Saturday, October 25, 2014
DelBENEFACTOR Helps Propel Huskers In Thriller
While senior quarterback Ryan Baker's pass floated slightly outside, the 6-foot-3 tight end kept his eyes pasted on the rock.
During the most dramatic moment of No.1 Yorktown's pulsating 28-21 Section 1/Class A quarterfinal victory over No.4 Nyack, Delbene snatched the ball with the sheer strength of his fingertips.
Then he bobbled it.
Then he recovered it, hauling it in and securing it for a first down on Yorktown's final drive.
With that, Nicky Santavicca (107 yards, 22 carries, 2 TD) zipped through traffic and was brought down at the 1.
On the ensuing handoff, Timmy Forbes capped the theatrics with a game-sealing TD plunge with 29 seconds in regulation, snapping a 21-all deadlock.
The touchdown sent a charged-up, strongly partisan home crowd into a frenzy.
With precious time elapsing, Nyack fed feature back Adonis Alcime on a last-gasp drive.
Alcime, who was both electrifying and exceptional, bolted down the right sideline before hammering into defensive back Scott Weaver.
Like that, the Huskers avoided an opening round collapse. The undefeated Huskers (8-0), will play the Sleepy Hollow/John Jay-Cross River winner in the semifinal. The Huskers' depth wore out the Indians in last week's 27-14 season finale at Cross River. After nearly spitting out a double-digit first half lead, Yorktown fended off a furious Sleepy Hollow rally in last year's bowl game.
"Plays like that, you just have to zone everything out--all the screaming, all the fans," Delbene, who reeled in six passes for 74 yards, explained.
"You've just got to look at the ball. Look right at it. Put your hands on it, and hope for the best."
Delbene entered the 2014 campaign as Baker's most reliable target.
With Yorktown shifting its identity, adopting a steady aerial presence, the senior captain's role has grown each week.
"He's a great receiver, has great hands, I knew he'd come up clutch," said Yorktown's senior fullback Timmy Forbes, peppering his classmate with due respect.
"When I saw the ball come towards his hands I knew he was going to catch it. That's how much faith I have in him."
How much faith does Yorktown have in each other?
The Huskers have proven again and again the "family" theme, ingrained in them with an iron fist, is no cliché or routine lip service.
They entered the matchup as the Hobbled Huskers, with senior running back and two-way starter Mike Dedvukaj and sophomore wide receiver Max Costello wrecked by nagging injuries.
A number of players acclimatized to new roles and responsibilities on the fly.
"Critical guys went down with injuries. People that weren't sure if they were critical or not stepped up, including sophomores," Yorktown head coach Mike Rescigno said.
"Justin Cavallo stepped in for Mike Dedvukaj tonight and played like he was a seasoned senior. This is a special team. Before I say another word, that Nyack team is a special team. (Nyack) is well-coached, all class. I haven't seen kids like that play that hard and that talented in a long time."
Nyack applied as quick and aggressive pressure as the Huskers have seen this season.
They knotted matters at 14-14 when junior Rafael Cruz broke a 60-yard touchdown jaunt with 4:37 remaining in the second quarter. It was his second of the game, as Cruz had ripped off a 53-yard, game-tying TD run in the first quarter.
The 1-2 punch of Cruz and Alcime stabilized the ground game, amassing 213 combined yards.
Cruz dazzled with 123 yards on a meager seven touches. Alcime's extraterrestrial athleticism surfaced in the second half, when he nearly cleared a defensive back as if were competing in a 110 high hurdles event.
Baker hit 6-foot-4 senior James Fennessey in the back of the end zone with 19 seconds remaining in the first half.
The Huskers' extra point attempt split the uprights, as they seized a 21-14 lead and a roll of momentum heading into the locker room.
Don't let that 5-foot-8, 148-pound frame fool you.
Baker entered the season with new range and a polished arm. After airing it at an 11-for-13 clip at John Jay last week, the dual-sport senior flung it for 113 yards on Friday.
Baker, who committed to Division-I UMBC for lacrosse last year, also scampered for a 17-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
"He's growing every single day," said Forbes of Baker.
"Initially, he was a running quarterback. Now he's a double threat. He can pass, he can run--it's scary for other defenses, I could tell you that."
Yet it was defense and strength in numbers that kept Nyack's explosive offense at bay in the fourth quarter.
Forbes had a man-sized tackle on Alcime and Mike Resko emerged with a major sack (for a loss) on Nyack's shifty double-duty quarterback James Norfleet.
The sophomore flavor was spread all across the field. Backup QB Jose Boyer, who has assumed a utility role, had an immense fumble recovery. Dom Cioffi batted away a dangerous pass from Norfleet.
"We know exactly what it is, 10th graders, ninth graders, 11th graders, they all go to war for each other," Rescigno said. "That's all you can say. I think everyone of the kids that made big plays today, and I can go down a list of them, they all want to make that big play."
In Delbene, his coach's words resonated.
"Everyone's in it to win it," Delbene said. "If we're not all in it together, I don't think we'd be here right now. During practice, everyone is working as hard as they can. Whether it's on the first team or scout team, everyone's working to make everyone better."