WEST NYACK, N.Y.— The 2016 Mahopac football season has not gone as drawn up, but the young Indians are learning every day, even from their 24-6 loss to host Clarkstown South in the Class AA qualifying round on Oct. 14.
“We need to continue to get our fundamentals down,” Mahopac coach Mark Langella said. “A lot of it is fundamental breakdowns on offense. Throwing the ball on time and dropped balls. Overall, we are getting better, but we can’t give a team like that the ball on our side of the field 80 percent of the time. We need to continue to jell on offense.”
Long-snapper and all-purpose player Greg Libertino sat out after suffering a concussion in the prior game against John Jay-East Fishkill. New snappers changed the punting style of Dennis Dowd (four punts for 97 yards) and gave the third-seeded Vikings excellent field position all night long.
“I was disappointed in how we played,” Langella said. “We didn’t come out with the intensity on offense that we needed to in order to win. It stalled with drops on third downs and in critical situations.”
No. 14 Mahopac was never able to get into a groove, only putting up 210 total yards of offense with 96 coming through the air. The tone was set after Clarkstown South led 14-0 after one quarter of play, but the Indians’ defense hung in there by preventing any other score until the fourth quarter.
“The defense played very well other than some missed tackles,” Langella said. “The secondary did well too. We lead the league in interceptions, but we just couldn’t sustain offensive drives. We were sometimes on their 25-yard line and we would turn the ball over on downs.”
Junior cornerback Anthony Ocello hasn’t slowed down after picking off his third pass in two games. Senior Matthew Schech scooped up a Clarkstown South fumble and junior Alex DiCioccio wedged through for a sack.
Senior Dino Milazzo paced Mahopac both defensively and offensively. Milazzo made six solo tackles and rushed for 77 yards on 15 carries. Junior Brendan Diorio hustled for seven tackles. Sophomore linebacker Timmy Cegielski and senior Shane McDonald each made six tackles.
“Even though our record is not the best we definitely improved in areas we were weak in,” Libertino said. “Such as pass defense and tackling.”
McDonald also caught two passes for 29 yards while junior Chris Dalo snagged one for 26 yards. Senior Andrew Blecker reeled a throw in from 16 yards out and sophomore wide receiver Reahl Allen hauled in three passes for 14 yards and a touchdown, which came during the fourth quarter.
Junior quarterback Ryan Dugan launched 21 passes for seven completions and 57 yards. He had a touchdown and interception. Senior Andrew Ryan was sharp, passing for 39 yards while connecting on all three of his passes. Ryan also returned two kickoffs for a total of 60 yards.
The Indians (2-5) will have the privilege of taking their home field one final time this season in a consolation game against the White Plains Tigers on Friday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. at the high school.
“Having one more game at home is unbelievable,” senior lineman Charlie Burt said. “I couldn’t ask for a better way to end the season and we look forward to coming out intense no matter who we play to make sure we defend our house one last time. We just have to come out hard at practice and hope for the best. Play Mahopac football the way it should be played and go out with a bang—passionate and relentless.”
Libertino, who seems certain to play this Friday, has similar thoughts as a senior himself.
“This means a lot to get one more game on our home turf,” Libertino said. “So that we can have a chance to end it the right way. I won’t miss playing in this game for anything.”