DIVISION IV PLAYOFFS | MONARCHS 22, BAYMEN 21
McGann-Mercy head coach Jeff Doroski is no stranger to Long Island football. He’s coached with the big dogs like Longwood and Riverhead. He’s coached in a Long Island championship.
Still, few games in his career could match what unfolded Saturday afternoon against Hampton Bays in the first round of the Division IV playoffs.
“This is one of the best football games I’ve ever been a part of,” Doroski said.
The underdog Monarchs, a team no one gave any thought to at the beginning of the season, pulled of a stunning 22-21 Division IV victory, the first playoff win for the program since 1991. It was the seventh win of the season for the fifth-seeded Monarchs, a total they haven’t matched since 1978.
And they did it with one final defensive play to seal the win.
In a back-and-forth game where the offenses came to life in the fourth quarter, the Baymen scored on a 30-yard pass play with 1:30 left in the fourth quarter. It cut the Monarchs’ lead to one at 22-21. The Baymen, who converted an extra point kick and a two-point conversion in the game, only needed to kick the point after to be likely headed to overtime.
Instead, they went for the win.
Quarterback Justin Carbone doubles as the Baymen’s kicker. He lined up as if they Baymen would kick, but instead they snapped the ball directly to Carbone.
It was the same play the Baymen had successfully used after their previous touchdown.
Only this time, the Monarchs were ready.
Carbone rolled out looking to pass. But the Monarchs stayed disciplined on defense and didn’t allow any receivers to spring free. Carbone had to try to run it in but couldn’t reach the end zone before getting tackled by the Mercy defense, effectively sealing the victory for the Monarchs.
“We were a little bit surprised that they didn’t kick to tie it to go into overtime,” Doroski said. “But we were prepared for the two-point conversion. We’ve watched them on film and they’ve run a couple two-point conversions from that spot.”
The win sends the Monarchs into the semifinals next weekend against No. 1 Babylon, one of only two undefeated teams left in Suffolk County along with Sayville in Division III.
The Monarchs admittedly felt like the underdogs going into Saturday’s game. Hampton Bays (6-3) was coming off a hard-fought game against Mount Sinai (the No. 2 seed in the division) while the Monarchs got beaten up by East Hampton (the No. 8 seed).
“Some people looked at us and said it’s nice, those guys had a good season, but they’re going to be one and done in the playoffs,” Doroski said.
The Monarchs took a different approach.
“We thought we could play with anybody,” Doroski said. “We went into today and said, “Why not us?’ ”
The Monarchs got huge performances on the ground from halfback Tom Kent and quarterback Asaiah Wilson. Kent rushed for 131 yards and the deciding touchdown. He scored on an eight-yard run with 3:10 left in the fourth quarter to make it a 20-15 game. The Monarchs went for two to try to extend the lead to seven and Wilson ran the ball into the end zone.
Halfback Reggie Archer, who got most of the carries this season, missed the team’s final game of the regular season with an injury. While he was back Saturday, the Monarchs had him focus more on defense and left the running game to Kent and Wilson. Archer had eight carries for only 11 yards.
“Kent played out of his mind,” Doroski said. “He ran the ball really well.”
Wilson had a season-high 16 carries and rushed for 79 yards. He scored the Monarchs’ first two touchdowns on one-yard runs.
“His development over the course of the year has been fantastic,” Doroski said. “This game really was his best game we’ve seen him play. He ran the ball very hard today, he made big plays when we needed him to.”
All season Doroski was waiting and hoping to see his team put together a complete effort from start to finish.
It took until Nov. 10, but it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Now the Monarchs will still be playing football the weekend before Thanksgiving, which normally is the date for the county finals.
“It’s kind of a dream season,” Doroski said. “You can’t script it. We have exceeded our expectations.”