The Smithtown West cheerleaders were cheering against their own team. Well, kind of.
"We love when they score," cheerleader Julia Gallo said, "but our arms were burning a little."
Each time the Bulls' football team scores, the cheerleaders have to do one push-up for each of Smithtown West's total points. And on Saturday, quarterback Danny Caroussos and the offense put up a lot of points in the first half of Smithtown West's 48-28 win over Centereach in Suffolk II.
"I feel a little bad," said Caroussos, who rushed for 74 yards and three touchdowns and completed 9 of 12 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown. "I want to apologize to the cheerleaders for that."
After Caroussos ran 14 yards untouched into the end zone to open a 34-7 lead with 4:25 remaining in the first half, the cheerleaders had to do 34 push-ups on the sideline. On Centereach's first play from scrimmage on the next drive, Dan Varello intercepted a screen pass and returned it 25 yards for his first varsity touchdown, increasing the lead to 41-7. Arms still burning, the cheerleaders had to do 41 more push-ups.
"The two previous times they ran that play, I thought to myself, 'I might be able to get that if they ever run it again,' '' said Varello, a senior linebacker headed to Syracuse for lacrosse. "I anticipated it and it went right into my hands."
As for those poor cheerleaders?
"That's a good workout," Varello said.
Jimmy Caddigan ran for 62 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown 3:52 into the game. He then intercepted a pass and capped the ensuing drive with a 13-yard stutter-step touchdown run to open a 13-0 lead with 3:28 left in the first.
Caroussos' 25-yard TD run increased the lead to 20-0.
"Our line was clicking all game," Caddigan said of the offensive line, anchored by tackles Joe Punzone and Austin Baiardi. "When there are so many different variables that you can't control as a defense, you don't know what's coming."
Caroussos pump-faked and connected with a leaping Chris Crespo, who had 44 yards on four catches, for a 15-yard touchdown and a 41-7 lead in the third. Joe Garibaldi, who had 10 tackles, made two catches for 62 yards.
"The way we were running the ball," Caroussos said, "opened things up for the passing game."
Nick Juvelier completed 24 of 40 passes for 321 yards and three touchdowns for Centereach (2-1). Mark Pirollo made a dazzling 78-yard touchdown reception, breaking multiple tackles, and finished with 146 yards on eight catches. Justin Eck added two touchdowns on an 11-yard catch and a 17-yard run.
But it wasn't enough against Smithtown West (3-0).
"We were fired up from the get-go," Caddigan said. "I told the cheerleaders after the first touchdown that there's going to be more push-ups coming your way, so get ready."
They did 190 push-ups.
"It hurt pretty bad," cheerleader Diana Rybacki said. "But we didn't want to wimp out on them."