By Rob Potter
GOSHEN The John S. Burke Catholic High School and Sullivan West Central School football teams will become quite familiar with each other in a relatively short period of time.
On Saturday afternoon, the undefeated Burke Eagles stopped the visiting SW Bulldogs, 14-7, in the regular season finale for both teams. This Friday, the Eagles and Bulldogs will square off at 4 p.m. at Faller Field in Middletown in a Section IX Class C semifinal game.
While SW Coach Ron Bauer and Burke Coach Ed VanCuren noted that playing the same team only six days earlier helps them prepare for the semifinal game, it won’t be the most important factor in that playoff contest.
“The coaches are going to watch the film tonight like we do after every game,” VanCuren said. “Then we’ll show it to the players. We’ll practice hard all week and prepare like it’s another team we will be playing.”
“We have to be more ready,” Bauer said of the Bulldogs’ preparation for Friday’s semifinal.
As for Saturday’s game, the decisive play was a 25-yard touchdown pass from Burke quarterback Robert Pezzullo to running back Mat Cino with 7:53 remaining in the fourth quarter. Cino got behind the Bulldogs’ secondary and was standing all alone in the end zone when he caught the football.
The scoring strike gave the Eagles a 13-7 lead. Tom Sullivan then booted the extra-point kick through the uprights to make it a 14-7 game.
SW (5-3) began its subsequent possession on its own 14-yard line. But the Bulldogs could only gain 6 yards on three plays and were forced to punt on fourth down.
Burke (8-0) then gained four first downs to run out the remaining 5:46 on the clock.
The Eagles took a 7-0 lead with 11:08 left in the second quarter when Matt Press ran for a 1-yard touchdown and Sullivan added the extra-point kick.
SW tied the game on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter. After a good kickoff return by Jared Meola, senior running back Tom Mootz ran up the middle and into the open field for a 45-yard touchdown. Kitt Borowski kicked the extra point to even the score at 7-7 with 11:44 to go in the quarter.
“We came out a little flat to begin the second half,” VanCuren said. “But then we got our running game going. We like to run the ball and keep the other team’s offense off the field.”
Bauer noted that mistakes played a key role in the game’s outcome.
“We had some mistakes in the secondary on their touchdown in the fourth quarter,” he said. “It was a good football game, but we just made too many mistakes.
“We have to get better on offense,” Bauer added.
Rushing: Tom Mootz, 9 carries for 60 yards, one TD; E.J. Franskevicz, 6-26; Kitt Borowski, 3-2; Jared Meola, 1-5
Rushing: Mat Cino, 14-67; Matt Press, 12-39, one TD
Passing: Robert Pezzullo, 11-18, 182, 1 TD, 1 interception
Receiving: Tom Sullivan, 8-108