The J. Taylor Finley Middle School eighth grade football team turned in a great season, showcasing some of the most outstanding athletes in the district who came together nicely and executed well within the Blue Devil gridiron system.
Coached by Ronald Wilson and William Harris, Finley-8 compiled a 4-2 record with both losses coming again rugged West Hollow. The Falcons outscored their opponents, 123-71.
“This very young team performed well in every aspect of the game,” Wilson said. “Throughout the course of the season, they developed and matured into outstanding athletes and great young men. They went through some tough practices and some tough constructive criticism and were willing to go through it for the benefit of the team. Our team achieved success only by the extra efforts of each individual. Our team conquered because we all were able to play and enjoy this great game called football. The great thing about football is that after a while you become more than teammates; you become brothers. These young men banded together to become those brothers.”
Jack Koopman, Anthony Annunziata, Joe Algieri, Dom Vidota and Chris Acompora served as the team’s captains.
The team was an outstanding mix of veterans and newcomers with talents that extended to offense, defense and special teams.
The top performers included:
Anthony Annunziata: He excelled at running back and linebacker. “Anthony is a multi-talented athlete who was our utility player,” Wilson said. This young man is very passionate about winning and more so about the sport. I love the energy he brings to every game. He played wherever he was needed and did a competent job at every position.
Annunziata completed 3-of-12 passes for 45 yards and rushed 32 times for 227 yards and two touchdowns and one extra point conversion. He made 15 solo tackles, including two for a loss, forced two fumbles and sacked the quarterback twice.
Joe Algieri: He was a standout at running back and linebacker. “He was punishing on both sides of the ball,” Wilson said. “When we needed two or three yards, Joe never disappointed. Defensively, he was the hardest hitting player on our team, especially on game day.
Algieri rushed 34 times for 322 yards, two touchdowns and an extra point conversion. He also recorded 42 solo tackles, including seven for a loss, one forced fumble and one quarterback sack.
Jahmar Francis: He was outstanding at running back and free safety. “He’s the speedster on the team,” Wilson said. “Jahmar has breakaway speed that was unmatched in open field. He makes interceptions from the safety position and runs down running backs who got past our second level. He’s got the gift and he is in the right place for us to nurture it, water it and see it grow.”
Francis had one reception for 37 yards and a touchdown. He rushed 13 times for 348 yards and five touchdowns. He also made 16 solo tackles and caused a fumble.
Aidan Carrello: He shined at offensive center and linebacker. “Aidan was our leader and coach on the field,” Wilson said. “Teams found it very difficult to run to his side of the field. His aggressive play on defense kept us in games and even he got himself an interception for a touchdown. Offensively, he called out the blocks for the line and left the rest to the quarterback.
Carrello recorded three pancake blocks and two hard hits. He made 18 solo tackles, including five for a loss, had one quarterback sack, one forced fumble, one fumble recovered and one interception, which he returned for a touchdown.
Finley-8 topped Dawnwood (20-0), Candlewood (26-6), Selden (18-12) and Commack (41-12) and lost a pair of games to West Hollow (21-0 and 20-18).
In the last three years, Finley-8 has compiled a 16-2 record under Wilson.