Gavin Richards is just happy to be back playing football.
The junior quarterback made the most of his opportunity in the season opener on a beautiful Friday night in Greenport.
Richards went on a quarterback keeper for a 39-yard touchdown run on the Porters' opening drive of the 2021 season. He would add a well-placed 35-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Kaiden Fisher with 24 seconds left in the half for a two-score lead and Greenport/Southold/Mattituck went on to a 20-6 win over Wyandanch in a Suffolk Division IV football game.
"We didn't have a varsity football program last year and the COVID pandemic canceled the season anyway," Richards said. "And then we had a spring season but we only played junior varsity and did well. So this is great to be back playing on the varsity level."
Greenport looked far better than the 2019 version which scored 14 points through an 0-8 season in 2019.
"We have a complete senior-oriented offensive line with experience and we have some athletes," said Tim McArdle, in his ninth year with the program but his first as the head coach. "We needed to come out and have success in our first game and get this program going in the right direction."
The Porters did just that. They opened the game with a five-play, 46-yard touchdown drive to set the tone for their first varsity win in three years.
Ironically it was two Mattituck students, who hooked up for the first scoring pass of the season. Richards found Fisher sprinting behind the secondary for the late second quarter score.
"I saw him open and I just had to get it there," said Richards, after the scoring pass that gave the Porters a 14-0 halftime lead.
Fisher laughed when he heard Richards comment.
"I just caught the ball," he said. "He put it right in my hands."
Greenport used an interception by defensive back Aimen Tabor to set up an early third-quarter score. Tabor returned the ball 31 yards to the Wyandanch one where one play later, fullback Jay Tramontana bulled his way into the end zone for the short touchdown run and a 20-0 lead.
To the credit of the brand new, which was approved by the Board of Education a little more than two weeks ago, Wyandanch should be given tons of respect for traveling two and a half hours to compete Friday night with little practice and a new staff. The program has dealt with enough adversity to shake any program. Three coaching changes in four years, a diminished player roster due to a waning interest in playing football, a potential shutdown of the program because of a lack of funding and the tragic death of a former star player last month has shaken this program.
"Oh man this program has been rocked to its core but we're working hard and the players are responding and we're here tonight in Greenport ready to play," said first-year head coach William Harrison. "We didn't know what it was going to look like. But I think we have some character and we'll stabilize this program and bring it back. It's still early, we're only getting to know the players now. It's not going to be easy but we are determined."
Wyandanch had a drive that lasted 8:21 in the second quarter but stalled at the Porters 17. They got on the scoreboard with 5:43 left in the third quarter when Antoine Ruddock caught a 60-yard scoring pass from DeAndre Smith to make it 20-6.
Wyandanch threatened to make it a one score game and drove to the Porters' 1-yard line early in the fourth quarter. Linebacker Rudy Bruer intercepted a fourth-down pass in the end zone to halt the drive.
Both teams came away with a positive experience and certainly something to build on.