With its latest loss, the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck high school football team may have sensed that its season would be cut short of the playoffs. As it turned out, the Porters’ season was cut even shorter than that.
The final image of the Porters this year will be of them trudging off the field at Port Jefferson High School following a 19-0 loss on Saturday.
The remainder of the Porters’ season has been canceled because of a shortage of players, the result of injuries.
The Porters were scheduled to play a home game tomorrow night against Elwood/John Glenn and then an away game a week later against Wyandanch. Neither of those games will happen.
School officials said the athletic directors of the three North Fork schools met with the coaching staff Tuesday night and a decision was made to cancel the season.
“Unfortunately we have to cancel the varsity football season due to lack of numbers,” said Greenport’s athletic director, Jim Caliendo. He said the Porters, who started the season with 22 players, were left with only 13 healthy varsity players.
“We had a long discussion and it was the most sensible thing to do,” Caliendo told The Suffolk Times in a phone interview yesterday morning.
Asked how his players took the news, Porters coach Jack Martilotta said, “They’re heartbroken.”
Martilotta said he would meet with the players after school Wednesday.
The issue was not discussed at Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting because the administration was not informed of the decision until after the meeting, officials said. Team members and parents expressed frustration on social media about learning of the cancellation through a report on suffolktimes.com.
The school district announced a meeting of football parents from all three districts for 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Greenport High School auditorium.
“As an athletic director, this is pretty tough,” Caliendo said. He added: “This was unexpected. I thought we could make it through” the season.
Caliendo said the numbers for the junior varsity team are low, too, with about 15 players. He said there are over 35 players on the junior high school team.
Asked if any thought had been given to bringing up junior varsity players to make up for the lost varsity players, Caliendo said: “It’s a tough call.
They’re not varsity-ready. We tried every option, believe me.”
Low numbers have been a concern for the Porters throughout the season. They were hit by a snag in the form of a recent string of injuries. On Saturday they were missing eight players to injuries, including seven starters.
Martilotta understands that injuries are part of the game but he said the rash of injuries that hit the Porters are “staggering.” He said it’s the most injuries he has seen in his five years as the team’s coach.
“It wasn’t like it was just one injury at a time,” Porters wide receiver/defensive back Garrett Malave said after last week’s loss. “It all came at once. We have people at spots they’ve never been at before.”
Saturday’s defeat dropped the Porters from eighth to ninth place in Suffolk County Division IV with a 2-4 record and made reaching the playoffs a long shot for them.
During an interview Wednesday, Martilotta sounded disappointed and as if he was still trying to come to terms with the premature ending to his season.
“We were expecting to be a playoff team this year and we had the talent to do it,” he said. “Nobody wants to cancel a season with two games left.”