The sparkling new turf field at Deer Park High School was completed just in time for Friday night’s 2016 Suffolk II football opener. But it was visiting West Islip that wiped its feet on the welcome mat and made itself feel right at home.
Linebacker Brodie Culkin returned an intercepted middle screen pass 78 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and from there, No. 2 West Islip rolled to a 52-0 victory.
“Our line got a great pass rush and the quarterback threw a bad pass,” said Culkin, a senior, of the first defensive touchdown of his career. “I was on a blitz and I certainly didn’t expect to get the ball thrown right to me. It was a great feeling to score and our whole team got amped up after that.”
The No. 2 Lions were charged up from the start, as Drew Cestaro returned the opening kickoff 41 yards and four plays later, burst through a hole on the right side for a 20-yard touchdown. Kevin DiCapua added the first of his seven extra points.
The Falcons, playing before a full house — which did include a spirited “white-out” student section of Lions students — seemed to have an answer, driving from their own 14 to the West Islip 22. The six-minute drive featured completions of 8 and 14 yards from Jarett Bonser to Tyger Munn and 26 yards from Bonser to Keshaun Jones.
But on fourth-and-12, the Lions’ pass rush harried Bonser, who threw into traffic where Culkin was waiting with nothing but yards of fresh turf ahead of him. “The bad news was that one of our lineman caught up to him,” joked West Islip coach Steve Mileti. “Any time the defense gets you points, you have a good chance of winning.”
That play seemed to demoralize Deer Park, which did not have a sustained drive the rest of the game. West Islip made it 21-0 late in the first quarter on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Jake Guercio to Dylan Carrino. The Lions’ defense struck again on the third play of the second quarter when Mark Cairo recovered a fumble and returned it 24 yards to the Falcons’ 16. After a 15-yard run by Antonio Alicea, West Islip settled for a 30-yard field goal by DiCapua and a 24-0 lead.
Alicea, like most of the starting skill players, didn’t have many touches, but made the most of his. The versatile senior scored on a 22-yard jet sweep and finished with three carries for 49 yards. Also the backup quarterback, Alicea completed both of his passes, including a neat 47-yard scoring strike on a deep sideline pass to Pat Mulcahy that made it 38-0 at halftime.
“I like to try different things and coach knows he can use me any way he wants,” Alicea said.
West Islip sat its starters in the second half and reserve running backs Joey Rota (from the 3) and Thomas Gonzalez (from the 1) added fourth-quarter touchdowns.
“We challenged the kids to continue the tradition of playing with an attitude,” Mileti said. “We’re never the biggest or the fastest team but we play with an edge.”
The Lions had a big edge Friday night.