Sullivan West 26
LAKE HUNTINGTON—Of all the attributes that contribute to success, none is more essential than heart. …
Sullivan West 26
LAKE HUNTINGTON—Of all the attributes that contribute to success, none is more essential than heart. For it is heart, even more than talent, that fuels belief and courage, the weaponry most vital in the face of great challenges. And it was heart that the Sullivan West Bulldogs showed time and time again in their momentous opening night 26-22 victory over a very talented Spackenkill Spartans team. Heart it was that gave them the moxie to come back twice from scoreboard deficits. Moreover, it was heart that had fueled the practices and the rigor to prepare to take on a team most pundits thought would beat them handily. The game was riveting, both from its shifting dynamics and its heroics.
To wit, enter sophomore Jacob Hubert, bursting onto the varsity scene directly from Modified football, a team coached by Shane Cruz. When it came to heart and grit, Hubert stepped up big time, taking advantage of Sullivan West’s imposing and beefy line led by senior standout Chris Campanelli, to evince his impressive varsity debut with 20 carries for 120 yards and one touchdown. Coach Cruz has been telling this writer that his cadre of players who he has been coaching since they were kids, would be the next wave that would carry the Bullldogs back to the days of past ascendancy. With Hubert, his son Rally and others including Jacob Halloran, the Bulldogs now have an infusion of new blood to bolster there already talented core of seniors comprised of Campanelli, Quarterback Gavin Hauschild and running back Tarrell Spencer. It would be too lengthy here to mention others who played their part in a game that Assistant Coach Justin Diehl noted showed the team’s “tenacity and composure.”
Spack won the toss and elected to defer. Both teams failed to score in the early going.
Aside from a thunderous running game that kept the Spartans’ defense on their heels all night long, Sullivan West unveiled a punishing and aggressive defense that stymied a running game one would have thought to be menacing. It wasn’t. In the air Spackenkill showed some success, unveiled first by an early fourth-down 35-yard touchdown toss by quarterback Anthony Hoyt to tight end Kevin Mullins. The conversion gave them an 8-0 lead. For the Bulldogs it was frustrating given their success of keeping the Spartans at bay prior to that play. To their credit, they shook it off.
Late in the first quarter with only 17 seconds remaining, the Bulldogs pulled a stunner out of their collective helmets. Appearing to walk off and let time expire, Sullivan West tricked the Spartans into thinking the same. Then the Dawgs rushed out on the field, got into formation and Hubert scampered in for the TD. The conversion failed but the Westies were quite alive trailing 8-6 when the quarter ended. Neither team scored again in the first half. Sullivan West’s defense continued to keep Spackenkill corralled.
The Dawgs forced a three and out on Spack’s first possession of the third quarter. With no success in the few passes they attempted, the Westies relied on the running of Hubert, Spencer and Cruz to rack up first downs as they marched steadily down the field. With 2:17 remaining in the quarter, Hauschild barreled into the endzone to give SW its first lead at 12-8. The conversion failed. The entire third quarter the Westies’ defense neutralized Spackenkill, a team that lost only one game last year, a defeat at the hands of eventual champion Pawling who decimated Roscoe/LM 34-0. The Dawgs took that 12-8 lead into the fourth quarter. Then Spack struck again, this time on a screen pass to tight end Antonio Lopez who galloped 45 yards to give the Spartans a 14-12 lead. They added the conversion to marshal a four-point edge. Back to their running prowess went the Westies with Hubert, Hauschild and Spencer. The latter seemed to really get it going as the game progressed. With 5:13 to go in the game, Hauschild carried it in from the two-yard line to make it 18-12. He ran in the conversion and the Dawgs now led 20-16. Now the defense stepped it up a notch as Jakob Halloran forced a Spack fumble and Spencer recovered it. With a steady dose of Spencer runs culminating in a five-yard TD by the speedy senior, SW extended the lead to 26-16. Again, the conversion came up short. With 1:23 left, Hoyt hit Mullin again to close the gap to 26-22. SW ran out the clock to propel their record to 1-0. They have a bye next week due to Millbrook’s choice to not field a team this year. Week three will feature a road clash with Tri-Valley who defeated Onteora 36-6. Head Coach Ron Bauer was impressed with his team’s poise and praised the line play on both sides of the ball. “We had two long sustained drives that led to scores,” he noted. Assistant Coach Justin Diehl touted the win as the biggest home victory in recent years. “The boys came out and played four hard-nosed aggressive quarters and we came out on top because of it.”
As the old standby song posits, “You’ve gotta have heart.” The Dawgs have it and they’ll need it for the daunting road ahead.
Sullivan West Stats:
Rushing: Jacob Hubert 20/122 and one TD; Tarrell Spencer 12/60 and one TD. Gavin Hauschild 19/55 and one TD. Rally Cruz 9/17.
Defense: Halloran six tackles and a forced fumble. Chris Campanelli 5 tackles; Jaymes Buddenhagen 4 tackles. Tarrell Spencer one fumble recovery.