Sewanhaka Indians Head football coach George Kasimatis told his team to expect a dogfight in last week’s game against the New Hyde Park Gladiators, and he was right after its 35-21 victory.
“All the kids know each other really well, it’s always competitive when we play each other,” he said.
The Indians came in standing at 3-1, and in all three victories, were able to rely on the run game to jump out to an early lead. That would not be the case, as the Gladiators defense would hold up, forcing a three and out for the Indians on the first possession.
Elijah Tracey would pick up the interception to get the ball back for the Indians, but the offense continued to stall. The Gladiators defensive line looked stout as they consecutively stuffed Indians running back Brenton Mighty and Tracey in the backfield.
On their second possession, Mighty fumbled and it was returned 35-yards by Gladiators defensive back Joe Pagan for the touchdown to put them up, 7-0.
Both defenses would hold up until the second quarter, when the Indians used Shaheim Taylor-White as a runner to get into the red zone, before handing it to Mighty, who punched it in to tie the game, 7-7.
The Gladiators jumped out in the second half as Joe Gardella had a long catch and run to set up a touchdown pass from quarterback Tom Kemmet to Mark Chambers.
The Indians offense then caught fire, as a 53-yard catch and run touchdown by Michael Parasconda, followed by Mighty punching it in for two.
“We made adjustments at halftime,” Kasimatis said. “We were making some errors on the offensive line, and once we corrected that we were able to run more effectively.”
After the Indians defense, lead by Justin Alexandre, leveled Chambers to force, and recover, the fumble, stealing the momentum and allowing the offense to pick up where they left off. On the next play, Mighty found a gapping hole up the middle, for a 25-yard touchdown.
Alexandre lived in the backfield on the Gladiators next possession, stopping the run for a loss, before getting a big hit on No. 12 picking up the sack and setting back the Gladiators 7 yards.
“Our D-line is a big strength for us,” said Kasimatis. “The guys work hard and they gel well.”
The Indians would then start on their own 26, where Tracey scampered, found a hole and rushed for 54 yards. He was not done, however, as the Indians then had the ball on the Gladiators 21-yard line, when Tracey felt pressure in the pocket and scrambled to his right.
With pressure in his face he pump faked, forcing the defender to leave his feet, creating space, and Tracey ran to the outside for a 20-yard gain. On the next play he would keep the ball and punch it in for the score.
A 24-yard score from Tracey to Parasconda on a slant route across the middle would make it a three-possession game. The Gladiators continued to fight hard, and Justice Smith would find the end zone, but it proved to be too little, too late.
The Indians now sit at 4-1, in the midst of a playoff race, were scheduled to face the Elmont Spartans on Oct. 18.