By Jerry Del Priore
Canarsie head football coach Kyle Allen told his players, particularly the seniors, that it was gut check time. If they wanted to stay relevant in the PSAL City Conference playoff hunt, this was the time to go all out, and leave it all on the field. They might not get another crack at football in the future, so what better time than the present?
With that in mind, the Chiefs (3-4) went out and put forth one of their grittiest, complete efforts of the year, outlasting the Warriors, 20-18, Saturday at home.
“I spoke to them all week long, and I told them, the 25 seniors on the team, ‘the NFL has job applications for about 300 spots a year, with about 100,000 applicants. And there’s a chance that this may be it for you with football.
“If you want to walk away from this in three weeks, then don’t play hard. So, you have to put everything on line this week,’” Allen said. “And they played for each other. So, it feels good to see the kids have that.”
Canarsie currently sits in 13th place, with 376 power points, a point out of the playoffs, with three games remaining in the regular season.
The Warriors (3-4) scored first on a 36-yard touchdown pass from junior signal caller Quincy Barnes to junior Kwannah Kollie to draw first blood at 6-0 midway through the first quarter.
The Chiefs pulled even at six on a 99-yard touchdown bomb from senior quarterback Damario Spalding to senior running back Shawn Cabbell, a Canarsie football record, with 1:43 remaining in the second half.
Curtis took a 12-6 lead on 47-yard rushing TD by sophomore Ty-Son Lawton midway through the third period.
But a fake punt called by senior Cyree Scott paid off as he advanced the pigskin to the Warriors’ 48 for the first down.
The Chiefs proceeded to move the ball down the field, with senior tailback Palyte Stubbs capping the drive on a 2-yard TD rush that knotted the game at 12 with 1:54 left in the third quarter.
When Canarsie needed it most, Stubbs took it upon himself again, as shed a tackler at the line, and then bolted for a 44-yard touchdown run. Lancaster followed with a nice the two-point conversion reception, making it 20-12 Chiefs early in the fourth period.
Allen called the two-point conversion pass the “play that went unnoticed that actually won the game for us, if you really think about it,” he said. “Without those two points, we’re still playing right now. You don’t know want the heck might happen.”
Not to be outdone, the Warriors responded when Kollie pulled down an 8-yard touchdown pass from Barnes to make it 20-18 with 9:00 remaining on the clock. But the Chiefs thwarted the two-point conversion toss to preserve their lead.
Curtis would make Canarsie sweat, though. After recovering the onside kick at the Chiefs’ 44, the Warriors moved the ball to the 19, after Barnes faked out senior linebacker Devonte Malone.
However, Malone would avenge himself on the next play, as he smashed through the offense line like a player possessed, and dropped Barnes for a big loss at the 28.
The rest of the drive ended in a wiper for the Warriors, as the Chiefs walked away with the thrilling victory.
Malone, who registered 15 tackles and three sacks, played fierce, inspired defensive, as learned his grandfather has cancer, and dedicated the game to him.
“This week, I found out my grandfather had cancer,” Malone said. “I felt like I had to do it for him and my family. I just had to play hard. It was a must-win game. I played with a lot emotion.”
Defensive back Jesse Rivera contributed eight tackles and senior Christian Scott recorded seven stops and a sack.
Offensively, Stubbs rushed for 113 yards on 11 carries with two scores while Spalding completed 10 of 24 attempts for 226 and a TD. Cabbell (four catches) and Lancaster (three catches) had 152 and 56 receiving yards, respectively.
Canarsie travels to South Shore Friday for the bragging right trophy game at 7:00 p.m.