McGann-Mercy running back Reggie Archer tries to find a hole against the Bayport defense. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)
PHANTOMS 33, MONARCHS 6
From the moment Bishop McGann-Mercy received the No. 6 seed in Division IV, a peculiar position for a team whose only victory a year ago came via forfeit, this much was evident: the schedule would again be unforgiving.
A new era of Mercy football, under new coach Mike Buck, kicked off Friday against one the teams itching to break into the upper echelon of Division IV in Bayport-Blue Point, the preseason No. 4 seed. For the Monarchs, they’re simply trying to regain their footing in the division.
A festive, big crowd turned out under the lights at McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead for the home opener. It took only a matter of seconds for the Phantoms to put a damper on the evening for the home fans.
On the first play from scrimmage, Bayport quarterback Brendan Bateman connected with Edgar Somerville for a long pass up the left sideline that went for a touchdown.
Ten seconds into the game, the Phantoms led 7-0. They never looked back in a 33-6 win.
The Phantoms led from start to finish, controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the field and executing a balanced attack on the ground and in the air.
The Monarchs, who relied heavily on the arm of quarterback Kevin Santacroce, a junior, hung with the Phantoms for most of the first half. But the game swung heavily in the Phantoms’ favor in the final minutes of the second quarter.
Bayport capped a seven-play drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Bateman to Somerville — their second connection of the game — to go ahead 14-6 with 2:49 left.
The Monarchs fumbled the ball on the ensuing kickoff, giving possession right back to Bayport just 20 yards from the end zone. The turnover proved costly. Five plays later, running back George Ringer scored from a yard out. Just like that, the lead ballooned to 20-6.
Mercy’s lone score came toward the end of the first quarter. And it came with some trickery. Santacroce handed off to Samuel Schrage, who carried the ball a few steps to his right before pulling up and firing a pass downfield to Marco Sciara. He hauled in the pass and ran up the right sideline for a 62-yard touchdown. The Monarchs failed on the extra point attempt so Bayport held on to a 7-6 lead.
The Phantoms scored on a 70-yard interception return by Dylan Rooney on the first possession of the third quarter that made it 27-6.
The Phantoms will find out just how close they are to competing with the division’s best next week. The Phantoms host John Glenn, the No. 1 seed.
Mercy, meanwhile, will travel to Southampton, where last season was supposed to end. That game, however, was cancelled and the Mariners were forced to forfeit because of alleged locker room misconduct. The Mariners finished 1-7. They began this season as the last seed in Division IV.
Mercy quarterback Kevin Santacroce lets go a pass as Shelton Williams (77) looks for a block. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)
Mike Buck coached his first game at McGann-Mercy Friday. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)
The students at Mercy packed the stands for the home opener. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)