09/29/12 6:22pm
09/29/2012 6:22 PM

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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10/28/11 11:00pm
10/28/2011 11:00 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Bishop McGann-Mercy's freshman running back, Reggie Archer, slipped past a Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island player during Friday night's game.


Amid the jubilation on Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School’s soft, muddy Harold T. Murray Memorial Field, Keith Schroeher received a piece of advice from one of the Monarchs’ assistant coaches. That coach, who also happens to be Schroeher’s father and goes by the same first name, urged his son to look at the scoreboard, look at the field, and take in the scene.

It was a lot for the younger Schroeher to commit to his memory bank, a lot of good stuff.

Schroeher saved his best for last. His final high school football game was his best, he said, and who could argue the point?

Because of a troublesome ankle, the Monarchs didn’t have Pat Stepnoski, who is generally regarded as the team’s best player, so they turned to Schroeher in their final game of the season. Schroeher, one of the team’s 10 seniors who were recognized in a ceremony before the game, responded in a big way. He was involved in four touchdowns, throwing three touchdown passes within a span of 2 minutes 4 seconds late in the second quarter of a 28-23 defeat of Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island on Friday night.

“It’s nice to see him have a game like that on Senior Night in a big rivalry type game against Greenport,” said Jeff Doroski, whose first season as the McGann-Mercy coach ended with a 3-5 record in Suffolk County Division IV. “To make that the last memory he’s going to have of Mercy football, you can’t ask for much more than that.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Tomasz Filipkowski ran in Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island's first touchdown.

On a night when the Monarchs needed to go to the air, Schroeher was the difference-maker. He did much of his damage during that 124-second span in the second quarter when the game changed.

Schroeher connected on touchdown passes of 35 yards to Reggie Archer and 30 yards to Mario Burriesci within 26 seconds of each other, giving McGann-Mercy a 22-16 lead. In between those scores was an onside kick by Schroeher that Bernard Schrage collected for the Monarchs.

Then, after a Greenport punt hit the back of a lineman and was recovered by Christian Lynch at the Greenport 35-yard line, Schroeher found a streaking Schrage down the middle for a scoring play of that distance with 6.9 seconds left in the half, making the score 28-16.

“He really kind of carried us offensively, delivering the ball to guys and putting the ball in places where they could make plays,” said Doroski,

Earlier, Schroeher had scrambled six yards for McGann-Mercy’s first touchdown. He also ran in a pair of two-point conversions.

Schroeher was 8 of 16 passing for 165 yards and no interceptions. (By contrast, Greenport did not complete a single pass in eight attempts.)

It was Schroeher’s inspired play that helped the Monarchs overcome 11 penalties that cost them 109 yards.

“Every team has more than one weapon,” Greenport senior Ryan Malone said. “As you can see, they have more than one weapon.”

Malone ran for two touchdowns and gathered 236 yards from 39 carries. The Porters (1-7) totaled 287 yards worth of offense.

Tomasz Filipkowski ran in Greenport’s first touchdown.

Malone said he was trying to make the most of his final high school game “because this is never going to happen again. This is it, so [try] taking every single memory of every single moment. I think I did.”

Malone ran for his second touchdown of the game 3:02 into the third quarter. Greg Fedun’s extra point made it a five-point game. But that was as close as Greenport got as the McGann-Mercy defense held tough. That defense was spearheaded by Jack Strnad, who had 11 tackles and a sack.

“He’s great,” Schroeher said. “You tell him to run through a brick wall, he’ll do it for you — if he likes you.”

Despite the fact that both teams didn’t have playoffs to play for, they brought intensity. That was evidenced by a fight on the field that led to the ejections of Greenport’s Ray Thilberg and McGann-Mercy’s Paolo Foscolo with 3:14 left in the first quarter.

“You never like to see anything like that, but it is intense,” Doroski said. “Those guys are fighting to improve themselves. We’re fighting to get better. Sometimes your emotions get the best of you out there, and unfortunately situations like that happen.”

Being that it is a rivalry game may have played into it, too. In addition, there is a connection between the two programs in Ken Marelli. The McGann-Mercy assistant coach is a former Greenport head coach.

A fumble recovery by Codey Fisher gave Greenport the ball at its own 42 with 2:06 remaining in the game. But the Porters lost yards on that series before McGann-Mercy’s Rudfil Paul Jr.’s interception with 57.1 seconds left allowed the Monarchs to run out the clock.

“We didn’t get as may wins as we wanted, to be certain, but I think just watching the game anyone could see we’ve come a long way,” said Greenport coach Jack Martilotta, who says goodbye to four seniors with multiple years of varsity experience in Zach Apleskog, Connor Guditus, Fedun and Malone. “The kids are playing much better football. It’s going to hurt to lose those four kids, but we’ve got a real good nucleus of kids coming back next year. I’m expecting big things.”

