By Dylan Butler
August Martin football coach Mike Greene summed up his team's 34-6 loss to Canarsie in the PSAL quarterfinals Saturday with one simple phrase.
“Age rules over youth all the time,” Greene said.
From the first practice of the year, Greene knew he had a young team. With fullback Anthony Pittman the lone returning senior starter, several Falcons made their first varsity start in a 32-6 opening day loss to the same Chiefs Sept. 8.
Martin continued to suffer growing pains, losing two of its next three games before reeling off five straight wins to advance to the PSAL quarterfinals for the first time in three years.
But against third-seeded Canarsie, many of the pitfalls of youth that were absent the past month or so crept up and hurt No. 7 Martin at the most inopportune time. The Falcons missed tackles, argued with officials, were whistled for costly penalties and bickered openly when things started to get tough.
“We beat ourselves,” said Martin senior wide receiver/safety Shaine Smith. “We didn’t listen to the snap calls, we weren’t containing our blocks. We fought amongst ourselves, that's how Canarsie got us.”
Martin's squabbling was not lost on the host Chiefs, who advance to the semifinals to face second-seeded Lehman Saturday. The winner plays either Sheepshead Bay or Wagner in the PSAL final Dec. 2 at Midwood
“Once we started putting up the points they started arguing with each other,” said Canarsie senior running back Kendell Wilson, who rushed for 122 yards and three touchdowns. “Once a team starts arguing with each other, they give up the game.”
August Martin (6-4) came out firing as junior quarterback Jason Boyce connected with Smith for a 38-yard completion on the first play of the game. Set up by Moutstapha Johnson's 21-yard gain on a fake punt on fourth and 10 from the Canarsie 33, Pittman booted a 32-yard field goal as the Falcons took a 3-0 lead with 8:47 left in the first quarter.
Any momentum Martin should have gained from the first strike was dashed immediately as Canarsie senior fullback Miguel Reyes broke free for a 54-yard gain on the Chiefs first play from scrimmage. Wilson followed with his first touchdown on a six-yard run as Canarsie (9-1) went ahead 6-3 just 48 seconds later.
Aided by a physically superior offensive line, Canarsie senior quarterback John Harvey had 144 yards on just four carries in the first half and set up Wilson's second touchdown, a one-yard scamper, with back-to-back keepers totaling 57 yards as the Chiefs led 14-3 with 3:17 left in the first quarter.
Canarsie busted the game open on their first possession of the second quarter when Wilson, who appeared to be wrapped up at the Martin 25-yard line, broke free as the Falcons stopped tackling, for a 74-yard touchdown run. Wilson ran in the two-point conversion to put the Chiefs ahead, 22-3 with eight minutes left in the first half.
“We stopped playing,” Greene said. “We didn’t tackle the man and stay on the man. We hit the guy but then we just laid there.”
Despite what seemed to be an insurmountable lead, Canarsie head coach Mike Camardese knew that the game was not yet wrapped up, especially with the way Martin can score points in a hurry.
“They’re explosive,” Camardese said. “[Smith] is excellent, probably the best receiver in the city. Our game plan was to wear them down in the second half. We wanted to eat the clock and score slow because they have such big play capability.”
To execute their strategy Camardese made sure the ball went into Wilson's hands. After carrying the ball nine times for 27 yards in the first half, Wilson gained 95 second half yards, including 37 on the first five plays of the third quarter to set up Harvey's one-yard keeper to put Canarsie ahead, 28-3 with 7:30 left in the third.
Boyce connected with Smith, who made an acrobatic catch in traffic for a 38-yard touchdown pass to cut Martin's deficit to 28-9 a little more than a minute later. Martin had a chance to make the game even closer when senior running back Trevor Shamble (122 yards on 13 carries) exploded down the sideline for what appeared to be an 80-yard touchdown run.
But the officials ruled Shamble stepped out of bounds at the Canarsie 34 and the Falcons couldn’t find the end zone again.
Sheepshead Bay 34, Campus Magnet 0. Glenroy Watkins set the pace for top-seeded Sheepshead Bay Saturday, returning the opening kickoff 88 yards for the first of three touchdowns in a 34-0 quarterfinal romp over No. 12 Campus Magnet. Watkins followed with touchdown runs of 3 and 14 yards and Adeboyego Akingba returned a punt for an 80-yard touchdown to give the Sharks (9-0) a 28-0 halftime lead.
Campus Magnet (6-4) was held to 60 yards in the first half on 28 plays.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.