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Long Beach Football Playoff Loss a Post-Sandy Victory

Marines fall to Carey, 35-13, after many players were displaced by hurricane.

The line of scrimmage at the Long Beach v. Carey playoff game in Franklin Square on Saturday.
The line of scrimmage at the Long Beach v. Carey playoff game in Franklin Square on Saturday.

Story and Photos by George Wallace

In football, as in life, there are victories and there are victories. Some come with a big “V” attached to them; others are victories of the heart.

The Long Beach High School football team earned a victory of the second sort Saturday, facing and defeating an opponent far more formidable than any group of young men are likely to encounter across the line of scrimmage.

The Marines — many of who were displaced with their families and neighbors across the tristate area after Hurricane Sandy — lost a playoff game Saturday at Carey, 35-13, falling behind early to a Seahawks team that was quick to take advantage of their poorly snapped balls, missed tackles, and slips and slides in open turf.

But supported by their coaches, school, community and some key contributors, the Long Beach squad pulled themselves together, suited themselves up, and hit the muddy field in Franklin Square.

“I was sick to my stomach, not even about football, but how the kids and their families were effected personally,” said head coach Scott Martin. “To be honest, I was doubtful we could even get here. But when it came down to it, the kids wanted to play.”

A lot of people got involved to get that done. Former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason, who hosts a morning radio show on WFAN, was able to come up with the funds to replace the team’s uniforms that were lost in the storm, and Hofstra provided practice fields and logistical support.

There were other signs of support at Carey High School on Saturday. Blue ribbons that Carey cheerleaders created were distributed to show support for those impacted by the storm in Long Beach. There were also ‘Unity’ t-shirts for sale, and all proceeds of the 50-50 raffle and other sales at the playoff game were earmarked for Long Beach.

Between the goalposts, of course, it was all cleats and shoulder pads. Carey quarterback Ray Catapano had a razor sharp game, and Long Beach dug themselves a big hole in the first half, unable to get their game together effectively on either side of the football until late in the fourth quarter.

When they did score, though, it was in dramatic fashion. The first was James Forkin rushing five yards for a touchdown that was set up by an 80-yard bomb from quarterback Adam Salvadori to wide receiver Christopher Parler. And in a last-minute driver, running back Billy Kane broke through for 17-yard draw, followed by a 13-yard race into the end zone on the last play of the game.

But as the Marines left the field on the wrong end of a 35-13 score Saturday, the cheers from Long Beach fans in the stands indicated that they had witnessed a victory far more impressive than any scoreboard could reflect.

“Today was a special moment,” Martin said after the game. “I’m proud of the kids for what they’ve overcome. They overcame adversity. That experience will make them better people, and has to be good for the health of the Long Beach community.”

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