PATERSON, NJ- In the semi-final round of the Elite Football Alliance League playoffs, Paterson’s amateur football team, the Silk City Sharks, took full advantage of their home field nod by registering a 34-8 blowout against the Long Island Mercenaries. The contest marked the third time the teams have faced off this season with each Sharks’ victory becoming more convincing.
The well-balanced offensive and defensive effort was capped off by one final aquatic attack with two minutes left to play. The team’s large, orange water bucket, filled with freezing ice, was poured on an unsuspecting Sharks’ Head Coach Charles “Cowboy” Mills by jubilant players.
Only allowing a late score, the mighty fish defense kept Long Island out of the water for the entire evening. Bilal Clark, John Burton, and Jaquise Enzor anchored the interior line, while Syheem Farrar, Jason Jackson, Steven Knight, and Dennis Chapman earned their fins by controlling play from their line backing or end positions. Rufus Carroll, Messiah Quinones, Dashon Johnson, Mikal Dixon, Jaquan McCants, and Prince Block patrolled the secondary.
The Mercenaries received the opening kickoff, gaining good field position near the 50-yard line. A tackle by Clark and a duo-stop for a loss by Enzor and Burton forced a Long Island punt which rolled to the Sharks’ 15.
Paterson’s offense served notice that they were out to win immediately as on the first play from scrimmage 38-year old Rufus ‘The Ageless Wonder’ Carroll followed a wall of blockers and skirted around left end for a first down. Huffin then managed to elude a horde of Long Island pass rushers, scooted left, and tip-toed down the sideline for a nice gain, yet came up short to move the chains. Forced to punt, the Sharks’ Raheed Isom, from his own 20-yard line, delivered a perfect kick which would foreshadow his excellent performance for the entire evening. The ball carried at least 55 yards in the air and bounced for 10 more to the Mercenaries’ three yard line.
Long Island, with several successful runs, managed to extricate themselves from goal line peril. However, tackles by Farrar and Burton were complimented by a pass deflection, courtesy of the tandem of Block and Johnson. The Mercenaries again had no choice but to punt.
The next play could be called the turning point of the game. The Long Island punter received the hike but had trouble controlling the ball. In an ill-advised effort to avoid being tackled, the kicker passed the ball up the middle into heavy traffic. However, rather than connect with his intended receiver, the aerial was intercepted by the Sharks’ Burton. Running left to right, Burton cut up field and rumbled into the end zone for the score. Although the two-point extra run failed, the Sharks’ first blood resulted in a 6-0 lead.
Following a shoe-string tackle by Carroll on the ensuing kickoff, Quinones literally body-slammed a Mercenaries’ ball carrier on a Long Island running attempt. Soon thereafter, Carroll, deep for the Sharks for a Long Island punt, caught the ball on the fly, momentarily danced around, and sped up the left sideline for a 32-yard return. On second down from the 15, Huffin from the shotgun, spurted up the middle and similar to a chess match, shifted left, then right, to avoid would be tacklers and cruise into the end zone. The Sharks’ Kevin Viecco, with former John F. Kennedy High School star Marquise Marrero holding, followed by booting the first of his four perfect extra points.
On Long Island’s next possession a nice pass completion over the middle marked what appeared to be the start of a promising drive.
However, a blitz and stop by Isom was followed by stick-like-glue coverage by Paterson’s Dixon on a long bomb attempt down the left sideline. Another stonewall tackle by Bilal and a near interception by Carroll forced a Long Island punt which gave the Sharks a first down on their own 13-yard line. Several successful runs by Carroll followed but the first half clock ran out.
The second half was opened by a length of the field TD drive by the Sharks highlighted by several dynamic pass-receptions and runs. The following Paterson defensive stand featured a hard hit by Johnson on a Mercenaries’ receiver which jarred the ball loose. A fierce rush by the Sharks’ Renaldo Algarin forced a hurried pass which led to another Mercenaries’ punt. The kick was shanked and traveled a mere 15 yards providing excellent field position for the fish.
With a Sharks’ first and ten at the Long Island 32, Huffin kept the ball and jetted up-field. Breaking through the secondary, yet faced with a one-on-one challenge by a Mercenaries’ defender at the five yard line, Huffin leapt high in the air, Jesse Owens style, and literally hurdled his adversary for the score.
The spectacular score and subsequent extra point provided the Sharks with a comfortable 27-0 lead.
On the following kickoff, Algarin continued his stellar play by knocking the Long Island return man out of bounds at the Mercenaries’ 29-yard line. Soon thereafter, the Mercenaries coughed up the football. Paterson’s Knight alertly picked up the pigskin and raced 44 yards for a touchdown. The Sharks’ last score proved to be the final nail in Long Island’s coffin.
With 6:00 left on the clock, a Mercenaries’ receiver managed to slip behind the Sharks’ secondary. The completed pass resulted in a beautiful 78-yard reception and scoring run. A final highlight saw the Sharks’ coaching staff give lineman Bilal an opportunity to run the ball. Looking like an oncoming freight train, the trench warrior actually turned in a sensational run of eight yards
Following the victory, Quinones said that playing the Mercenaries for the third time was an advantage.
“We pretty much knew what they were going to do,” the former Eastside High School and Concord University (West Virginia) stated.
Johnson summarized the year’s rivalry against the Mercenaries.
“The first game went down to the wire,” the free-safety stated. “In the second game we pulled away in the second half. Tonight we just took care of business.”
Former Hackensack High School star Joshua Dubose summarized the crucial win.
“This was well earned and well deserved,” the Sharks’ linebacker stated.
The Sharks’ play for the league championship against the Long Island Red Devils on Sunday, at Flowers Park in New Rochelle. In addition to bringing home the trophy Paterson’s team will be looking to avenge the lone blemish on their season, a 36-14 loss earlier this season against Long Island.
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