevin Parrish and running back/linebacker Ray Thilberg, to injuries.

On a positive note, the Porters’ defense, led by Sal Loverde’s game-leading 10 tackles, allowed a modest 166 yards.

“It’s hard to stand here after you get mashed in the first quarter like that and say that we’re improving, but the defense looks good,” Martilotta said. “The line played well, I thought. You make that many turnovers in the first quarter, it’s very difficult to come back from” that.

On a humbling night for the Porters, at least one of them could take a degree of consolation in how the players handled themselves under adversity.

“We got a good bunch of kids,” Andersen said. “We weren’t yelling at each other. We kept our heads up and walked off the field with our heads high. I’m proud of our team for that.”

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09/14/12 11:04pm

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island’s Jack Volinski trying to move around Hampton Bays’ Taylor Catz.


It caught the attention of more than a few people during the opening week of the high school football season when Hampton Bays upset two-time defending Long Island Class IV champion Elwood/John Glenn — on John Glenn’s field, nonetheless. Talk about instant credibility.

Then, on Friday night at Greenport High School’s Dorrie Jackson Memorial Field, Hampton Bays gave further evidence of why it is a team to be taken seriously. Fifty points, 399 rushing yards and 507 yards in total offense says a lot.

Playing defense against the Baymen is tricky. For one thing, tacklers have to catch the ball carrier first. Then, once contact is made, they have to bring the ball carrier down. Both tasks are easier said than done.

It was Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island’s turn to experience the pleasure on Friday night. Hampton Bays ball carriers kept churning their legs, pushing forward and grinding out yards.

“Those running backs are something else,” Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island coach Jack Martilotta said. “They were moving the pile. They’re a tough team to stop.”

Two of those running backs, senior Tracey Kennedy and junior Cody Nolan, ran for two first-half touchdowns each as Hampton Bays ran past the Porters, 50-14, in the Suffolk County Division IV game. Seventh-seeded Hampton Bays (2-0) spoiled Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island’s home opener. Eleven ball carriers, led by Kennedy (13 carries, 139 yards), contributed to the team’s rushing total.

Asked what he thought of his team’s performance, Hampton Bays coach Mike Oestreicher replied simply, “Tonight was as expected.”

Hampton Bays scored touchdowns on its first six series of plays, stretching into the third quarter.

The Baymen burst out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and were up, 36-0, by halftime. They got on the scoreboard on their third offensive play and Kennedy’s first touch of the game, a 47-yard dash off the right side.

Just like that, they were off and running.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Ray Thilberg, who scored one of Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island’s touchdowns against Hampton Bays, cooled off on the sideline.

“I knew they were coming out ready to play,” said Ray Thilberg, who played fullback and right outside linebacker for the Porters.

Later in the first quarter, a punt block by Hampton Bays’ Joe Tuttle set up Justin Carbone’s 38-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Catz two plays later. Catz broke a tackle down the right sideline on the play.

Then a sack and a forced fumble by Alex Lane on the same play led to a fumble recovery by Kyle Bennett. That preceded Nolan’s first touchdown, a two-yard run in which he chugged into the end zone with little trouble with 1 minute 17 seconds left in the first quarter.

Touchdown runs by Lane and Tuttle added to Hampton Bays’ point total in the second half.

“They definitely developed into quite an impressive team,” Thilberg said of the Baymen. “Tonight they came out and performed.”

The 11th-seeded Porters (0-2) scored both of their touchdowns after turnovers by Hampton Bays. Ray Thilberg ran 14 yards for a score after a fumble recovery by Will Tondo gave the Porters possession late in the third quarter.

Then, Christian Angelson intercepted a pass and returned it some 50 yards in the other direction, giving the Porters the ball on the Hampton Bays 31-yard line. In four plays, the Porters reached the 7-yard line before Matt Drinkwater (9 of 14, 113 yards) fired a touchdown pass to Sal Loverde.

Martilotta said he saw mistakes by his team, but he also saw progress.

“Mistakes here, a penalty there, a mistake here, a bad snap or a deep sack and all of a sudden, you know, you got a problem. It’s something we’re building on,” he said. “We played hard. We did a lot of things very well. We still got plenty to work on, but we’re improving. We’re improving each week. That’s always the goal.”

Hampton Bays has fielded some strong teams in recent years. Oestreicher, who is in his ninth year as the team’s coach, isn’t comparing the current Hampton Bays team with its predecessors, though. Not yet, anyway.

“This team is this team,” he said. “They’re going to make their own destiny. They’re two weeks into the season, so for me to compare them to teams that have played full seasons, it’s not fair to them. They’re going to decide by the end of the year what kind of team that they are.”

Hampton Bays has reached the playoffs three straight years, something that had never been done before in team history. Obviously, the Baymen have serious talent, as their headline win over Elwood/John Glenn demonstrated.

“That’s a big one,” said Oestreicher. He added: “Maybe it’s our turn. All I know is we had more points at the end of the game.”

Asked how big that win over the Knights was, Carbone answered: “They were two-time defending Long Island champions. That should say enough.”

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09/08/12 12:38am

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Frank Sierra scored two of Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island’s touchdowns against Stony Brook.


