Vikings Shark-Bitten In PSAL Championship, Lose 12-6
When the PSAL football season began back in September there were probably few who expected the South Shore High School varsity football team to be in last Saturday’s all-Brooklyn championship game against Sheepshead Bay High School. Those skeptics also doubtlessly figured the No. 1 seeded Sharks, which averaged over 35 points a game during the regular season and first two playoff games, would devour the younger, 5th-ranked Vikings.
When the final seconds ticked off the game clock Saturday afternoon at Midwood Field, before a full house, as well as hundreds lining the street outside, the Sharks (13-0) were the city PSAL football champs for the second time in four years. However, though disappointed, the Vikings had nothing to be ashamed of, despite winding up on the losing end of a hard fought 12-6 game.
The attacking South Shore defense held opponents to less than two touchdowns or less in all but one regular season game, but two was too much this time as the Sharks’ swarming defense held South Shore’s offense at bay for most of the game, including less than 30 yards in the first half.
Even stopping Sheepshead three times in the red zone wasn’t enough for the battling Viking defense. One part of South Shore’s game that hurt them was special teams. Almost every Viking punt and kick off left the Sharks with good field position.
After both teams struggled to find offensive momentum through most of the first half, Sheepshead finally broke though late in the second quarter when Sharks’ quarterback Kelley Pierre hit wide receiver Adekunle Akingba at the five yard line. After making the catch he took a few steps and appeared to fall short of the end zone, but a nearby official called it a touchdown. Sheepshead kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead with 4:35 left in the half.
South Shore’s offense finally came to life on a 91-yard drive, highlighted by a razzle dazzle broken play. Viking QB David Legree handed off to senior running back Tyrone Battle who then gave the ball to wide receiver Parker Cantey. However, the Sharks defense trapped Cantey trapped behind the line of scrimmage so he pitched the ball back to Legree who spotted an open Battle downfield. The back caught Legree’s spiral pass and dashed towards the end zone but was stopped at the 11-yard line where he was tackled by two Shark defensemen.
A few plays later Daryle Bell scored on an inside 11-yard run. When the two-point conversion failed, South Shore trailed 7-6 with 3:02 left in the third quarter.
However the Viking’s newfound momentum was quickly lost, when Sheepshead’s Akingba ran the ensuing kickoff back to the Viking 42-yard line. Four plays later, Sheepshead was poised to score again from the 10-yard line when the third quarter ended.
Less than two minutes into the final quarter, Sheepshead’s Daquan Thomas scored on a 2-yard run, which was the game’s final tally.
South Shore was on the move again later in the fourth quarter after Sheepshead was called for pass interference putting the Vikings on their own 45. South Shore got as close as Sheepshead’s 30 with just over two minutes remaining, but the Sharks’ tough defense put an end to South Shore’s season on the next four plays, as Sheepshead had the ball over with 1:35 on the game clock.
While Salvato and his players were visibly let down Saturday after coming so far only to lose as they watched their opponents celebrate at midfield, the 11-year coach still had a glimmer of optimism when he spoke with the Canarsie Courier Monday afternoon.
“It was a close game, but (Sheepshead Bay’s) experienced leadership definitely was a factor. My guys are younger, but with this season under their belts, they can look forward with promise to next year.”
Less than a handful of Viking players will be lost to graduation with many returning key players now seasoned veterans after a successful 10-3 year.