Text and Photos By Jerry Del Priore
The Canarsie Varsity football team was in a must-win situation Sunday in its regular season finale against Campus Magnet. If the Chiefs pulled out the victory, the possibility of obtaining one of the final PSAL City Conference playoffs spots would improve.
But Canarsie (3-7) failed to cash in on three red zone opportunities in the first half, and compounded its woes with multiple mistakes in the second en route to a 22-0 defeat to the Bulldogs at home.
The loss ended what was a disappointing year for the entire Chiefs family, including head coach Kyle Allen, who had higher expectation for a team with a lot of talent. But he said that lack of roster depth, which led to lack of team dedication at times, did play into their performance this season.
“It’s upsetting because of the talent level that we had, but you got to take into consideration the low numbers as well,” Allen explained. “I’m not trying to make any excuses, but when you have kids with a lot of talent who didn’t want to commit, it’s hard.
“It’s easy not to commit when there’s nobody pushing you for your spot. You got 32-33 kids on your roster, and there’s nobody pushing to make the next player better. That’s when you get the excuse not to go to practice or go hard, because there’s no one else to replace them.”
After a scoreless first half, Canarsie fumbled the ball at its own 13-yard line on the second play of the third quarter. Two plays later, Campus Magnet ran it from the 12 to go up 6-0, with a successful two-point conversion making it 8-0 early in the second half.
The Chiefs had their chance to get on the scoreboard, but the Bulldogs blocked a field goal to thwart the scoring threat.
Campus Magnet rounded out the scoring with a pick six midway through the fourth quarter, and a one-yard rushing touchdown late in the contest.
Senior defensive stalwart Devonte Malone was the Chiefs’ lone bright spot, registering three sacks in the game. Malone’s 21 sacks on the campaign tied an all-time team record, shared with last year’s star defensive player, Kamari Jones-Hunter, now at Monroe Community College.
Allen took solace in a junior varsity squad – who is currently 7-3 after going 0-10 last year – that will replace a majority of Canarsie’s graduating seniors. Although Allen said it could be a two-year process to return to varsity prominence, he’s confident the close-knit coaching staff and players will make it happen.
“We coach JV, not that I’m trying to take the credit for them, by committee. The staff works together on JV and varsity,” he said. “It’s one program, one family. We win together on JV, we lose together on varsity. But we have a bright future. I told the kids it will take us maybe two years to be one of those powerhouse teams, but we’ll get there.”
The Chiefs finished the 2015 campaign in 14th place with 596 power points.