The Farmingdale High School community got a much-needed lift Saturday afternoon. It arrived in the simple form of a football game. And for a couple hours there was a break from the grief.
“This felt like more than just a football game,” senior running back Sal Posillico said. “Right now our community is hurting. If we can be a distraction from the tragedy, then we are helping. The community has always supported us. We want to help.”
Nothing has been routine at Farmingdale since Sept. 21, when a bus carrying members of the school band to a Pennsylvania camp careened off I-84 in upstate Wawayanda and rolled down a 50-foot embankment. Band director Gina Pellettiere, 43, and chaperone Beatrice Ferrari, 77, died, and dozens of students were injured. Last weekend’s football game against Freeport wasn’t played and this past week, funerals were held for Pellettiere and Ferrari.
Port Washington communicated its sympathies to Farmingdale with a number of touching gestures before kickoff. But what followed was just a competitive game between the visiting Dalers and host Vikings. Farmingdale won 34-14 with Posillico rushing for 231 yards and three touchdowns and junior quarterback Dennis Finkel throwing for a pair of scores.
“You get away from the events that took place and come here and it's all gone for two hours,” Farmingdale coach Buddy Krumenacker said. "Now, you’ve got to go back to it, but that's how life works.”
Krumenacker said that Farmingdale was especially touched by the embrace of their host. Large Daler green ribbons wrapped all the trees on the roadway to Port Washington’s football field. The Vikings all donned green socks and the Port Washington cheerleaders had green hair ribbons. There was a moment of silence before the game dedicated to Pellettiere and Ferrari, and a fundraiser was set up to help those affected by the crash.
“That was great — very special — that those people reached out to us,” Krumenacker said. “Forget the competition. Forget the football game. One community reached out to another community — that’s a tremendous gesture.”
“Port Washington did a great job of supporting us, but all of Long Island has been good at being there for us,” Posillico said.
There are Farmingdale players who play in the band after the season and there is a relationship of mutual support between the program and the marching band. “It hit people in different ways, but a lot of people were affected,” Posillico said.
“We were at football practice when we heard and it was weird after that,” Finkel said. “No one knew how to react. . . . You never think something like that can happen.”
Farmingdale, the defending Long Island Class I champion, reacted well after Port Washington opened the scoring with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Iuorio to James Gannon in the second quarter. On the next snap, Posillico went 64 yards for a touchdown and Farmingdale took a 7-6 lead. Posillico added a 10-yard rushing score with 1:57 left in the quarter as the Dalers led 14-6 at the half.
Posillico’s third score — an 18-yard run — came on the first possession of the second half. The Vikings answered with a 42-yard touchdown strike from Iuorio to Jake Siciliano and a two-point conversion to get within 21-14.
Finkel had a 9-yard touchdown pass to Adryan Jimenez in the third quarter and a 4-yard TD pass to James Collins in the fourth. Finkel was 10-for-15 passing for 86 yards.
Nicholas Ragone had an interception for Farmingdale (3-0) in Nassau I.
Iuorio was 6-for-20 passing for 170 yards and Siciliano had three catches for 116 yards for Port Washington (0-4).
Farmingdale hosts Baldwin on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. for homecoming and the band will perform on the field for the first time since the accident. The team hopes that their games can be a rallying place for the people in their community.
“It can be, particularly this community, because everybody embraces football,” Krumenacker said. “Play a home game and there's a lot of people there and a lot of people excited about it. It's kind of a community thing.”
“We say 'Daler Strong’ and it isn’t just a saying — it’s a movement,” Posillico said. “We’re going to be there for our town.”