Two games can be an eternity in sports, but the J. Taylor Finley Middle School eighth grade football team has won its first four contests of the season and players would love to capture the final two and chalk up the program’s second consecutive undefeated campaign.
Two games stand in the way of Finley-8’s march to perfection: Candlewood and Northport. Neither of the contests will be easy and either foe is capable of tripping up the Falcons. But coaches Ron Wilson and Jim Byrnes, Jr. are determined to have their team ready.
Finley-8 improved to 4-0 last Friday afternoon by turning back a challenge from previously undefeated Commack, 35-14. Josiah Melendez rushed nine times for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Robbie Smith (11 carries for 57 yards) and Ryan Porzio (eight carries for 71 yards and a touchdown) also proved hard to tackle.
Quarterback Kevin Drake completed eight of 10 passes for 142 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Bryce Robinson (two receptions for 36 yards) and Jahiem Hawkins (one reception for 49 yards).
Finley scored in the first period and led 8-0 midway through the game. The Falcons outscored Commack over the final three periods by a 27-14 margin. (There are five periods in middle school football games.)
Finley’s defense turned in another strong performance as 22 players recorded 60 tackles, nine tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles, a pass deflection and fumble recovered and a quarterback sack.
The Falcons ability to score points has led to four satisfying victories without a loss this fall. Against powerful Commack it was more of the same as Finley rushed 41 times for 360 yards and completed nine of 13 passes for another 148 yards. To have such an effective passing attack on the middle school is remarkable.
Smith made nine tackles, Kevin Reyes had five and Melendez and Aidan McNulty recorded four each. Hawkins, Lucas Petrizzi, Chris Maichin, Anthony Bonilla, Joe Tropeano and Pablo Aparicio made three tackles apiece.
“We played a nice again against Commack, which is a very good team,” Wilson said. “There’s always room for improvement, so we will work on some things in practice as we get ready for out final two games.”
Falcon Notes: John Chirico rushed 10 times for 32 yards . . . Harrison Krywak completed one of three passes . . . Melendez caught three passes for 26 yards . . . Max McCarthy had one reception for 27 yards . . . Smith, Petrizzi and Max McCarthy also caught passes in the game . . . Smith kicked a pair of extra points . . . Petrizzi ran the ball into the end zone for another extra point . . . Melendez deflected a pass . . . McNulty forced a fumble . . . Porzio recovered a fumble . . . Aparicio had a quarterback sack and a forced fumble.