UPDATE (Oct. 31, 6:15 p.m.): McGann-Mercy finished in 8th place in Division IV to earn the final seed in the playoffs. The Monarchs edged out Port Jefferson for the final spot. Mercy tallied 107.45 power points while Port Jefferson, losers against Bayport-Blue Point Saturday, finished with 106.45.
Mercy will play against No. 1 Shoreham-Wading River in the first round of playoffs.
Original Story: No sooner had the football game ended when the waiting game began.
After meeting with his players following Friday night’s game, the first question a reporter popped Jeff Doroski’s way was an obvious one: So, are you guys in the playoffs?
“In my mind, yeah, we’re in,” answered the Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School football coach.
Of course, because of a slate of games remaining to be played the following day and the intricacies of Suffolk County’s power-rating system, it was impossible to say for sure whether the Monarchs will reach the playoffs for the third time in four years. The Monarchs, who were seeded eighth before the season, will have to wait. Doroski said he hoped to learn Saturday night or Sunday whether or not his team finished among the top eight Suffolk Division IV teams that will gain entry into the postseason.
McGann-Mercy and Greenport/Southold/Mattituck both took 3-4 records into their final regular-season game on Friday night, along with uncertainty about being able to extend their seasons. One thing both teams knew for sure was that a loss would close the door on their chances.
It was the Monarchs, with their vaunted passing game, who walked away from Greenport High School’s Dorrie Jackson Memorial Field with their hopes alive, thanks to a 21-0 shutout victory. Their strong-armed quarterback, Kevin Santacroce, was directly involved in all three touchdowns, which came before halftime. The 6-foot-3 senior passed for two touchdowns and ran another in himself.
Santacroce, who has passed for about 1,500 yards this season, added 232 yards to his total on 16-of-29 passing. He was intercepted once.
The Porters fumbled the ball away three times, twice in the first quarter, setting up McGann-Mercy’s first two touchdowns.
Marco Sciara, a senior receiver and defensive back who missed McGann-Mercy’s last two games with a shoulder injury, starred in his return. Sciara lives in East Marion and did not want to miss playing against the rival Porters.
The Monarchs are sure glad he didn’t. Sciara caught eight passes for 124 yards, including an 11-yarder for the first touchdown. A 41-yard reception by Sciara highlighted the drive leading up to the score.
Sciara was targeted 13 times, dropped two passes (one in the end zone) and had another one glance off his fingertips.
The Porters fumbled on their next offensive play and Sam Schrage came up with the ball for the Monarchs. On the ensuing play, Santacroce led Sciara on a route along the sideline for a 34-yard gain that took him to the Porters’ 1-yard line before Garrett Malave brought him down. Then Santacroce carried the ball in on a quarterback sneak.
On a fourth-and-five play late in the second quarter, Santacroce, standing back in punt formation, threw a pass to Jack Pavelchak for 23 yards and a first down. On the next play, Nick Kneski made a great catch for an additional 37 yards. Shortly after that, Pavelchak made a neat sliding catch in the end zone with 12.4 seconds left in the half. Andrew Waski’s extra point made it 21-0.
The kind of night it was for the Porters was exemplified by their final offensive series of the season. Dominick Panetta’s interception gave the Porters the ball at McGann-Mercy’s 22. A 15-yard penalty set them back. Then, Dylan Marlborough connected on a 22-yard pass to Panetta, who fumbled. Malave, however, was in place to fall on the ball, giving the Porters first and goal from the 1.
After a Monarchs offside penalty moved the ball inside the 1, the Porters proceeded to go in the wrong direction. They lost 19 yards in four plays.
The Monarchs’ defense received nine tackles from Jared Velez and eight from Joe Luisi. Santacroce, in addition to his six tackles, recovered two fumbles and deflected two passes.
The Porters got off to a promising 3-1 start to the season, only to see their offense stagnate and struggle. They failed to score a point in the last four games — the second half of the season.
It was a tough ending for the Porters and their eight seniors. When the game ended, a touching scene developed when the seniors walked over to their coach, Jack Martilotta, and hugged him.
The Monarchs hope they have at least one more game to play before turning in their equipment.
“We’ll see,” Doroski said. “We’ll see how it all goes down.”
Photo Caption: Bishop McGann-Mercy quarterback Kevin Santacroce, passing over Greenport/Southold/Mattituck’s Tyler Corrigan, threw for 232 yards and two touchdowns. (Credit: Garret Meade)