Saugerties Football Team is playoff bound

If the Saugerties High School varsity football team was looking to make a statement with the playoffs looming, they couldn’t have played it any better than they did last Saturday with a dominant 63-0 Mum Bowl drubbing of visiting sectional foe Monticello. The annual home extravaganza saw the Sawyers firing on all cylinders, with senior quarterback Matt Bucci tossing a school-record six touchdown passes.

Bucci connected on 9-of-13 passes for 223 yards, with his favorite target, senior wide receiver Sean Costello, hauling in a pair of touchdown tosses. J.P. Monaghan, Jake Piratzky, Anthony Paff and Graeme Knisell were also the beneficiaries of Bucci’s scoring spree before a capacity crowd of Mum Bowl revelers and gridiron enthusiasts.

“Matt’s been exceptional this year,” said the Sawyers’ first-year coach Drew Carpino. “We kind of saw it happening with all the preseason stuff we did with Matt, the seven-on-seven work. He did really shine in that offseason stuff. He’s a third-year varsity starter, and I think he’s third in New York State in total yards for a quarterback. That’s unbelievable. I’m just lucky we have that, and the connection he’s made with our senior wide receiver Sean Costello has been awesome.”

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Costello amassed 90 yards on three catches, while Piratzky picked up 70 yards on two receptions. But the Sawyers, who led 56-0 at the half, also scored on the ground, with Jimmy Heinlein finding the end zone on a 70-yard hustle and Anthony Owen rushing for a 15-yard score. The Sawyers ran the ball 14 times overall, with ten different players combining for an awesome 170 yards.

“It was our senior day, it was homecoming, and we just wanted to get everybody involved and active,” said Carpino of the impressive panoply of ground attackers. “Everything was clicking, and our offensive coordinator, Lee Meisner, did a great job. Six different guys scored touchdowns. We were spreading the ball around, and all our weapons were firing.”

Saugerties was also dominant on the defensive end, with Dan Ball and Craig Laurey each contributing five tackles to preserve the shutout.

The Sawyers are 4-2 overall, and 2-1 in Section IX, Class A, Division II competition. They have just one game, a road contest against league opponent Wallkill on Friday, before they head to the playoffs.

The win over Monticello was crucial. The visitors were looking to improve on a much closer defeat a year ago, when the Sawyers won 53-42.

Carpino said the home crowd played a key role in setting the atmosphere for the Sawyers on Saturday. If Saugerties starts the postseason on its home turf, Carpino is hoping for the same kind of turnout.

“It’s huge,” he said. “Most of our success so far this year has been on the road. It was good to come home and show the community that we’re clicking now. We want a home playoff game. We want our home fans to be with us and support us. And we want to win that playoff game at home.”

The home playoff game may be key. The team’s looking to put a cork in a long drought that stretches back to before anyone on the current roster was born. The team had its last win in a playoff game 24 years ago. They play Wallkill on the road Friday, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m.

“Everything is just coming together at the right time of the year. If we win this Friday night we’ll be 5-2 and we could secure potentially a home playoff game,” said Carpino. “That’s been the goal all along, to get a home playoff game and try to get that elusive first playoff win since 1994. That’s the goal, and obviously we’d like to keep playing after that. We’re getting better each game offensively and defensively, and we’ll see how it goes on Friday night.”

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