In his first varsity start for the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck high school football team Friday night, Ahkee Anderson provided ample demonstrations of how to turn a negative into a positive. And by that, we’re talking in terms of yardage.
Twice on successive possessions in the second quarter, shotgun snaps got away from the sophomore quarterback. Both times he chased down the ball, with Hampton Bays defenders bearing down on him, raced out of trouble, looked upfield and found wide-open receivers for long completions. A 52-yarder to Sean McElroy set up Sean Sepenoski’s 8-yard touchdown run for a 6-0 lead, and then Anderson followed that with a similar play, hitting Sepenoski for a 37-yard connection after collecting a loose ball.
“It seemed to be our best play for a while,” coach Jack Martilotta said after Greenport’s season-opening 27-14 loss in Hampton Bays.
“I just try to work hard all throughout the play, no matter what happens, you know, try to make anything out of something,” said Anderson.
Time and time again, the 5-10, 150-pound Anderson seemed to find ways to pull a rabbit out of the hat, eluding pass rushers and leaving them grasping at thin air. When his night’s work was done, he had respectable numbers to show for it: 12-for-21, 166 yards.
“At first I was really nervous and everyone was calming me down, but once I got out there, you know, I got hit around a little bit, I was fine,” said Anderson.
He was irritated by the one interception he threw, but even that long heave late in the third quarter wasn’t exactly a gift. Cornerback James Moscato made a tremendous one-handed grab along the left sideline.
All in all, it wasn’t a bad performance by Anderson, who led the Porters in rushing with 70 yards from 10 carries, including a 34-yard TD dash.
Afterward, Martilotta shook his head while recounting some of the moves Anderson made.
“He’s a special athlete and a very coachable kid, a really good kid, and I mean he made some plays today,” the coach said. “I just had to shake my head.”
Referring to Anderson’s uniform number, Hampton Bays coach Rich Doulos said, “Number eight is a playmaker.”
• Swann’s debut
Jude Swann played his first football game Friday night and received good reviews — even from himself.
“I thought there was butterflies in my stomach,” he said. “I didn’t think I was going to do as good as I did.”
Swann, 6-5, 275, played tight end and defensive end. With only one scrimmage under his belt, the junior grabbed four passes for 42 yards. On defense early in the game, he threw Nico Antieri down for a 6-yard loss. He also came up with a fumble recovery in the second quarter.
“He’s still got a lot to learn, to be sure, but he was nothing short of impressive on defense, and on offense,” Jack Martilotta said. “I mean, I give the kids who tackled him a lot of credit. I mean, he is a big boy, there’s no way around it. And he moves well. He jumped up, caught some balls. I mean, it was really nice to see.”
So, what did Swann think of his first game?
He said, “I thought it would be much harder.”
Photo caption: Sophomore quarterback Ahkee Anderson went 12-for-21 passing for 166 yards in his first varsity start for Greenport/Southold/Mattituck. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)