Huntington High School’s junior varsity football team took a few lumps during what can best be described as a learning season. The Blue Devil roster included many players who lacked extensive experience on the gridiron. With most of the squad expected to return to the JV level next fall, the future seems much brighter.
The 37-player team was captained by Torin Bograd, Nick Mattio, Aedan McDonald, Kyle Green and Matt Stoffa and coached by Jim Byrnes, Sr. and William Harris.
The Blue Devils compiled a 3-5 mark. Huntington claimed victories over Copiague (42-6), Deer Park (30-0) and Newfield (32-26) and dropped verdicts to North Babylon (22-0), West Islip (32-6), Smithtown West (32-18), Riverhead (16-0) and Bay Shore (42-13).
Among the team’s top players were:
• Nasir Youngblood: (RB) Rushed 81 times for 783 yards and nine touchdowns, including a 75 yard kickoff return.
• Aedan McDonald: (RB/Safety) Rushed 45 times for 250 yards and five touchdowns. Also notched a pair of two-point conversions. Recorded 45 tackles, six interceptions and a fumble recovery on defense.
• Matt Stolfa: (RB/OLB) Rushed 28 times for 325 yards and a touchdown. Also tallied four two-point conversions. Made 40 tackles, including six for a loss and forced two fumbles on defense.
• Torin Bograd: (QB) Completed 22-of-40 passes for 358 yards and five touchdowns. Rushed six times for 30 yards. Notched three two-point conversions.
• Mekai Butts: (RB/G/DE) Rushed 28 times for 131 yards and two touchdowns. Made 18 tackles and forced a fumble on defense.
• Alex Bellissimo: (RB/CB/OLB) Rushed nine times for 34 yards and a touchdown. Made 24 tackles, broke up four pass plays and recovered a fumble defensively.
• Liam Hassett: (Slot/LB) One reception for 64 yards and a touchdown. Rushed once for four yards. Made nine tackles, including three for a loss, forced a fumble and recorded one sack defensively.
• Nick Mattio: (RB/WR/LB) Two receptions for 30 yards and two touchdowns. Made 22 tackles, including four for a loss and had one sack defensively.
• Tom Combs: (LB) Recorded 27 tackles, including three for a loss, three sacks and one interception.
• Kyle Green: (G/DE) Recorded 20 tackles, including five for a loss.
• Kyeon Lyons: (CB) Recorded 18 tackles.
• Chas Forte: (DE) Recorded five tackles.
• George Morris: (LB/DE) Made five tackles.
• RJ Moreno: (CB) Recorded five tackles, broke up three pass plays and forced a fumble.
• Jayson Turner: (LB) Made 13 tackles, recovered a fumble and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown.
• Trevan Meagher: (DE) Recorded 14 tackles, including one for a loss, had 1.5 sacks and recovered a fumble.
• Darren Fils-Aime: (DE) Made 15 tackles, including two for a loss and had two sacks.
Byrnes, who served as Huntington’s head coach, called McDonald “the best overall player on the team. [He’s] a force on both sides of the ball.” Several other players were also singled out for especially high praise.
“Matt Stolfa was a leader on offense as well as defense; a tough physical player who was a quiet leader,” Byrnes said. “Nick Mattio came on strong on offense and defense. He’s a physical player who led by example and was a team leader on the field.”
Green was another standout. “Kyle was my best offensive and defensive lineman,” Byrnes said. “He was a force at any position on the line on either side of the ball.”
Youngblood also sparkled. “He was a tremendous running back with great speed and vision,” Byrnes said. He learned how to run between the tackles with power and could be a special player.”
Bograd proved his worth the Blue Devils’ signal caller. “Torin is one of the best quarterbacks I have coached,” Byrnes said. “I believe he will be a tremendous QB in our program.”
The highlight of the season “was taking the youngest JV squad we have had, with not much playing experience and teaching them how to prepare and play football in our program,” Byrnes said. “Playing against mostly sophomore teams, we compiled a 3-5 record with each player gaining valuable playing time as freshmen, which will make them all better players next season. Watching them come together and understand the commitment it takes to play football, it will be great to see them all going forward.”
Looking ahead to next fall, Byrnes sees a veteran team returning to the JV field. “Most of this year’s team should be back,” he said. “I think four or five players will go up to varsity. But, there is a good group coming up from Finley to fill out the squad. It should be fun as always.”