Schroeher will not be around next year to see how the Monarchs progress. That thought had not really sunk in for him a half-hour after the game. The excitement of victory hadn’t had a chance to wear off.

“I’m going to miss it,” he said. “It hasn’t really hit me yet because I’m all amped up, but once I get in the car and I feel all the bumps and bruises, I’m going be like, ‘Damn, it’s over.’ ”
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09/17/11 4:42pm
09/17/2011 4:42 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River running back Dylan Bates was brought down by Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island's Connor Malone (No. 1) and Chris Schantz at the Porters' 4-yard line.

Last year, during a dreadful 0-8 high school football season, the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats received quite a bit of criticism. They were shut out four times and managed a less-than-grand total of four touchdowns and 30 points the entire season. At times the scoreboard was turned off at halftime of games.

The Wildcats had a number of issues to deal with last season: being moved up to Suffolk County Division III, sometimes having as few as 19 players available, injuries, inexperience. A perfect storm led to an imperfect season.

Not only were the Wildcats feeling the heat, but a lot of it was coming from within their own school. Matt Millheiser, the team’s second-year coach who was a quarterback on Shoreham’s early teams, remembers people asking him: “What’s going on? You’re 0 and 8?”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Chris Mahoney of Shoreham-Wading River reached for a pass while Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island's Connor Malone defended.

Those same people may soon start asking, in all sincerity, if the Wildcats will reach the playoffs this year.

“I’m sure you’re going to get that and I’m sure there’s going to be a bandwagon,” Millheiser said. “Maybe these stands will fill up a little bit more.”

A local pizza parlor offered the Wildcats free pizza if they posted a shutout on Saturday. Don’t underestimate the motivating power of pizza.

Dylan Bates ran for two touchdowns and Scott Lavey collected his first two career interceptions as the Wildcats brought their 2011 record to 2-0 with a 19-0 shutout of the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island Porters.

Now the Wildcats have a winning streak. How about that?

“I think we’re going to be pretty damn good this year,” said Lavey, a junior cornerback who made a spectacular diving catch for his second interception with 2 minutes 51 seconds remaining.

And how about that defense? The stingy Wildcats have conceded only six points so far, those coming in their season-opening blowout of the Southampton Mariners.

On Saturday, the Wildcats limited the Porters to 123 yards of total offense. Not bad, especially for a team that gave up at least 32 points a game last year. Tyler Anderson was responsible for eight tackles, three of Shoreham’s four sacks and an interception himself.

Millheiser believes better things are yet to come.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Joe Longo reached across the goal line on a four-yard run, giving Shoreham-Wading River a 6-0 lead early in the second quarter.

“We’re getting there,” he said. “We’re a work in progress. Today was a tremendous effort. We told them it was going to be a battle. We didn’t tackle well today, but that’s a testament. They had some hard runners and some good athletes. They’re going to make you miss. I don’t think we still put it all together.”

Bates scored on runs of 31 and 63 yards, the later coming with 2:38 left to play in the Division IV game in Shoreham. He rushed for 140 yards from 16 carries. On the defensive side, Bates had six and a half tackles, a fumble recovery, a sack and two passes defended.

Bates has scored four touchdowns already this season, three on runs and another on a fumble return.

Joe Longo ran the ball in from four yards out for Shoreham’s first score 29 seconds into the second quarter.

In the scheme of things, it was a vital game for the Porters (0-2) in terms of their hopes for a return to the playoffs.

“This game was real big, real big playoff implications right here,” said Chris Schantz, who led the Porters’ defense with seven and a half tackles and one sack from his middle linebacker position.

It might turn out to be the biggest game of the regular season for the Porters, who face a tough schedule as the No. 6 seed.

“They’re all big games when you only have eight, and this was one I was hoping we were going to come away with, but it didn’t happen,” Porters Coach Jack Martilotta said. “The kids put out a really good effort, showed a lot of heart. Sometimes at the end of the day that’s not enough.”

The Porters, coming off a pounding in Babylon eight days earlier, made some strides, but it wasn’t enough. Although the defensive showing was good, the Porters’ offense had some hiccups. Four of its drives ended on turnovers, two of them setting up touchdowns.

“A big letdown,” Schantz said. “I thought this was going to be a winnable game for us. I thought that we were going to be in there, but …”

Meanwhile, life is undeniably more enjoyable these days for the Wildcats.

“It is a dramatic change,” Millheiser said. “The kids never quit last year; they always fought. That’s something we noticed, the fans noticed, everybody noticed, and now that they’re having some success, that same fighting attitude is finishing games instead of just hanging around and keeping your head up. Now we’re winning the games.”

Bring on the pizza.

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