Worst to first: Madison wins PSAL Bowl title
Barry Dagbolen raced around the field at Lincoln HS with his James Madison in absolute ecstasy. The Knights had just defeated August Martin, 22-20, to win the PSAL Bowl Division title Sunday, the first football championship of any kind at the Brooklyn school since 1983.
It was in stark contrast to last November when James Madison endured a winless season in the PSAL City Championship division.
“To come back from a zero-win season to winning the championship is an unbelievable feeling,” the senior quarterback said. “I can’t even describe it.”
Dagbolen didn’t struggle to find the words to describe the 2010 season, though.
“It was dreadful,” he said. “You don’t ever want to be a starting quarterback of a team that wins zero games.”
Dagbolen was one of 11 juniors on that squad who returned for their senior season, anxious to turn the James Madison program around.
“They were disappointed we were moving from [City Championship division] to [Bowl Championship division], but I told them it was for the better of the program,” James Madison coach Tom Mobilia said. “They bought into it and worked hard…I take my hat off to all those guys how stayed with it.”
One player who wasn’t on last year’s squad is Dellon Peters, one of the top sprinters in the PSAL. The 5-foot-4, 117-pound sophomore showcased that speed on a 72-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to give top-seeded Madison (10-1) a 14-7 lead with 32.4 seconds left in the second quarter. Dagbolen connected with Stephen Friscia on the 2-point conversion.
“It felt good,” Peters said. “I did it for my team because I love them. I looked at the time and said,  seconds? I can do this.’ I just picked it up and I ran.”
Peters’ touchdown came just 13 seconds after Nick Jean Louis put second-seeded August Martin (7-4) ahead 7-6 on a 1-yard quarterback keeper.
“That was big,” Mobilia said. “I think it was the turning point of the game right there.”
Dagbolen, who connected with Adeyinka Anifowoshe on a 17-yard TD late in the first quarter, extended the Knights lead to 22-7 on a 1-yard touchdown run and a pass to Friscia for the 2-point conversion early in the fourth quarter.
However, August Martin rallied late with Clinton Westmoreland rushing for a 2-yard touchdown to cut its deficit to 22-13 with 2:08 left in the fourth and the Falcons recovering the ensuing onside kick.
Anifowoshe picked off Jean Louis, starting in place of Ricky Dunbar, who suffered a knee injury late in a semifinal victory last week, at the Madison 17-yard line to seemingly seal the victory.
But Westmoreland scampered for a 36-yard score with 48 seconds remaining to cut the Madison lead to 22-20.
“When they scored I didn’t even want to look,” Dagbolen said. “It was horrible. I knew we had to get it back on the onside kick to seal the game.”
That’s just what senior Teqeil Evans did to cap a tremendous turnaround for James Madison.
“It feels great,” Mobilia said. “We thought we were going to win some games, but we achieved much more than we thought we were going to achieve. It’s a credit to the kids who have worked hard since August.”
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