Panthers Bite Back
Democrat Photo by Ted Waddell
SULLIVAN WEST'S BILL Reichmann, center, tackles Jesse Brooks of Edgemont after the Panther evaded Paul Barrett (on the ground). Also looking on during Saturday nights Class C state quarterfinal at Mahopac High School are, from the left, SWs Kevin Mullally (24), Ryan Schumacher (58), Brian Weston (62), and Matt Lanese (89).
Edgemont Cruises in Regional
By Ted Waddell
MAHOPAC November 14, 2000 The Section IX champs Bulldogs of Sullivan West (SW) took to the field with hopes of staging a upset over the Panthers, two-time defending state Class C champs from Scarsdales Edgemont High School.
But the Bulldogs hopes of heaven turned into a nightmare, as the Panthers crushed their dreams 62-15 during Saturday nights NYS football Class C quarterfinal at Mahopac High School.
If school spirit and strong community support of a new team created from three recently merged local central schools (Delaware Valley, Jeffersonville-Youngsville and Narrowsburg) had carried the day, the Bulldogs would have walked off the field with a victory, but it wasnt enough to overcome the irresistible force of Edgemonts Matt The Horse Bernstein and a stable of determined teammates.
The game proved a couple of things: the Panthers arent the defending state champs for nothing, and the Bulldogs are a dogged team that doesnt quit despite the odds.
The Bulldogs had their hands full trying to stop Bernstein, a 6-foot-2, 250-lb. fullback/linebacker who, coming into Saturdays game, had rushed for 1,442 yards on 112 carries and had scored 25 TDs.
Against SW, Bernstein racked up 229 yards rushing and scored five touchdowns. The Horse wasnt the only headache for the Bulldogs (74), as seven other ball carriers helped out by adding 264 yards for the Panthers (90) final total of 493. Freshman Jesse Brooks charged across the line eight times for 170 yards, including two TDs.
The Bulldogs gained 162 yards in the opening half, but were held to a miserly two yards after the break.
Kevin Mullally carried 18 times for 103 yards including a TD. John Compton picked up 57 yards on six carries. QB Bill Reichmann was 1-for-7 in the air, and was picked off twice.
The tone of the game was set in the first quarter after Bernstein carried the ball five times for 62 yards and Edgemonts QB Johnny Chen faked out the Bulldogs defensive with a picture perfect handoff to his star fullback and took it over the goal line from three yards out at 6:26.
The PAT failed, but the Panthers were up 6-0.
Edgemont took possession on a Reichmann interception, and Brooks scored at 5:17 on the following play. A successful PAT gave the Panthers a 13-0 lead.
With 2:42 left on the first quarter clock, SWs John Compton scored on a 24 yard sprint. Compton set up the score with a 30 yarder down the left side a few snaps before he took it into paydirt. The Reichmann PAT closed the gap to 13-7.
Bernstein then took center stage, as he racked up three consecutive TDs: a three-yarder at 2:18 in the first quarter (the PAT was wide to the left); a second quarter 60-yard romp at 9:39 (the PAT was deflected and went wide to the right); and an 18-yard rush at 6:48 (the two-point conversion by Chen gave Edgemont a 33-7 lead).
With 5:21 remaining in the half, the Bulldogs narrowed the gap a bit when Mullally scored on an off-tackle run from the Edgemont 1. On the previous play, Mullally seemed destined for the end zone on a 43-yard breakaway run down the right side, but was stopped by a diving ankle tackle by Brooks.
An attempted two-point conversion pass to Matt Lanese was broken up by Edgemont, but the play was called back when the Panthers were called for holding. On the following play, Paul Barrett scored on a conversion to make it a 33-15 ballgame.
With 3:00 remaining on the first half clock, Bernstein scored from the 1. A two-point conversion gave Edgemont a 41-15 halftime lead.
Shut Down in Second Half
In the second half, it was all Panthers as they racked up three TDs on the way to a 62-15 victory: at 9:08 in the third quarter, Bernstein scored his fifth TD of the game when he took it into the end zone from the 15 (the PAT was good); a 45 yard scamper by Brooks at 6:01 (the PAT cleared the uprights); and with 3:37 left in the game, a five yard run by fullback Jacob Wittenberg (the PAT was good).
I think Sullivan West did a great job of running the ball, said Panthers coach Brian Connolly. They ran for 162 yards in the first half, but then we shut them down after we made some adjustments.
According to Bernstein, the Panthers played all right in the first half, but really stepped it up in the second half.
It feels great to do what were doing as seniors, added the 1999 NYS Class C Player of the Year. It makes me feel good to play for my teammates and have them play for me.
In the Fall, Bernstein is headed off to Wisconsin on a full football scholarship.
According to SW coach Ron Bauer, he knew his team would have their work cut out for them against Edgemont. His prescription for success: stop their running game, move the ball and make as few mistakes as possible.
When the final diagnosis was in, SW didnt take a full dose of its own medicine as it failed to stop Bernstein and made a couple of costly mistakes.
When you tackled him low, hed jump over you, and when wed tackle him high, hed break right through us, said Bauer.
On the running side of the equation, SW actually gained more yardage than the scorebook recorded, but the Panthers subtracted a good bit of ground as they sacked Reichmann after dismantling the Bulldogs front line.
Edgemont was one of the toughest teams Ive ever faced, said Bauer. Our kids worked well together and had a lot of cooperation. The only frustration we had was the last game. It was tough.
Reichmann, the senior quarterback, led his team to a Section IX title this year. He shared his teams post game blues after getting pounded by the Panthers in the regional quarterfinal.
It was disappointing to lose, but theyre a very good team, he said. We hung in there, and we never gave up. We just kept trying.