By Sam Cohen
On October 13, 2012, the Briarcliff Varsity Football team suffered a 42-0 loss in its homecoming game against the Bulldogs of Irvington High School.
The Bears got off to a strong start with a Max Mason fumble recovery off a punt deep into Irvington territory, but the Bears gave the ball right back to the Bulldogs with a red-zone interception. The Bulldogs capitalized and after strongly driving down the field, scored off a 1-yard rushing touchdown. Irvington continued to overpower the physically and quantitatively smaller Briarcliff team throughout much of the game. Later in the first quarter, junior William Hou created a spark with a recovered fumble at the Bear 24 yard line, but the Bears couldn’t capitalize and went into the second quarter without a point on the board.
The following quarter, the Bulldogs began to bully the Bears on the ground, scoring one huge 33-yard touchdown to put the Bulldogs up 14-0 and a 5-yarder on the ground after a methodical, powerful drive down the field. To cap off the half, Irvington threw for an amazing 50-yard touchdown, leaving the Bears down 28-0 going into halftime.
The Bulldogs sealed the victory in the second half, as the Bears’ offense made a futile attempt to counteract the overpowering offense of their opposition. Bear penalties that hurt the offensive rhythm became prominent, and it seemed that when the Bears finally got moving towards the end zone, a flag would hold them back and ruin their set of downs.
Senior punter/kicker Matt Pasternak thinks the penalties are a fault of the team’s lack of numbers, which forces it to shuffle players around to new positions to set up in its various formations. He also contends that the team has “to go up against other teams who are just much bigger” physically than the Briarcliff squad.
The homecoming loss worsens Briarcliff’s record to 2-4 in a 2012 season marked by inconsistency. The Bears have proven their potential in two earlier wins this year, over a weaker opponent in Roosevelt and a very formidable foe in Kennedy Catholic. The Kennedy Catholic game was won in dramatic fashion off an overtime field goal on the opponent’s turf. On the contrary, the team’s four losses have highlighted the team’s lack of offensive production. Both losses to rival Pleasantville and non-league opponent Valhalla were shutouts, 39-0 and 27-0, respectively, and the other loss came away at powerhouse Putnam Valley, 44-21.
The team looks to rebound after the tough homecoming loss going into the final game of the regular season at Edgemont on October 20. Senior lineman Max Mason says the team needs to improve in practice if it wants to see success in the game. According to Mason, the team “had a great three days of practice leading up to JFK and that showed on the field.” Matthew Pasternak sees the “sense of urgency” in practice preceding the Roosevelt and Kennedy Catholic games as the source of the team’s successes. The Bears won’t be seeing playoff action this year, as a win on the 20th would only put them at 3-4, though they will play two consolation games to cap off the season.