TRR photos by Ted Waddell

Hot pursuit: Eldred’s Sawyer Halter sprints downfield as Sullivan West’s Jason Gaebel closes in.

Bulldogs waltz to 18-0 win

“We’re going to show ‘em…” — Yellowjacket QB Patrick Kinney

LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — Eleven minus three equals eight.

For some local high school football teams, that’s the new math in town as they switch this season on the gridiron from traditional 11-man teams to eight-man football.

That was the case on Friday night, September 7, as the home-team Bulldogs of Sullivan West (1-0) took on the Eldred Yellowjackets (0-1), in what was each squad’s first game of the year.

In a defensive rumble that featured seemingly unending penalty calls, high snaps to punters and more than a couple of fumbles, both teams got their collective feet wet—both literally and figuratively—as they adjusted to new eight-man formations while battling mightily on a wet field, in the final minutes besieged by a pesky drizzle.

In the wake of a scoreless opening frame, Sullivan West’s Henry Peters put six on the scoreboard with a 12-yard scamper into pay dirt.

The two-yard pass conversion attempt went south, but the Dawgs were up 6-0.

Sullivan West’s QB Gabe Campanelli later added six on a one-yard rush up the pipe, but the PAT conversion attempt came up short, as it was blocked by a surging defensive effort by Eldred.

Adding insult to injury, Campanelli took the wind out of the Yellowjackets’ sails as he connected to James DeAveriro on a 13-yard pass to close out the win for the Bulldogs 18-0.

Steve Barone is back at the helm for Eldred.

“Sullivan West’s quarterback is a big, heavy, solid kid,” he said of Campanelli.

Of the evolution of last year’s crop of Jackets to this season, he said, ”Last year they didn’t know football… this year it hurts them that they lost… that’s a positive step.

Taking a cue from the adage “no gain, no pain,” Barone said he was encouraged that his players showed emotion in the face of defeat.

“They showed some emotion… the loss hurt ‘em, they were crying…we’ll get back to work next week, keep getting better.”

What about eight-man football?

“Without it, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to play… with the drop in attendance [at several local schools], I think it’s going to expand; it’s good,” said Barone.

Eldred’s Chett Kelty had 12 carries for 41 yards; Jordan Reed9 for 45; Patrick Kinney 9 for 21; Joe Furlipa 12 tackles.

“It was a rough first game,” said Eldred’s quarterback Patrick Kinney.

How about eight-man football?

“I think it’s a great format for our area… We’re such a small school at Eldred, and it helps us play football.”

So what’s great about the gridiron game?

“The teammates, even though we had a tough game, all out teammates played together.”

Kinney’s take what the new year of football?

“We have high hopes for the season… we’re going to show ‘em.” 

Sullivan West’s veteran football coach Ron Bauer said that while the teams played hard, the wet field conditions were a factor on both sides of the bench, “We were very sloppy… fumbles and stuff.”

He credited the foresight of Eldred in practicing at night during the two days preceding the game to “beat the heat of the day,” while the Dawgs skipped practice during the run-up to their inaugural game of the season.

What about eight-man football?

“Well, it’s football… it’s a little different,” replied Bauer. “It’s still blocking and tackling.”

Campanelli added his two cents on eight-man football.

“It’s definitely a change… it seems to be a bit faster.”

During the game, he posted 19 carries for 112 yards, including a one-yard TD, plus a 13-yarder to DeAveiro.

Henry Peters was 9 for 73, including a 12-yard TD run.

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