Chiefs Fail To Tame Lions In PSAL Semifinal Loss
By Ronald Quartimon
The Canarsie Chiefs faced a talented and undefeated Lehman Lions team last Saturday in their quest to reach this week’s PSAL High School Football Championship. But, when the final gun sounded, the Chiefs could not tame the Lions’ juggernaut and ended their 2001, season with a disappointing 26-8 loss in the Bronx.
The Lions roared out of the gate in the semifinal matchup, scoring all 26 points in the first half. After that, Lehman’s tough defense shut down the Chiefs’ ground attack. Not until late in the fourth quarter, when the game was out of reach, did the Chiefs finally score on a 5 yard pass play from senior quarterback John Harvey to Kevin Lawrence. Canarsie scored the 2-point conversion on a pass from Harvey to Nelson Castillo.
The Lions got on the scoreboard in their first offensive series with a 6-yard touchdown run by Eliezer Rivera, who scored on a 22-yard run later in the half following a botched Canarsie punt.
The Chiefs’ defense, which actually played well, basically broke down on three plays in the first half that gave the Lions a substantial lead.
"We made every mistake we coul make in the first half," said Canarsie Head Coach Camardese.
However, much to the credit of the Canasrsie players and coaching staff, after being down 26-0 they refused to give up. At half-time the Chiefs players showed tremendous character and heart as a football team as they rallied around each other and challenged one another to "leave it on the field."
"We know we are better than this and we know we can play better than this," blared Dominque Laurent as each member of the team joined in agreement.
The second half showed a Chiefs team that refused to bow as they came out with intensity as they fought and scratched for every yard until the final minute against the undefeated Lehman squad.
It was a tale of two halfs as the Chiefs defense shut down the Lion’s offense, highlighted by two interceptions and a fumble recovery, giving the Canarsie offense an opportunity to get back in it.
But the Lion’s defense also stiffened and held their ground with two interceptions of their own and a fumble recovery. The Chiefs were unable to get a running game going, which had been their bread and butter all season, Canarsie was forced to spend most of the second half attempting to pass, but the pressure from the Lions’ defense made it a very difficult.
The Lions were led by junior linebacker Ian McSwain, who sacked Canarsie quarterback John Harvey five times and amassed 14 tackles, and Matthew King, who had eight tackles and two sacks.
Camardese stated, "We couldn’t rock those two guys. We’ve been behind all year, but you can’t fall behind a good team and Lehman’s a good team with a very good defense."
Another factor that contributed to the difficult afternoon Canarsie had was the number of penalties called against them, some of which really hurt the Chiefs chances to move the ball. In one instance, despite the score and a controversial penalty, Canarsie pushed forward and converted the first down anyway, but were unable to score.
In their final game of the season the Canarsie Chiefs gave it their all and had nothing to be ashamed of. To their credit they made it to the semifinals with a team that many considered was not as talented as previou teams, but was certainly all heart.
Lehman Head Coach Carmine Colasanto praised the Cheifs, saying, "They never folded. They played their hearts out. They’re a great team and we have a lot of respect for them."
The Chiefs’ roster lists 26 seniors who are scheduled for graduation next year, including Harvey, fullback Miguel Reyes, defensive end Dominque Laurent, defensive back Lennox Halstead, linebacker Chris Alceus and Wilson, who rushed for 1,100 yards this season and is recognized by the PSAL among the top ground gainers in the league. He will likely be named to the All-City All-Star team.