When the topic is success on the football field, the hallmark words are typically speed or strength or precision. Resourcefulness isn’t the glamour term like those are. Nevertheless, that’s what Bayport-Blue Point has shown in spades through three weeks of this season and so it was again on Friday night.
The Phantoms have had an assortment of injury issues at quarterback and they lost another early in their trip to Shoreham-Wading River. They needed three other players to take snaps before the night was over, but Bayport-Blue Point managed to pull out a 35-21 Suffolk IV victory against a very tough Wildcats squad.
“We’ve had so much adversity and the players’ character keeps coming through as they overcome them,” Phantoms coach Mike Zafonte said. “This was such a satisfying win.”
It couldn’t have started worse. Shoreham-Wading River’s Sean Casey returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for touchdown. It ended up making the performances of Maclin Keyser and Brendan Mattimore that much more impressive.
The original blueprint for BBP (3-0) had Keyser as the starting quarterback and Mattimore as his backup. But Mattimore suffered a broken foot in the summer and Keyser broke a finger on his throwing hand during preseason practices. Both saw their first action against SWR (1-2), though not as originally intended. Keyser was supposed to join featured back Daniel Aiello in the backfield and Mattimore was to play special teams.
The plan changed when starting quarterback Cooper Fuller was lost to a broken collarbone early. Keyser, Mattimore and Aiello all ended up taking snaps. Keyser ran the ball exclusively and Mattimore passed exclusively, but BBP still thrived with the Wildcats knowing what was coming.
“They know, so we had to execute,” Zafonte said.
Keyser ended up rushing 28 times for 161 yards, scored touchdowns on runs of 8 and 7 yards and had an interception when the game was tied 14-14 in the third quarter that led to the go-ahead touchdown. Mattimore was 4-for-7 passing for 70 yards and a pair of touchdown strikes to 6-4 Michael Luce. The first went 45 yards and the second – that go-ahead score – went 14 yards.
“He can go up and get it,” Mattimore said of Luce.
Keyser’s broken finger hasn’t healed to the point he can throw and is heavily taped, but he was glad to be on the field.
“Getting hurt put everything in perspective for me,” he said. “It showed me how much I wanted to play and watching our team win the first two from the bench lit a fire in me. When I got tired tonight, that gave me pop.”
Aiello rushed 17 times for 78 yards and had a 3-yard touchdown run in the first quarter that tied the score.
For the ’Cats, Casey had 96 rushing yards on seven carries including a 65-yard touchdown run to go with his opening kickoff return. Liam Kershis had an interception and 68 rushing yards for SWR.
“This team really showed what it’s made of,” Zafonte said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the way they won this.”