Last season was atypical for Bellport, a 1-7 season being totally out of character for a school with one of Long Island’s greatest winning traditions. The Clippers of 2015 were like a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone.
Enter Dequan Wilson, a former Bellport resident who spent the last two seasons playing for Comsewogue. The 6-4, 205-pound multi-talented Wilson returned to the Clippers for 2016, and he turned out to be the missing piece. Bellport is once again meaner than a junkyard dog.
Wilson scored the go-ahead touchdown on a jet sweep in the third quarter, broke it open with an electrifying touchdown on a 65-yard interception return and blocked a punt as No. 4 Bellport used a torrid second half to defeat No. 5 Huntington, 34-14, Saturday in a Suffolk III quarterfinal at Bellport.
“He’s fast, he plays hard and he’s really helped us,” coach Joe Cipp III said after his team improved to 8-1. Bellport will play at No. 1 West Islip next Saturday in a Suffolk II semifinal.
That is quite the understatement. Wilson is a big-play receiver with five TD receptions this season, and a big-play safety who roams the field making big hits. And when he ranges back in coverage, look out.
With Bellport leading 26-18, Wilson picked off a deep slant in the middle of the field and took off. He cut to his right and down the sideline, but Huntington’s pursuit caught up inside the 20, forcing Wilson to cut back to his left and lurch into the end zone.
“I had a pick-six called back against Deer Park, so this is the first one I got that counted,” Wilson said. “I was the free safety in a cover-2. I had a good read on the ball and got some great downfield blocks. I like to bring the defense so me. Usually, after I make the first cut, I have them. But I had to make a second cut and I just hoped no one would catch me from behind.”
That score, plus a two-point conversion run by quarterback Jimmy Morrell (96 yards rushing, two touchdowns), completed a sharp second-half turnaround for the Clippers. They had grabbed a 12-0 lead on a 65-yard TD run up the middle by Teandre Rountree (18 carries, 124 yards) on the game’s first play from scrimmage and a 5-yard run by Morrell late in the first quarter.
But Bellport self-destructed in the second period. The Clippers couldn’t capitalize on Wilson’s blocked punt and committed a barrage of penalties that opened the door for the Blue Devils (5-4). Kei’ron Byrams stunned the crowd with an 89-yard touchdown run with 2:11 left in the first half and a minute later, Kyree Johnson got behind the defense for a 58-yard TD pass from John Paci Jr. that produced a 14-12 halftime lead.
“We were down in a playoff game and we responded well, so this was a big test,” Cipp said. “The defense shut them down and the offense avoided mistakes in the second half.”
Ben Erkan made nine tackles, Rocael Reyes added eight and Wilson did it on both sides of the ball. “In the locker room, we looked into each other’s eyes,” said Morrell, who scored his second TD in the fourth quarter, ran for one two-point conversation and passed for another. “We had to stop the stupid penalties.”
And complete the puzzle.