High School Sports at Its Best

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Whitman's Offensive guards and center left to right: Rick Rizzo #63, Kieran Elmore #77, and Feroz Zedran #58 stepped up with the rest of the 'O-Line to protect QB Mitchell Bermudez and open holes for running back Joel Aleman.
Whitman's Offensive guards and center left to right: Rick Rizzo #63, Kieran Elmore #77, and Feroz Zedran #58 stepped up with the rest of the 'O-Line to protect QB Mitchell Bermudez and open holes for running back Joel Aleman.
Quarterback Mitchell Bermudez scoring one of his 3 touchdowns.
Quarterback Mitchell Bermudez scoring one of his 3 touchdowns.
Sophomore Jaron Batts finds some daylight in several exceptional runs on the day.
Sophomore Jaron Batts finds some daylight in several exceptional runs on the day.
Berthin Lindor sprints into the end zone, only to have the touchdown called back with a holding penalty.
Berthin Lindor sprints into the end zone, only to have the touchdown called back with a holding penalty.
High school sports in its purest form can be so satisfying to watch. The game is unadulterated by performance-enhancing drugs and oversized contracts. It is pure and simple competition at its finest. This past Saturday Walt Whitman had several teams in competition, and while each went home winners, it's the way each team won that showcases why they deserve their victories. 

In Whitman’s 3-0 field hockey win against Half Hollow Hill early Saturday morning, teamwork prevailed with Brooke Bifolco, Emma Manson, and  Lauren Kobel all scoring goals and Christina McFelia providing an important assist. Their unselfish play has earned them a 4-2 record in a tough Division 1 Conference.

And then it came time for football as the Wildcats faced off against the undefeated Smithtown East Bulls. The Wildcats got off to a slow start as Smithtown scored on their first play when their quarterback first appeared to be thrown for a 5-yard loss, only to stay on his feet and complete a pass to his receiver, who broke several tackles to take it in for the score. Smithtown kept the Whitman defense off their game with a fast-paced first quarter, scoring again from the 50-yard line with a long run. The extra point was no good, and the Wildcats shook off the slow start and started to find Smithtown’s weaknesses. They fought hard for every yard of offense, and the defense said enough is enough. Whitman’s quarterback, Mitchel Bermudez, scored twice in the second quarter, and the defense kept their opponents scoreless. 

Pride and determination turned the tide, and the audience could feel the whole flow of energy go from Smithtown to Whitman by the end of the first half. It was 14-13 score, with Whitman up by 1 point at the beginning of the second half. Whitman’s defense continued their tough and determined play, keeping Smithtown scoreless for a second straight quarter. Meanwhile, Whitman's offensive line opened holes for Bermudez to find running room, enabling him to score his third touchdown of the day. 

Smithtown came out strong for the fourth quarter, scoring three times, but the Wildcat defense kept the touchdowns to a minimum as they turned back the 2-point conversion twice. Whitman running back Joel Aleman put on a powerful display of determination as he fought for short yardage and finally broke loose for a big 53-yard touchdown.  

With the game ticking down, Smithtown was on top 32-28, Whitman needed a touchdown for a win, and there was only 1:47 left in the game. Strong play from the offensive line allowed Bermudez the time he needed to complete two passes for 54 yards, and the ball was now on the 1-yard line. Aleman and his Wildcat teammates fought too hard to allow this one to end in a loss, and the offensive line opened his way to a touchdown. Bermudez put a cap on his best performance of the season with an extra-point kick, resulting in a score of Whitman 35, Smithtown East 32.

A little more than 12 miles away, 200 of the best cross-country runners gathered for the annual Suffolk Coaches Invitational at Sunken Meadow State Park. In this varsity 5K race consisting of 26 teams from the metro area, Whitman’s top three runners, James Vallar, Zach Cammer, and Mike Damato, were among the top 5 runners in the race. At the 1.5 mark and leading the race, James Vallar turned his ankle severely, collapsed, and fell out of the race. Each Whitman runner passed him, rather than giving up, even though they all knew it was going to be tough to win without James. They dug deep and decided to win it for the team, to win it for Whitman. “It was one of the proudest days of my coaching career” said Coach Rob Conroy of his nationally ranked team.

High school sports. It wouldn't be high school without them.