By Jerry Del Priore
The Canarsie Chiefs had pretty much dominated Truman in their football PSAL City Division home opener Saturday, leading, 44-26, with approximately four minutes remaining in the tilt.
But a Truman player and Chiefs Elijah Lewis had a seemingly on-field innocent exchange near Canarsie’s sideline.
However, the Mustang player grabbed Lewis’ facemask and threw him to the ground, forcing the junior to defend himself. The altercation sparked a bench-clearing brawl on both sides, taking away some of the solid effort the Chiefs had put forth in their first win of the young season.
The referees had mentioned that four Canarsie players might suffer possible suspensions for an undetermined amount of games in the coming days, pending review. No word on any Truman players, but it seems likely a few will also get penalized.
At this point, Allen said that Canarsie (1-1) would not have to forfeit the game, but things can change, he noted.
“Elijah Lewis did the right thing. He was defending himself,” the sixth-year coach implored. “Their whole benched cleared. That has to be taking into consideration. And then our benched cleared after that, but they were defending their teammates.”
Not to let the team’s on-gridiron performance go unnoticed, however, Allen gave credited where credit was due.
“For the most part, it was a good defensive effort. And offensively, we needed that, to explode for 44 points, which was great,” he said. “Overall, I’m proud of the effort, I’m proud of the week of practice we had.”
Things began well for the Chiefs, as they returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and made good on the ensuing two-point conversion for an early 8-0 advantage.
Much to Canarsie’s dismay, Truman (0-2) responded with a TD of their own, to narrow the gap at 8-6 in the middle of the first quarter.
Senior running back Jamel Cayard hit pay dirt on a two-yard run and another successful two-point conversion extended the Chiefs’ lead to 16-6 near the end of the first period.
Canarsie tacked on another touchdown when senior quarterback Sameer Akesson ran a broken play into the end zone to swell its advantage to 22-6 early in the second quarter.
Not going down without a battle, the Mustang ran the kickoff back for a score and punched in the two-point play to slice the deficit at 22-14 midway through the second period.
However, Akesson connected with sophomore Joshua Adelson on a 15-yard TD completion than ran the score to 30-14 with 4:00 minutes remaining in the first half.
Truman scored on a six-yard touchdown scamper to inch closer at 30-20 midway through the third quarter.
Not to be surpassed, Akesson used his feet to find daylight and another touchdown to distance the Chiefs from the Mustangs at 36-20.
But Truman scored again to narrow the gap at 36-26 in the fourth quarter before Canarsie’s Calvin Hutchinson ran it in from the Mustangs’ 25, and junior Adisa Isaac reeled in the two-point conversion pass to cap the game’s scoring.
Akesson led the offensive charge, scoring four touchdowns–two on the ground, and two in the air. But it took a confidence-building pep talk from Allen to Akesson to instill trust in himself.
“In the beginning of the game he was so worried about making a mistake that he was afraid the pull the ball (in) and run in our zone read,” Allen explained. “So, I pulled him to the side and told him trust himself. Once he pulled the ball and realized he was still alive, and his heart was still beating, he turned into a different player.”
Akesson rushed for 137 yards on 11 carries, and senior Johnny Watson rolled up 84 on 16 touches.
On the defensive side of the field, seniors Eric Anderson and Omar Shehu made eight tackles apiece while Anderson recovered two fumbles and Cayard had an interception.
Canarsie hosts perennial powerhouse Erasmus Hall Saturday at 11:00 a.m.