LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — It was a game of the art of execution and a sorrowful loss to the community.
Prior to the kickoff, the crowd, the refs and the players, along with their coaches, paid homage with a few moments of silence with bowed heads to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) Officer Corey J. Hornicek, a Sullivan West grad of ’05 who suddenly passed away just two days before the league matchup.
Richard Ross, former long-time sports editor of The River Reporter, created a collage of photographs of Hornicek in gridiron action for display in a local funeral home as a personal tribute from the soul on Sunday, October 6.
“Corey was an integral part of the 2004 Section IX Class B Championship team,” recalled Ross. “He was a vibrant, energetic presence, always upbeat, smiling but intense about football. He was one of the most positive, amenable and charismatic people I have known in all my years of sports coverage.”
Hornicek (July 29, 1987 – October 2, 2019) passed away at the young age of 32. After graduating the local high school, he received a bachelor’s degree in wildlife management from SUNY Cobleskill, and in 2017 achieved “his life-long dream of becoming” a NYS DEC officer. In the same year he married his beloved wife Kayla (Peters) Hornicek.
After the somber ceremony of remembrance and reflection drew to a close, it was time to play a game of eight-man football on a chilly night at Hornicek’s alma mater.
The Bears scored first in the game at 6:11 in the opening quarter on a three-yard run by Tri-Valley’s junior OB Keegan Streimer, but his 2-point conversion failed.
At the 7:32 mark in the following frame, Streimer competed a 21-yard pass to Colin Mickelson, and a two-point conversion run by Austin Hartman put the Bears up 16-0 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Tri-Valley’s Ethan Shaver sprinted across the line for a 62-yeard TD, but a two-point conversion rush by Streimer came up short with a determined Bulldogs defensive stand.
In the final frame, Sullivan West got on the scoreboard at 8:48, as QB Gabe Campanelli connected with Hunter Mall on a 19-yard pass, and later pushed it into pay dirt on a two-yard run to make it a 22-8 contest.
The Bears closed out their victory at 6:11 in the last quarter on a nine-yard run by Shaver, who added a couple more points on a two-point conversion run.
High school football is all about the guts and glory of executing plays designed to post points on the scoreboard, while thwarting the opponent’s efforts to win.
On Friday night on October 4, under the lights at Sullivan West, the home-team Bulldogs hosted the Bears of Tri-Valley, in game that showcased the guts of determined hard hitting by both squads echoing off the stands, and the glory of a relentless offense by the modern-day visiting gridiron gladiators, who in the end defeated the home team 30-8.
On total offense, the Bears 3-1 (2-0) outgunned the Bulldogs 1-3 (1-2) 299 yards to 208 yards, completed 55 passes versus 36 and out-rushed the home team 244 yards to 172 yards.
Yardage lost to turnovers nicked the Bulldogs, as they fumbled the ball three times, made a few high snaps from center and were called on penalties five times, one of which was for unsportsmanlike conduct, a call that set the stage for a Tri-Valley score from the 21-yard marker.
Tri-Valley’s top rushers: Shaver (14 carries for 139 yards), Hartman (2/47), Quincy Adams (5/26), Streimer (16/23).
Sullivan West’s big ground pounders: Campanelli (26/138), Enoch Peters (6/20), Henry Peters (3/12).
“He’s a tough kid, works hard and has no problem being physical when he has to be physical,” said Bears coach Botsford of his star senior running back Shaver, adding of his starting junior QB Streimer, “He’s been doing a tremendous job with his reads in our option run game… He’s being very patient and taking what the defense is giving him, which is opening up opportunities for his teammates.
“Austin Hartman is a dual-threat running back who’s just as good running the football as he is catching the ball out of the backfield… It’s pretty amazing,” said Botsford of his freshman running back/defensive back.
Sullivan West’s “Legends of Section IX” coach Ron Bauer summed up the home stand loss in a few words.
“They executed better than us… We played hard, but made too many mistakes.”