Gage Suglia knew it was going to be a busy night for him. A hard-charging fullback on offense, Suglia would carry the ball every now and then to give Keegan Syron a breather.
But with a tender ankle preventing Syron from practicing all week, Greenport/Southold/Mattituck coach Jack Martilotta wanted to play Syron mostly on defense and limit his offensive plays against Babylon Friday night.
That meant a dramatic role change for Suglia in Greenport’s offense. Instead of blocking most of the time, the senior ran with the ball more than he ever had before in a varsity game.
“It was nice,” Suglia said after the 45-8 loss in Babylon. “I’ve carried it before, just not as much. It’s good.”
Suglia went for 54 yards on 12 carries, including an 11-yard dash for a first down on a fake punt, against Babylon’s tough defense. Playing linebacker, he made a couple of tackles as well.
“I definitely played better on offense than I did on defense today,” he said. “On defense I kind of slipped up.”
Through three games, Suglia has been one of the team’s most consistent performers on both sides of the ball. He has 100 rushing yards from 21 carries, with one touchdown.
“I think he’s great,” Martilotta said. “His fullback play has been outstanding. He’s a kid I can’t keep off the field, and I don’t. He’s got to be out 99 percent of the plays on the field. He’s tough as nails. He blocks like an animal. He tackles great. He runs hard. The kids love him. He’s a hundred percent on everything. You just need a few of those on your team and we’re fortunate enough to have him.”
Greenport’s junior quarterback, Sean Sepenoski, called Suglia “definitely one of the top players on the team. He’s definitely a leader, encouraging people out there.”
How did Suglia feel about his assignment for the evening?
“I knew it was going to be tough,” he said. “Obviously, I would hope that we would do a little better. We tried to clean up at the end, but it didn’t end up that way. It just happens. Keegan’s a great runner. I think I’m personally a better blocker for him.”
Defensively, the 6-foot, 200-pound Suglia is good at shedding blockers and getting in on tackles. He is the team’s second-leading tackler with 11, six for a loss (including one sack).
“I really just enjoy the hitting,” he said.
Suglia said his mindset has changed, perhaps, more than anything over the past year. “I don’t think I really changed much in size,” he said, “but just the thought process and when to hit, who to hit, how to tackle, that kind of thing.”
So far, he’s been a hit for the Porters.
Photo caption: Greenport/Southold/Mattituck senior running back Gage Suglia had more carries against Babylon than he ever had before. (Credit: Bob Liepa)