Spackenkill holds off New Paltz
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Those weren’t tears of pain streaming down Nick Celestino’s face on a cold, blustery Saturday.
“No, no, I’m happy,” the Spackenkill High School running back said. “I’m so happy we came through in the end of a close game. We’re a hell of a team, I didn’t want it to end.”
It wasn’t the prettiest thing to behold, but the Spartans knocked off New Paltz, 7-6, in a Section 9 Class B semifinal game at Dietz Stadium in Kingston on Saturday.
That sets up a 1 vs. 2 showdown between top-seeded Spackenkill and No. 2 Marlboro, a 49-12 winner over Red Hook in the other semifinal, for the sectional championship next Saturday night back at Dietz Stadium. Spackenkill beat the Dukes, 21-6, in the third week of the season, but Marlboro has since run off six consecutive wins.
The game was a clinic in what not to do. Numerous false start penalties, four fumbles, two interceptions – and, since the game was moved to 10 a.m. to beat the snow, not a drop of the wet stuff – and several facemask and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties will certainly draw frowns from the respective coaching staffs when they watch game film.
But, as Spackenkill coach Clinton DeSouza said, “Survive and advance.”
“New Paltz plays with a lot of emotion and so do we,” Spackenkill’s Josh Riley said. “Sometimes things just act up.”
The game might have also come with a price. Spackenkill quarterback K.J. Williams, who threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Tommy Fink in the first quarter for the Spartans’ only score, was injured in the third quarter when he scrambled away from a heavy rush and twisted his knee pivoting on the Dietz Stadium turf. He spent the remainder of the game on the bench, wrapped in blankets, and will have an MRI done to determine the extent of the injury.
Ditto for New Paltz sophomore QB Nick DiMarco, who screamed in pain in the fourth quarter when he was hit and appeared to hurt his knee.
The Huguenots, defending Section Nine, Class B champs, made a critical mistake in the first period on a botched punt snap that resulted in a 33-yard loss and Spackenkill taking over on the New Paltz 27 yard line. Williams hit Fink on the next play with a fade to the left corner of the end zone, and the extra point made it 7-0.
“That was a momentum-changer,” DeSouza said. “We knew we were going for the end zone right away to take advantage of that.”
In the third quarter, DiMarco threw a 28-yard strike to Chad Wells. Surprisingly, New Paltz coach Tom Tegeler went for two instead of the tie, and the conversion failed, leaving the score at 7-6. New Paltz later missed a37-yard field goal try.
Otherwise, the Huguenots couldn’t muster much offense against Spackenkill – similar to the first meeting that took place between the two teams, a Spartan win.
“We had a great scout,” DeSouza said. “We had a great game plan on defense and we executed. Josh (Riley) at middle linebacker, he knew what was coming every time.”
And now it’s on to another rematch with red-hot Marlboro.
“We’re their only loss. They’re going to be looking for revenge,” DeSouza said. “It’s going to be fun. Get the popcorn ready.”
Check back later for video highlights from this game.