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Football: Lawrence brings Porters game, and laughs

Greenport place kicker Tashan Lawrence #8 executes a perfect on side kick to start the first quarter against Wyandanch at Greenport High School in Greenport on September 7th, 2016

At a school barbecue on Friday, Greenport High School senior Tashan Lawrence remarked that he could go for something to eat. Hearing this, math teacher Greg Dlhopolsky told him: “The food is literally 100 yards away. All you have to do is run.”

To that the sharp-witted Lawrence replied, “The only thing I run 100 yards for, Mr. D, is touchdowns.”

Greenport/Southold/Mattituck football coach Jack Martilotta smiled when that story was relayed to him. Lawrence has a way of putting smiles on peoples’ faces, whether it be through his sense of humor or his play on the field.

After having not played football since he was on a Police Athletic League team five or six years ago, Lawrence decided to come out for this team this year. Both he and the Porters are glad he did.

“It was just my senior year and I decided, why not?” he said. “Give it a shot and see if I like it, and I love it. I wish I played previous years.”

So do the Porters. Despite being away from the game, Lawrence has quickly made up for lost time. He has been among the team’s leading contributors, playing wide receiver, cornerback and handling kicking duties.

“He was a huge pickup for us, a very unexpected one, and he’s really stepped in and he’s a two-way starter,” Martilotta said. “The kid’s real good. I think he’s kicking himself for not coming out sooner, but I think he’s a real solid player. He’s a huge contributor.”

Lawrence was involved in some notable plays Friday night when Greenport lost its homecoming game, 36-16, to Wyandanch. He opened the game by popping up a high onside kick that teammate Gage Suglia came up with, setting up a 13-yard touchdown run by Jake Skrezec. Later in the first quarter, Lawrence showed he has speed, catching up to Wyandanch’s quick Jamonie Berry for a touchdown-saving tackle on Berry’s 42-yard gain. Lawrence also knocked Christian Flowers out of bounds on a failed Wyandanch two-point conversion and caught an eight-yard pass.

For the season, Lawrence has 12 solo tackles (one for a loss), two assists, an interception and a fumble recovery.

“He’s played great,” teammate Keegan Syron said. “He’s an outstanding athlete, so that’s why it comes so easily to him.”

Asked if football does come easily to him, Lawrence answered, “Some things have, some things haven’t, but I think I’m adjusting well.”

Suglia, who used to play PAL ball with Lawrence, said he was “ecstatic” when he learned that Lawrence was coming out for the team this year. “I wasn’t sure where he was going to really fit in, but he plays that cornerback spot great and he’s a good wide receiver, and he can kick the ball,” Suglia said. “He makes it sound and look easier than it actually is.”

And what about that Lawrence sense of humor?

“He’s hilarious,” Syron said. “I love his sense of humor. That’s probably one of the reasons we’re friends. I see him all the time, always making jokes, making everyone happy.”

That jocular personality evidently hasn’t hurt Lawrence’s popularity. For the fourth consecutive year, he was elected to be Greenport’s homecoming king by his peers.

What does that mean?

“I’m a popular kid,” he answered. “Everybody loves me.”

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Photo caption: Tashan Lawrence executing a successful onside kick that teammate Gage Suglia recovered for Greenport/Southold/Mattituck on the opening kickoff against Wyandanch on Friday night. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)