Football: Playoffs!?! Monarchs think, just maybe

JOHN NEELY FILE PHOTO | Bishop McGann-Mercy coach Jeff Doroski made a point to Jack Strnad during an early-season game.

Considering where the Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School football team was last season, it speaks volumes that the Monarchs can even contemplate the possibility of playoffs with two regular-season games remaining.

“We’re happy with what we’ve accomplished to this point, but we’d like to accomplish more the last two games,” said coach Jeff Doroski.

McGann-Mercy faced a tall order Friday night in the form of the Mount Sinai Mustangs. Peter Natale ran for two touchdowns and Austin Hogan passed for two more as Mount Sinai took a 28-0 halftime lead en route to a 35-0 shutout in the Suffolk County Division IV game in Riverhead.

The Monarchs (2-4) knew what they were up against in the Mustangs (5-1), who include among their coaching staff an assistant, Adam DeWitt, a former Monarchs head coach.

“What we saw on Saturday night was what we expected,” Doroski said. “They’re good. They’re a top four program in our division.”

It didn’t help the Monarchs that they were without their best player, Pat Stepnoski, and two senior linemen, James Edmonds and Anthony Heppner.

Stepnoski, a senior running back/linebacker, rolled an ankle a week earlier against the Hampton Bays Baymen. Edmonds and Heppner had both gone down with knee injuries, and the Monarchs learned last week that they would both be lost for the remainder of the season.

Doroski said Stepnoski felt better on Friday than he did all week and tried to talk his way into the game. The coach said the chances of Stepnoski playing on Saturday at Shoreham-Wading River High School are “probably 85 to 90 percent.”

In Stepnoski’s absence, freshman Reggie Archer, who had gotten sporadic carries earlier in the season, made his first start on offense and did a good job, said Doroski.

With the loss of Edmonds and Heppner, Brian Murray played offensive tackle and defensive end. In addition, two sophomores, Kurt Bahkne and Pat Rossi, were brought up from the junior varsity team and saw time playing on special teams and defense.

Following Saturday’s game against Shoreham (5-1), the Monarchs will close out their regular season at home against their rivals, the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island Porters (1-5).

So, Coach Doroski, what about reaching the playoffs?

“You never know in this division,” he said. “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves here. Our most important game is Saturday. If you want to keep your playoff hopes alive, your next game is going to be your most important game.”