Winning six consecutive games is no easy feat for a football team, regardless of how good it might be. There are too many things that can go wrong on any given day. But, the J. Taylor Finley Middle School seventh grade gridiron squad proved it can be done after the Falcons compiled a 6-0 record this fall.
Coached by Tim Madden and Julian Watts, the 35 player team was captained by Robbie Smith, Jahiem Hawkins and Liam McDonald.
Finley-7 outscored its six opponents by a 190-66 margin. “We had talented kids who love football,” Madden said. “They are smart, athletic and have a promising future.”
The Falcons were led by Smith (running back/linebacker), Hawkins (running back/linebacker), McDonald (center/linebacker), Josiah Melendez (running back/defensive back), Bryce Robinson (wide receiver, tight end/linebacker) and Kevin Drake (quarterback).
“Robbie is a multi-talented athlete with an incredible work ethic,” said Madden about the skilled Smith. “He’s smart and tough.”
Melendez also sparkled. “Josiah is a very good running back and is a playmaker on defense as well,” Madden said.
McDonald excelled snapping the ball and clearing a path for the running backs with his fancy blocking. Robinson came through with numerous big plays on both sides of the ball. Hawkins was a “smart and physical player,” Madden said.
Drake was the team’s standout field general. “He played well at quarterback and has a good arm,” Madden said. “He threw the ball very well.”
Finley-7 upended Riverhead (19-0), West Hollow (35-12), Candlewood (37-6), East Northport (21-13), Northport (39-28) and Dawnwood (39-7) to finish the season perfect.
The highlight of the season came in the fifth game on the team’s schedule against Northport. “We were down 21-6 early in the second quarter,” Madden said. “Josiah Melendez stripped the Northport running back of the ball and ran 35 yards for a touchdown. We also scored on a great fade route pass from Kevin Drake to Bryce Robinson.”
Trailing 21-19 at halftime, the team huddled with its coaches. “We spoke about handling adversity,” Madden said. “Coach Watts and I were proud of how we stayed together and didn’t point fingers.”
Leading 32-28, Finley worked hard to close the game out. “Our offense moved the ball all the way down the field and ate up almost all of the clock,” said Madden about a drive that consumed more than eight minutes. “We finally scored with 1:37 left to make it 39-28.”
Players took delight in the undefeated campaign and are already talking about remaining perfect next fall as eighth graders.