Dominick Panetta is big (6 foot 1, 220 pounds) and strong, but he is also surprisingly fast for his size. Just ask anyone who has tried to tackle him, his teammates on the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck high school football team included.
Ironically, Panetta said one of the running jokes on the team is how slow he is. For a big player, though, he can move — as well as catch passes and make tackles.
“He’s fast,” Porters linebacker/running back Keegan Syron said. “I can’t catch up to him.”
Neither could the highly regarded Mount Sinai Mustangs, who saw Panetta break away for two long touchdown receptions — the Porters’ only touchdowns — in a 35-16 Porters loss Friday night at Dorrie Jackson Memorial Field in Greenport.
With the Porters trailing, 27-0, in the second quarter, Panetta pulled in a Dylan Marlborough pass while running a post pattern for a 34-yard touchdown reception. On the second play of the third quarter, Marlborough once again found Panetta on a crossing route for a 65-yard scoring connection.
Those were the first touchdown catches of the year for Panetta, who leads the Porters this season in both receptions (nine) and receiving yardage (198).
Not only that, the senior made seven tackles, giving him 18 (12 solo) in three games. A week earlier, in a win over Southampton/Ross, he collected a fumble and ran it back 82 yards for a touchdown.
Last season Panetta caught one pass — for a 12-yard touchdown. He was the team’s second-leading tackler with 30.
Preventing Panetta from catching the ball is one thing, bringing him down is another.
“He’s just the perfect tight end/slot receiver, that you can’t push him around, and he’s got hands,” said another one of the Porters’ receivers, Garrett Malave.
Panetta made four catches for 118 yards against Mount Sinai. Coach Jack Martilotta said the Porters wanted to include Panetta in the gameplan more than they did.
“He’s a very good football player,” Martilotta said. “He’s a fast kid and he’s a big kid. That’s what helps him catch the ball. You’re not pushing him out of the way.”
After the game, Panetta spoke about the challenge of facing a team of Mount Sinai’s caliber.
“They were a lot better than the teams we played so far, but we’re going to see those teams,” he said. “We have to play stronger. We had some collapses in the beginning, which put us down.”
Photo Caption: Dominick Panetta outraces the Mount Sinai defense on the way to his second touchdown reception of the game. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)