With its average offensive lineman standing 6-foot and with the smallest tipping the scales at 235 pounds, Mepham packs plenty of beef up front and it showed in last Saturday’s Nassau Conference II football opener before a jam-packed crowd at Carey.
With seniors Colin and Nicholas Liese, Ryan Hegi, Matthew Waters and Thomas Ciorra controlling the line of scrimmage, senior Kenny Franquiz rumbled for 186 yards and a touchdown to lead the Pirates to a convincing 33-7 road victory. The Seahawks, who played in the county championship game last season, foiled the shutout with 6:03 remaining.
“Nobody outside of our locker room thought we were going to win,” said Franquiz, who added 38 receiving yards. “Our offensive line is crazy,” he added. “They’re all big and strong. They made it easy for me today.”
The 270-pound Colin Liese centers the group with Nicholas Liese (280) and Hegi (250) at guard, and Waters (260) and Ciorra at tackle. They didn’t allow a sack. “We started to realize what we had up front a few weeks into camp and we wanted to establish our muscle,” Mepham head coach Anthony Cracco said. “Carey’s got talent at the skill positions and I thought we did a great job on both sides of the ball.”
The Seahawks self-destructed at times, committing four 15-yard penalties on defense and a mistake on special teams that led to the game’s first touchdown. “We didn’t play well and they did,” Carey head coach Mike Stanley said. “It just wasn’t our day.”
Both teams rotated quarterbacks. Mepham junior William Kender hooked up with senior Jon Michael Dijkstra on a beautiful 28-yard scoring strike just inside the pylon with 5:17 remaining in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead following junior Joseph Marcello’s PAT. The touchdown was set up by a pair of Carey miscues. Planning to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Pirates 45, a false start forced the hosts to punt. Then a poor snap put Mepham’s offense in business just outside the red zone.
The Seahawks punted again when their next possession stalled just shy of midfield, but they pinned the Pirates deep when senior Nick Bell’s 50-yard blast was muffed. Mepham’s offense, however, responded with an impressive 97-yard drive, aided by facemask and roughing-the-passer penalties.
Senior linebacker/tight end Matt Hegi, who was injured late in a scrimmage a week earlier and didn’t practice leading up to the opener, accounted for the final 46 yards of the drive on three direct snaps, including a 22-yard touchdown run up the middle for a 13-0 lead.
An interception by Carey junior Joe Todaro inside the 10 kept the Pirates from building their lead before halftime, but Franquiz found paydirt with a 17-yard run early in the third quarter to make it 19-0.
Kender and senior tailback CJ Badenhop added fourth quarter touchdowns for Mepham, which visits New Hyde Park this Saturday at 2 p.m. The Seahawks, who got a 52-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Dean Metzger to senior Frank Scarantino, hit the road to take on Herricks.