The J. Taylor Finley Middle School seventh grade football team proved to be a resilient group this fall. The Falcons overcame several obstacles, including injuries to post a winning record against fierce competition.
The 33 player team was coached by Kevin Thorbourne and Julian Watts. The Falcons compiled a 3-2 mark, toppling Dawnwood (21-7), Commack (20-6) and Candlewood (28-13) and falling to West Hollow (26-13) and Northport (26-0)
Anthony Annunziata (RB/CB), Agostino Abbatiello (WR/CB), Sammy Mac Arner (RB/LM/LB), Jack Uvena (WR/DE) and Jack Koopman (QB) paced Finley. “These student-athletes performed not only on the field, but in the classroom,” Thorbourne said. “At practice and on game day they showed the will to lead and succeed. Each day they came to work hard and to encourage their fellow athletes to do the same.”
Annunziata sparkled for Finley. “He’s a special type of player,” Thorbourne said. “He can play just about any position on the field. When needed he played running back, quarterback and cornerback and rose to the challenge.”
Abbatiello was another standout in his first year of football. “During the third week we realized he was a first team player playing on the second team,” Thorbourne said. “He continued to do so without any resentment.”
Mac Arner also excelled at three different positions. “He never hesitated to play where we needed him, even though he had aches and pains,” Thorbourne said. “He still wanted to be out on the field to help the team.”
Uvena provided leadership on and off the field. The seventh grader displayed a knack for catching passes and turning the receptions into touchdowns. “He will be an asset for the eighth grade team next year,” Thorbourne said.
Annunziata, Mac Arner, Uvena, Koopman, Christopher Acompora-Mille and Michael Kline jointly captained the Falcons. “Although our team was small in size this year, a lot of the players had big hearts and it helped that they were ready and willing to learn,” Thorbourne said.
Looking ahead to next season, Thorbourne said he wants to reach out to potential players currently attending Woodhull Intermediate School and Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School and speak to those playing in outside leagues about getting involved in the Finley gridiron program.