MAHOPAC, N.Y.— It was a new week and a completely different result for Mahopac.
The Indians hammered the Horace Greeley Quakers, 42-0, in their first home game of the season on a humid Friday, Sept. 9, at the high school.
“They are finally clicking,” Mahopac coach Mark Langella said. “They are now understanding the schemes and how to stunt since we do that a lot. I was also really proud of my younger players at linebacker. They are starting to jell better.”
Mahopac raced out of the gate to bury the Quakers by scoring 22 points in the first quarter alone. Senior fullback Dino ‘the Rhino’ Milazzo hightailed it 31 yards for a touchdown to set the tone on the very first drive.
Milazzo came through again with a third down sack of Greeley quarterback Ryan Flanagan to cap a quick three-and-out. Sophomore running back Justin Munoz scampered for a four-yard touchdown run to finish a 29-yard drive.
“After the Ketcham loss we just came out at practice and said ‘Look, we gotta step it up,’” senior lineman Charlie Burt said. “Every player has been hustling and hustling. Nobody has been complaining and the hard work at practice is paying off.”
The high-flying Mahopac offense further showed its colors when senior quarterback Andrew Ryan nimbly escaped a sack to roll out and sling a pass to junior wide receiver Brendan D’Iorio, who busted it 39 yards to the house.
A balanced and rapid rushing attack was a huge boost for the young Indians. The agile Ryan led the way with nine rushes for 72 yards and a touchdown to help the team reach 337 total offensive yards.
“Their defensive line was slow,” Ryan said. “So we just had to run around them and do whatever works. If we can throw and run at the same time it will be hard to defend.”
Milazzo powered his way to 58 yards on nine carries. Junior backup quarterback Ryan Dugan rushed four times to rack up 32 yards and a touchdown. Junior Greg Libertino ran for 26 yards and junior Mark Carey carried one for 11 yards in the dominant team effort.
As for the razzle-dazzle air attack, Ryan passed to an efficient 9 for 11 for 113 yards and a touchdown. The Indians often fired the ball short distances while using their receivers’ speed to push the ball down the field. Dugan also completed his only pass for 16 yards.
Receiver Shane McDonald caught three passes for 31 yards. All-purpose player Libertino hauled in three catches for 28 yards. Senior Brandon Colon caught a pass for 16 yards and sophomore Timmy Cegielski reeled one in for 12 yards.
The Indians’ defense is what guaranteed them this victory though. They acted as a brick wall against the Quakers’ rushing attack all game long and also chased Flanagan down for a safety in their monster first quarter.
Senior cornerback Ryan Hoyt snagged an interception off a sideline pass in Mahopac territory and bolted back 28 yards. Seniors Burt and Kamil Sudol had four total tackles each. Libertino made five tackles total.
Libertino was even more of a threat though on special teams. The senior took four punt returns for 130 yards to add to his overwhelming 194 all-purpose yards. Libertino highlighted the night by dicing through defenders and jetting 75 yards for a punt return touchdown late in the third quarter.
Libertino also returned a punt for a touchdown in the Indians’ season opener at Roy C. Ketcham.
“I think that is the most returns for touchdowns already in the last 20 years here at Mahopac,” Langella said. “It’s kind of funny how the referee said that if he wants a fair catch he should raise his hand. He turned around to the ref and said, ‘I’m bringing it to the house.’ The ref asked, Which way? And he said, ‘To the left’. That’s exactly what he did.”
The very beginning of the game was actually a scary moment when senior Evan Purdy scooped up the opening kick return and was tackled hard in the side. An ambulance arrived to escort Purdy, who had a dislocated patella.
“Supposedly the status is that he is going to come back no problem,” Langella said. “He went in and they popped it back him. It happens sometimes.”
Mahopac (1-1) believes it can use this blowout win to forget about a 43-23 season-opening loss at Ketcham and dial in on archrival Carmel at the Rams’ homecoming this Friday night at 6 p.m. The Rams got the best of the Indians last season and Mahopac is looking to avenge the loss, and regain the Bryan Higgins Memorial Trophy.
“This is definitely a big confidence builder,” Burt said. “We came out hard hitting with an up-tempo and it was our game from the start. We can definitely make this a winning season if we keep putting in the hard work and building as a team to move forward.”