JFK/Bellmore rains on Herricks homecoming

Ben Pleat

The friendly lights of Tully Field illuminated this year’s Herricks High School homecoming football game at Tully Park last Friday night, but the Kennedy/Bellmore Cougars lit up the Herricks Highlanders defense, outscoring them 28-7.

Highlanders coach Michael Yoo said he was still proud of his players and would be going over the film to look at what they could improve.

“It was a great atmosphere today, although things didn’t go our way,” Yoo said. “Despite the end score, the team really thought they could win today. We’re going to continue watching film and working on defending, scoring, and doing our best.”

He said the players “played their hearts out,” and that he was very proud of them.

Before the game started Herricks High School Assistant Principal Brian Hodge said crowds at homecoming games have “really grown” throughout the years, and are what make the day a tradition.

“The night game itself is always a great opportunity for the football team as it builds up every year,” said Hodge. “This is a day when the entire community can forget about all budgetary problems and focus on what is truly great about Herricks, which is unity.”

An estimated 1,000 people attended the game, and the stands were filled with a modicum of blue and silver, shirts, hats, and sweats. Also in attendance were families, teachers, students, and local residents.

The crowd began with booming energy at the inception of the first quarter, but the Cougars came out strong with an 88-yard touchdown run for the first points of the game.

The Herricks football team answered back with two strong runs. An 18-yard handoff run by Highlander Michael Pitre put the offense in a position to score.

But Belmore didn’t allow for Herricks to convert, with an interception at the 30-yard line.

The quarter ended with the Cougars up 7-0.

Herricks Highlander quarterback Tommy Graef began the second quarter with a 22-yard pass to Austin Stoner for a first down. Barely shy of scoring, the Herricks offense turned the possession over the Cougars.

Kennedy/Bellmore scored two more touchdowns, one of which involved a 60-yard run.

Going into halftime the score was 21-0, and the Highlanders hit the locker room to discuss how to turn the game around after missing many great opportunities.

During halftime Andrew Frisone, the Herricks High School assistant principal, introduced the high school homecoming king and queen court. He called the entire process a “stellar year,” as a multitude of ties made the final decisions extremely difficult.

After brief introductions of each candidate, the senior class advisors announced the winners. Jenna Madonna was crowned queen and Moe Thet San was crowned king.

Kennedy/Bellmore began the third quarter with an onside kicks, which the team retrieved at the Herricks 40-yard line.

Patrick Kutil of the Cougars caught a 20-yard pass to increase the lead to 28-0 after the extra point kick. Following several changes of possession,Herricks linebacker Eddie Ham sacked the Cougar quarterback to ignite the stands with cheers.

Crossing over to the third quarter, the Highlanders retained momentum and progressed to the 30-yard line. While under pressure from the defense, Herricks quarterback Tommy Graef threw a clean touchdown pass to Ryan Gaitan. The crowd roared as the lead began to close to 28-7, giving Herricks a renewed hope of winning.

But the Cougars eventually stood strong the game in a 28-7 victory.

The fans still cheered the home team on as Joe Marshiano, a Herricks resident for over 15 years, said that the school spirit is great for everyone.

Jim Petricca, Herricks athletics director said the event helps bring the community together.

“It really means a lot to my kids in elementary school and middle school to see the community come together,” Petricca said. “The program is progressing and the coaches and student-athletes have done a lot of work during the off season. The barbeque and homecoming were both home-runs. The entire student body came together for the festivities and football game.”

As a whole, the Herricks High School homecoming football game was a huge success. An estimated 1,000 people attended the game, which serves as a testament to its growing popularity and strength in bringing the Herricks community together.

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Ben Pleat

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