The Bulldogs celebrate after winning the 2011 Village of Monticello Parks and Recreation Department Flag Football championship on Sunday morning. Kneeling in the front row, from left to right, are Adam Lake, Dana Presto, Tito Agosto, Jon Hinton, Lionel White and Ivan Rivera. Standing in the back row, from left to right, are Chris Smith, Adam Birkett, Joseph Greco (manager), Brandon McKenny, Troy Bertholf, Al White, Matt Stoddard, Jeff O’Neill, Nelson Saravia, Fred Howard and Mike Ballard.
Bulldogs bury Gravediggerz to win fifth Flag Football championship
By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO The championships keep adding up for the Bulldogs flag football team.
On Sunday morning, the Bulldogs defeated the Gravediggerz, 13-7, in the championship game of the 2011 Village of Monticello Parks and Recreation Department Flag Football League at Kenneth H. Somerville Memorial Field.
This is the fifth straight title for the Bulldogs, who also earned the championship in the Village of Monticello 2011 Spring Flag Football League.
The Bulldogs use a mix of veteran players and newcomers to create their championship chemistry. Two players, Brandon McKenny and Nelson Saravia, are in their first year with the team. McKenny played for another team in the league the past three seasons, while Saravia is a rookie in the league.
“My old team would be good for the first five or six games of the season,” McKenny said. “But then we would have a problem with getting enough guys to play the game.
“The Bulldogs asked me if I would play on their team and I said sure,” added McKenny, a 2003 graduate of Fallsburg Central School. “It just feels good to be on a team where everybody has fun and everybody contributes. Everybody on this team enjoys playing together.”
Saravia played for the Liberty High School varsity football team for four years, three of them as a starter, before graduating in 2010. He was on the football team at Hartwick College in Oneonta before suffering a knee injury and concussions. But he is now healthy enough to play for the Bulldogs.
“They asked me to play on the team and I am glad they did,” Saravia said. “It’s pretty cool because our quarterback, Matt Stoddard, was one of my football coaches in high school. I really enjoy playing on this team, I love it. We have a great group of guys on the team.”
The Bulldogs, who finished the regular season with a 15-1 record, reached Sunday’s championship game with a 38-0 victory over the Ellenville Blue Devils in a semifinal game. The Gravediggerz, who finished second in the regular season standings with a 13-3 record, earned their berth in the title contest by stopping the Port Jervis Raiders, 20-6, in the other semifinal game.
Ellenville defeated the Green Chiefs, 13-6, in a play-in game to reach the semifinals.
Defense ruled the first half of the championship game as the score was 0-0 at halftime.
But in the second half, both teams found the end zone.
The Bulldogs scored on their first possession of the second half. Stoddard rolled out of the pocket to elude pressure from the Gravediggerz’ defensive linemen and threw a pass to Al White, who was wide open behind the Gravediggerz’ secondary. After catching the ball, White turned and ran to the end zone to complete a 65-yard touchdown pass play.
The Bulldogs’ attempt for a one-point conversion failed, but they still held a 6-0 lead.
With just under two minutes remaining in the game, the Bulldogs added to their advantage. Stoddard handed the ball to Chris Smith, who ran to the left. But Smith stopped as he was about to turn the corner and threw the ball to Stoddard, who ran up the middle for a 15-yard touchdown. Stoddard then connected with Jon Hinton on a one-point conversion pass to give the Bulldogs a 13-0 lead.
It took the Gravediggerz about 35 seconds to answer. They quickly drove down the field and scored on a 20-yard pass from Antonio Simmons to Steve Smittle. Simmons tossed a pass to Jesse Robinson on the one-point conversion play to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 13-7.
The Gravediggerz then attempted an onsides kick. But the Bulldogs recovered the ball to seal their six-point victory.
Stoddard noted that there were many key plays in the game.
“That was a great catch by Jeff O’Neill,” Stoddard said of a leaping reception by O’Neill near midfield on the Bulldogs’ second touchdown drive. “Al White got behind the defense and made a great touchdown catch.”
“Our defense was great today,” Stoddard continued. “We only allowed them two or three first downs before they scored their touchdown. Adam Lake did a good job of blitzing and Nelson Saravia, Troy Bertholf and Fred Howard played great on the defensive line.”
Stoddard also praised the other Bulldogs.
“Everybody did their job today,” he said. “It was a whole team effort.”
Stoddard also thanked the team’s sponsor, Dan “Earl” Ratner of Phoenix Enterprises.
But the Bulldogs’ season is not over yet. On the weekend of Dec. 3-4, the team will be playing in the FlagMag.com NorthEast Regional Flag Football Tournament in Boston. In 2009, the Bulldogs won the tournament championship. Last year, the team lost in the title game.
“We want to get our championship back,” Stoddard said.
Among those watching Sunday’s playoff games was Michael Greco of the Village of Monticello Parks and Recreation Department. He noted that the league started out the season with 10 teams and ended with eight teams.
“This is a good league,” Greco said. “We have players from all over. They come from Port Jervis, Ellenville and Liberty, among other places, to play in the league. There is good football played here.”
Greco then smiled as he noted that “there are only 15 more weeks” until the start of the league’s spring 2012 season.
To sign up to play in the spring or for more information about the league, please call the Village of Monticello Parks and Recreation Department at 794-2351.
Port Jervis 11-5
Green Chiefs 9-7
Young Bulls 5-11
Majek Furniture 2-14
DVJC Eagles 1-8
Team Bank$ 0-9
Ellenville 13 Green Chiefs 6
Bulldogs 38 Ellenville 0
Gravediggerz 20 Port Jervis 6
Bulldogs 13 Gravediggerz 7