By Dylan Butler
It was an early exam day at August Martin.
On opening day of the 2001 PSAL football season, many of the inexperienced Falcons got their first taste of varsity ball while city powerhouse Canarsie was eager to prove there is life after Leon Williams, an all-state linebacker who received a full scholarship to the University of Miami.
Led by running back Kendell Wilson and quarterback John Harvey, as well as the suffocating play of defensive end Domonique Laurent, it was the Chiefs who aced their first test with a 32-6 win Saturday.
“It was the first game of the post-Leon Williams era and we weren’t quite sure how we would come out,” said Canarsie head coach Mike Camardese. “Some people are looking past us, but we’re not dead yet. The heart is still beating.”
Offensively, it was Wilson who gave the Chiefs a jump start, gaining 63 of his 88 yards on two carries on Canarsie’s first possession of the game. After a 31-yard third down scurry, Canarsie’s senior running back garnered 32 yards to set up the Chiefs first score, as senior quarterback John Harvey burst up for the middle for an 11-yard touchdown rush to give Canarsie a 6-0 lead with 7:40 left in the first quarter.
“We proved something today,” Wilson said. “We made a statement today for the whole season, that we can lose big players and still come back and be a good football team.”
Some of August Martin’s inexperience showed itself during the team’s first series, when junior punter Devon Tyson was a dead duck following a high snap and was tackled on the Falcons 35.
Canarsie capitalized on Martin’s miscue right away, as Harvey’s lone completion found Kevin Lawrence, who split a pair of Falcons defenders for a 35-yard touchdown pass to give the Chiefs a 12-0 lead with five minutes left in the first quarter.
“They’re young kids and they’re inconsistent,” said August Martin head coach Mike Greene. “We had some growing pains, but we saw some bright spots.”
One of those bright spots for Martin was the play of junior quarterback Jason Boyce, who was 6-for-15 for 96 yards with one touchdown and one interception in his first varsity start. Tyson was also impressive with a pair of catches as a wide receiver in the second half.
Boyce connected with senior Shane Smith, who beat double coverage for a 35-yard touchdown pass to bring the Falcons within 12-6 with 0:15 left in the first quarter.
However, August Martin was once again victimized by a high snap on a punt attempt, as Tyson’s punt from the Falcons 22 yard line was blocked by Canarsie’s Gerard Griffith and recovered by the Chiefs on the Martin 4. Wilson scored easily on the next play as Canarsie took a commanding 20-6 lead with 2:30 left in the second quarter.
“We started out playing hard, but we didn’t go from there,” said Martin senior running back Anthony Pittman. “Everybody thought it would be easy. We need to work harder. We weren’t crisp.”
Canarsie went ahead 26-6 on Harvey’s second quarterback keeper, this one from 20 yards, with 11:41 left in the third quarter.
The Chiefs’ defense also wanted to show they can survive without Williams and 6-foot-2, 245-pound Laurent proved that in a big way, giving Boyce headaches all day. Laurent had two sacks, two rushed passes and three tackles to lead the Chiefs stifling defense.
“They tried to switch up with three different tackles on me,” Laurent said. “If they put a bigger, slower guy on me I used my speed and if they put a smaller, quicker person on me I used my power. The whole line played well, not just me. I just happened to get a couple of open shots.”
Canarsie capped its scoring with one minute left in the fourth quarter when senior fullback Miguel Reyes rushed for a three-yard touchdown to put the Chiefs ahead, 32-6.
Martin looks for its first win of the season Saturday when they head to Staten Island to take on Port Richmond at 11 a.m., while Canarsie hosts perennial power Wagner, at noon.
Campus Magnet wins by forfeit. Thomas Jefferson was forced to forfeit the game because the team had just seven eligible players on their roster, 18 shy of PSAL rules. The Bulldogs will play at Evander Childs (0-1) Saturday at 11 a.m.
Far Rockaway 22, Bryant 0. The SeaHorses christened their new field with a dominating performance over the Owls. Sophomore running back Michael Toney rushed for 120 yards on 20 carries, while senior back Rashid Peterson garnered 120 yards on 10 carries, including a 60-yard touchdown gallop. Quarterback Aaron Pegues ran for a seven-yard score and threw for one, finding Marlon Rodriguez for a 42-yard touchdown. Far Rockaway hosts John Adams Saturday at 11 a.m. while Bryant takes on Flushing at Flushing Memorial Field at 11 a.m.
Boys & Girls 8, Long Island City 6. Kermit Atkinson capped a 65-yard drive with a bootleg run to tie the score for the Kangeroos and Anteas Reid scored the winning two-point conversion. LIC heads to McKee/Staten Island Tech (0-1) Saturday at noon.
James Madison 26, Springfield Gardens 0. Brandon Rush led Springfield Gardens with 26 yards on 10 carries. The Golden Eagles are slated to host Columbus (1-0) Saturday at 11 a.m.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.