After winning the first two games of the season, Stuyvesant’s varsity football team, the Peglegs, had, as of Thursday, October 9, lost their last three. The Peglegs lost to Springfield Gardens by a score of 26-18 on Friday, October 3, at Pier 40. Although they were down 20-6 by the end of the first half, they bounced back to be within two points in the fourth quarter. Nonetheless, they could not complete the comeback. Despite the loss, senior, running back and co-captain Dionicio Herrera, back after recovering from knee surgery more quickly than expected, finished the day with 111 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown. Senior, quarterback and co-captain Nick Goldin also performed well, finishing with two touchdowns (one receiving, one rushing), eight tackles and one interception while on defense.
Goldin attributes these losses to their own mistakes. “On defense we have not tackled well and we’ve been giving up big plays,” he said. “On the offensive side of the ball, it’s been the opposite. We’re not getting the big plays and we’re having to score by driving down the field.”
After the Springfield Gardens loss, the Peglegs knew that they had to win all of their remaining four games to make the playoffs. “To finish the season strong, it will take strong leadership by the seniors,” head coach Mark Strasser said. “Teams are tested in this type of situation by how the leaders react. The only thing we have to work on is being consistent. We will play great football for 80 percent of the time, and than we lose focus and make a mistake. We have to stay focused and play great 100 percent of the time.”
Going into their homecoming game against third place Trojans of George Washington High School on Friday, October 10, at Pier 40, the Peglegs knew they had to win in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. Some players were hoping that support from the crowd here would give them the energy that helped them win at homecoming last year. “We always get a big boost playing in front of a lot of great fans during homecoming,” Goldin said.
If eighth-place Stuyvesant could beat third-place George Washington, the team would be much more confident going into the final three games. “If we can taste what victory is like again, I’m sure the team will be hungry for more,” Herrera said.
As Strasser noted, many seniors would be motivated by the emotional significance of the homecoming game. “This will be the seniors’ last game at Pier 40, and the added excitement of homecoming would get anyone up for this game,” he said. “It will be a special night for everyone that attends.”
The Peglegs got off to a slow start under the Friday night lights, as George Washington got off to a 6-0 first quarter lead off an early rushing touchdown. Early in the second quarter, however, senior receiver Nicholas Wheatley Schall scored the first of his three touchdowns in the game, which accounted for 18 of the team’s 20 points, on a pass from Goldin to even the score at 6-6. Then, about midway through the second quarter, an interception by senior Simon Greenberg set the stage for another Goldin-to-Wheatley Schall touchdown pass, this time followed by a converted field goal by junior kicker Michael Affuso.
When halftime was called, the Peglegs were leading by a score of 13-6. The cheerleaders did 13 push-ups to match the number of points the Peglegs had, senior Charles Kuang, dressed as the mascot Pegleg Pete, entertained the crowd, and everyone in the Stuyvesant section of the bleachers seemed to be in good humor.
At the beginnings of the third and fourth quarters, George Washington scored touchdowns, while Stuyvesant’s offense was silent, making the score 22-13 in the Trojans’ favor. But with three minutes left in the fourth quarter, junior quarterback Eric Lind fired a first down pass to Goldin, opening the door for Wheatley Schall’s third touchdown reception of the night, this time coming off a pass from Lind. “Eric played well at quarterback and made some good plays,” Wheatley Schall said. “That’s what you’ve got to do.”
Affuso then converted on the field goal, bringing Stuyvesant to within two points. After failing to recover an on-side-kick, however, the Peglegs failed to gain possession of the ball to try to make one last push. They lost, 22-20, and their hopes of making the postseason dissolved.
Despite being eliminated from the playoffs, the Peglegs plan to take their remaining three games seriously. “The season still means a lot to all of us,” Wheatley Schall said. “We want to win the other three games and go out with a winning record like last year.”