| by Kevin Brown |
As of press time, The Headless Horsemen of Sleepy Hollow find themselves at 1-2 suffering from key injuries that have altered their plans on both sides of the football.
After a summer of hard work that included camps, scrimmages and the dreaded two-a-days, the hardworking staff and team got some bad news just before the first game against Walter Panas High School. Sophomore Jonathan Gomez, who was expected to compete for the rushing title in Section 1A after a stellar freshman campaign, is potentially out for the season with an injury. Additionally, Senior Steven Grady, who was penciled in as a key offensive lineman and linebacker, was unable to suit up in game one. But football has always worked under the precept of “next man up” and the team pressed forward.
In their first game on a brutally hot evening at Walter Panas High School, that man up was Michael Lopez, the junior linebacker and running back. It was a sluggish game filled with cramping, but Lopez managed to ring up 149 all-purpose yards, including 120 on the ground. Paul Bloshuk, Jr. made his first start and did a solid job of protecting the football, firing 7-16 for 75 yards as the Horsemen managed to walk away with a 19-6 victory.
The defense hung tough all night with Lopez racking up seven tackles. Luis Espinal, Kevin Borden and Jordan Dorn added four tackles each, along with a key QB sack for Dorn.
Next came Rye. Rye is a perennial powerhouse in Section 1A and playing them under the lights in Rye is always a challenge. For the young Horsemen squad, it was a night to forget as they were drubbed 48-20. The game started with Rye taking it the length of the field and was followed by a blocked Sleepy Hollow punt and things only got worse from there. Coach Dino Garr from Rye loves to blitz and the inexperienced line just collapsed repeatedly with Bloshuk under siege.
Garr is also known for his killer instinct. He called a timeout with 30 seconds left in the half and a 28-0 lead so he could throw a bomb to extend the halftime lead to 35-0. It was a pass that won’t soon be forgotten at Sleepy Hollow.
Game 3 was marred by more unfortunate news. Bloshuk, Jr., who had spent the entire offseason training as a QB and brought speed and a rifle arm to the gridiron, was sick with mono and would be out for at least the next three games. “Next man up” was Michael Morales, who has been a key receiver and defender but would now take over QB duties.
After only a few days of practice, Morales stepped into the hot seat on the brand new turf field that sported the fabulous Headless Horseman logo in the center. Sleepy Hollow hung tough with Brewster through the first half and Morales managed the game nicely. But things soured in the second half and Brewster left with a 27-14 victory.
Sleepy Hollow Football has a tradition that includes the Football Boosters having a dinner the night before every game during the season. It is an opportunity for the team to grow more closely knit and for Head Coach Steve Borys to deliver an inspirational speech. After the team had lost their starting RB and QB, one could only wonder what positive message he could deliver.
“Throughout your lives, things are not going to go as planned. There are two ways to respond. You can crawl into your bed and pull the covers over your head…..or you can stand and fight,” Borys said.
Based on speeches by players Michael Lopez and Derek Estrella, they were ready to go out and fight on behalf of Sleepy Hollow tradition. And that they did on a hot day versus Brewster. The result did not come out the way they hoped for, but with a full week of practice for Morales and a team determined to give it their all, the Horsemen plan on playing themselves and their supporters proud.Read or leave a comment on this story...