The high humidity was taking its toll, particularly on The Stony Brook School players, who were going down, one by one, their leg muscles cramping up as a long football game dragged on. But the press-box view through binoculars provided an especially disconcerting image with 3 minutes 15 seconds left in the third quarter. Don Liotine, who had been having a super game for the Bears, was lying on his back in obvious pain, and it clearly wasn’t cramps. No, it was something more serious than that.

After a while, Liotine made it to his feet and slowly hobbled off the field. It looked like his night was clearly over. What Liotine was dealing with — and has been since preseason practice started last month — was painful shin splints.

Imagine the surprise of some, then, when just a couple of plays later, Liotine was back on the field, making a tackle for no gain, no less. It takes a lot more than shin splints to keep a determined player like Liotine on the sideline.

“I only go down if I break something,” he said. “I got to stay out there. I got to keep the team up.”

Liotine gave Stony Brook a big boost with his inspired play. The senior played with shin splints, but it was Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island that felt the pain on opening night of the 2012 high school football season in Suffolk County.

Shin splints didn’t prevent Liotine from playing in the season opener or from running for four touchdowns and 243 yards in a 38-21 defeat of the visiting Porters on Friday night. It was quite a performance by the player who, aside from the work he did as a running back, made eight tackles and defended three passes as a free safety in addition to blocking a punt. He even kicked a couple of extra points, to boot.

“He’s a great high school football player, man, probably one of the best we’ve had at this school,” said Stony Brook coach Kris Ryan.

The Porters, seeded 11th in Conference IV, unveiled their brand new spread offense with mixed results. Under the direction of sophomore quarterback Matt Drinkwater, who made his first varsity start, the Porters totaled 315 yards of offense and gained 17 first downs. But the Porters completed only 10 of 33 passes for 147 yards. Their first nine passes were incomplete.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island’s Frank Sierra, left, and Willie Riggins, right, converged on Stony Brook running back Don Liotine.

“As the game went on it got better, and I think it will continue to improve,” Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island coach Jack Martilotta said. “It takes practice. It takes time.”

Meanwhile, No. 10 seed Stony Brook managed to overcome 15 penalties and three turnovers with 463 yards of offense. The Bears have quick-strike, big-play ability.

The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Liotine showed his vision, balance and speed on one play when he scored the game’s final touchdown on a dazzling 91-yard run with 2:41 left to play. He also had a pair of 38-yard touchdown runs and seven-yard score in the first half, when the Bears forged a 32-14 lead.

“He’s an amazing kid, and he works hard,” Ryan said. “He’s a workout warrior. His dream is to play college football, and I’m hoping that this season gets it going for him.”

Liotine’s first touchdown run came after he received a direct snap from the Wildcat formation, something Stony Brook turned to last year after losing its top two quarterbacks to injuries. “It’s a way to mix things up,” said Ryan.

Liotine didn’t run like he was hurting, but he was. “You feel it on every cut,” he said.

A passer, Marco Masakayan, and a receiver, Tyler Hoegsberg, also figured prominently in Stony Brook’s victory. Masakayan, the senior quarterback, had missed most of last season with an injury. Playing in his first game since Week 2 of last year, Masakayan accounted for 172 yards on 6-for-15 passing. He threw a pair of touchdown passes to Hoegsberg (three catches, 140 yards). Hoegsberg was wide open behind the Porters’ secondary for both of those scores, covering distances of 51 and 62 yards.

“We believe in our players,” Ryan said. “I learned that they are much better football players than they were last year. They worked hard in the offseason. They bought into what we’re doing here. They believe in the coaches, and they executed, and because of that they are head and shoulders above where they were last year.”

Stony Brook surged to a 25-0 lead before the Porters struck for two touchdowns within a span of 92 seconds late in the second quarter. Frank Sierra (30 carries, 135 yards) carried the ball in untouched from three yards out for the first score. Then, after Jack Volinski recovered a fumble, giving the Porters possession in Stony Brook territory, Drinkwater fired a 20-yard strike to Gene Allen in the end zone.

Sierra picked up a second touchdown for himself, thanks to some alert play on his part. When the ball was jarred loose from a teammate’s hands, Sierra scooped up the fumble and dashed 55 yards to the end zone in the fourth quarter. John Drinkwater’s extra point made it an 11-point game at 32-21, but that was as close as the Porters got. It wasn’t enough for the Porters to avoid losing their sixth straight game, a stretch that goes back to last season.

“There’s a lot of things that we can fix going forward, and we’re going to,” Martilotta said. “We’re going to be successful.”

Speaking of his players, the coach said: “I think they have a lot of heart. I thought that the effort was great. They fought to the very end. They kept their heads up. They have something to be proud of. They didn’t win today. You don’t win every game, but they came out and they played very hard.”

Stony Brook’s defense was bolstered by Ed Kim (11 tackles, one fumble recovery, two passes defended, one sack), Benjamin Fye (nine tackles) and David Jensen (five tackles, three sacks).

“We’re tough,” Liotine said. “We don’t have a lot of size, we don’t have a lot of depth, but we’ll fight. We’re fighters.”

Before the euphoria of victory had worn off, Liotine was asked how he felt and whether he could still feel the pain that comes with the game.

He said, “I’m so exhausted that everything hurts.”

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