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LIVINGSTON MANOR, NY — On Saturday afternoon, September 28, the Livingston Manor pep band heralded the recognition of four senior football players before the opening kickoff between the combined home team Blue Devils of Roscoe/Livingston Manor/Downsville (R/LM/D) (0-3) and the visiting Sullivan West Bulldogs (3-1).
Going into the game, both squads were in search of their first win of the season. Between the illustrious high school gridiron coaching careers of Fred Ahart of R/LM/D and Ron Bauer of Sullivan West, these two veterans have more than a century—that’s right, 100-plus years—of combined leadership at the varsity helm.
Patrick DiBartolo, Isaiah Grace, Jesse Ouimet and Ty Fagan are the home team seniors suiting up for their final season,
“It was a bittersweet moment; it’s his senior year,” said Elizabeth DiBartolo, mother of the 18-year-old end/defense back.
She expressed pride in her other two boys, both recent Manor grads: Kristopher, who was class valedictorian, and Derek, who answered his country’s call to arms by serving with the U.S. Army overseas in far-flung Afghanistan.
Asked to reflect on what it was like to have her eldest serving in Afghanistan, DiBartolo explained, “It was the hardest thing not knowing what was going on… He was in the line of duty all the time, it was scary.”
While at Manor, Kristopher played basketball and football, while his older brother participated in soccer and basketball.
So what about Patrick? “Mom was against football for Patrick, but I gave in for his senior year,” replied Elizabeth.
And then onto the game.
The first three quarters were played with a palpable sense of endurance on both sides of the bench, but were remarkable when neither team was able to post numbers on the scoreboard and a seeming endless series of turnovers.
Early in the first frame, the home team shut down a Bulldogs drive inside the five-yard line, but that was about it until the fourth quarter, when Sullivan West’s coach Ron Bauer pulled a switcheroo, moving regular starting quarterback Gabe Campanelli from fullback back to the helm, a move that radically turned the tide in favor of Sullivan West.
At 9:08 in the fourth quarter, Campanelli picked off a Manor pass and scurried down to the opposition’s five-yard line, followed in short order by taking it across the line to put the Bulldogs on the scoreboard at 8:26.
The conversion failed, but Sullivan West was up 6-0.
The Bulldogs stuck again at 2:30 in the wake of a 65-yard run by Tarrell Spencer, who followed up with a 2-point conversion to give the visitors a 14-0 lead.
With 20 seconds remaining in the game, Campanelli scored from the 2-yard line, and sewed up the win with a 2-point conversion, slithering through the defensive line to put the game on ice 22-0.
Stats: Sullivan West’s leading rushers were Spencer with two carries for 89 yards, Henry Peters with 13 carries for 45 yards, Campanelli with nine carries for 25 yards; Gavin Hauschold was the leading passer, landing three out of five passes for 27 yards; Campanelli was the leading receiver with 16 yards.
The leading rushers for R/LM/D were Isaiah Grace with 13 for 53 yards and David Diaz with six for 19 yards.
“There were a lot of turnovers on both sides, and both teams played hard,” said R/LM/D coach Fred Ahart. “The big play was Gabe Campanelli’s interception that led to a touchdown.”
Ron Bauer, coach of legions of local footballers, said of the game, “It was kind of sloppy at the beginning, but we had great defense… It was good for them, it showed them if they keep doing their job, it eventually off in the fourth quarter.”
“Gabe did a good job when we needed him,” added Bauer.
Sullivan West boasts a bench of eight seniors of the team: Game Campanelli, Henry Peters, Mason Reimer, Kevin O’Connor, Hunter Mall, Enoch Peters, Derrick Hanslmaier and Joe Furlipa.
And then it was Campanelli’s turn to talk about the game.
“I started out as fullback, coach wanted to see if putting me in a fullback would give me more potential to run, but giving me the option as quarterback was more effective… The switch got everyone hyped again,” he said. “We knew we had to settle down in the second half, and we made a great play and it turned the game around.”
Goals for the season?
“Hopefully go to sectionals,” replied Campanelli, who noted that his younger brother Chris, a sophomore, is starting center.
So what’s Campanelli’s passion and driving force to play football?
“I just like making my dad Tony proud, this is all for him… He likes watching his sons play.”
As the tempo of the game ebbed and flowed during the hot afternoon, Manor’s pep band kept up a spirted cadence under the autumn sky as the day began to cool off.