Photo credit: Daniel Goodrich | Bellport's Justin Honce is tackled by Islip defenders. (Oct. 1, 2011)
Justin Honce completed 12 of 21 passes for 162 yards and threw three touchdown passes to lead Bellport to a 26-21 win over Islip Saturday in Suffolk III. According to coach Joe Cipp, Honce is the first Bellport quarterback to throw for three TDs in a game since 2000. He also became the school's all-time leader in passing yards.
Alejandro Morales had six receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown. Armand Correa caught a 9-yard TD pass in the third quarter to give Bellport a 26-14 lead.
With Bellport (2-2) ahead 26-21 with less than three minutes remaining, Islip quarterback Joe Sabbatino broke a 50-yard run but was stripped at the 1-yard line by Bellport defensive back Nate Chavious. Defensive back Kevin Wilson recovered the ball for a touchback, and Bellport ran out the clock to secure the win. Chavious also scored on a 53-yard run in the first quarter and finished with 11 rushes for 80 yards. Islip is 2-2.
Miller Place 32, Rocky Point 0: Matt Hinchy completed 11 of 14 for 186 yards and two TDs, and Adin Greenfield had 119 total yards and two TDs for Miller Place (3-1). Miller Place held Rocky Point to 146 yards and forced two turnovers. Alex Greenidge and Colin Ferrall each had eight tackles and Ryan Kelly added seven tackles, including three for a loss. Chris Puchalski had six tackles, including three for a loss, and two pass deflections. Rocky Point is 0-4.
Kings Park 47, Eastport-South Manor 16: Joe Guercio was 12-for-14 for 133 yards and three TDs to lead Kings Park (2-2). Dominic Montemurro had 17 carries for 74 yards and a TD and had two receptions for 28 yards and a TD for the Kingsmen. Michael Thorne had 11 tackles, a sack and an interception, and Steven Lee had 10 tackles. Eastport-South Manor is 2-2.
Sayville 34, Huntington 21: Steve Ferreira completed 14 of 30 for 250 yards and three TDs for Sayville (4-0). John Haggart rushed for 174 yards and a touchdown, and Zach Sirico ran for 129 yards and a score. Tom Dieckhoff had five catches for 134 yards and a touchdown. Matt Ali had 13 tackles and three sacks, and also deflected a pass that led to Rob Newell's interception in the fourth quarter. Huntington is 1-3.
Comsewogue 53, East Hampton 13: Anthony Marone gained 137 yards and had three TDs on seven carries, and Ade Nelson had 64 yards and two TDs on four carries for Comsewogue (3-1). Carlos Acosta-Nunez had 11 tackles and a sack, and James Mitsos six tackles and a sack. East Hampton is 0-4.
Westhampton 23, Harborfields 2: Brandan Eckart had 12 carries for 114 yards and two TDs, and Dan Gomez had six carries for 62 yards and a TD to lead Westhampton (3-1). Brian Higgins, Connor Raynor, and Brian Corrigan each had a sack, and Brandon Moloney, Brian Curry and Michael Crennan each had an interception for the Hurricanes. Harborfields is 2-2.
You think Joe Cipp Jr. mailed it in for his final week as a high school football coach after 32 years at Bellport and 211 victories? You think the whistle that dangled around his neck was just a prop? You don't know Joe.
During Monday's final practice, Cipp, wearing red Bellport shorts, a white Bellport T-shirt and a Bellport watch, chided his players during a drill that allowed some contact but not all-out blocking or tackling.
"I know it's just technique," he said, a sneer in his voice, "but I'd like to hear a pop [of shoulder pads] that makes me think you can crack an egg out there."
Such intensity, attention to detail and dedication didn't surprise the Bellport players on the Long Island team that facedNew York City Tuesday night in the 16th Empire Challenge charity all-star football game.
"He's been that way since Day 1," running back Travis Houpe said.
Not just Day 1 of his Bellport years, either. More like since Day 1 of his youth.
"I'm a little guy. I wasn't going to be a big-time player," said Cipp, 62, who retired last fall after guiding the Clippers to the Class II Long Island championship and becoming the all-time winningest football coach in Suffolk County history. "I was the guy who organized the games during recess at my Catholic school."
Once a coach, always a coach. Even one of Bellport's players smiled wryly at the word "retirement."
"He'll be on the sidelines. He just won't be the official head coach," the player said during a water break Monday. That's probably true, becauseJoe's son, Joe Cipp III, is Bellport's new head coach.
But the father acknowledged he needed to concentrate full-time on his job as Bellport's school superintendent.
"I'm doing two jobs -- again -- this week and I know you just can't do that," Cipp said.
The Suffolk County Football Coaches Association recognized the job he did at Bellport with a surprise on-field ceremony between the first and second quarters of last nightTuesday night's game. They presented Cipp with a plaque as some of his career highlights were shown on the scoreboard at Shuart Stadium.
The bottom of the plaque reads: "Your accomplishments will never be forgotten."
That was evident this week in conversations with several Clippers.
"Having him here is an extra push for me," defensive back Mike Burton said. "It's pretty emotional for me -- it's my last high school game with the icon. I have so much respect for him that I'm honored that I helped him achieve what we did this year."
Ryan Sloan, the 310-pound Syracuse-bound tackle, said, "It's a week and a night to remember for all of us."
Cipp acknowledged that, but was trying not to think about the finish line to his marathon of a coaching career.
"There have been a lot of ups and downs. I'm an emotional guy," Cipp said. "I'm aware it's my last involvement as a head coach. I'm aware of the emotions going on from my standpoint."
He just tried to hide them behind words and whistles, a coach going out on his own terms -- just coaching the kids to the very end.