Rick Carpiniello’s story on how Suffern persevered at Mount Vernon:
MOUNT VERNON — The football season had barely begun, and Suffern High already had taken a punch to the stomach.
Mount Vernon’s Kammal Henry, on the Knights’ second offensive play, weaved and bobbed and dashed 80 yards for a touchdown.
And though the Mounties quickly answered that with a Marcus Charles touchdown run set up by Gabe Cohen’s interception, their PAT kick was blocked — obviously they felt they’d be able to move the ball and score more points.
But that didn’t materialize in a game that was going nowhere until Suffern called a timeout, facing a third-and-long on the final play of the third quarter. Justin Rosenblum, the senior quarterback who had been picked off three times, hooked up with DJ Albarelli on a 42-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline, then hit Liam Griffin for a two-point conversion and a 14-8 lead that would hold up.
Mount Vernon, thanks to a shanked punt, got the ball to the Suffern 9 in the final two minutes, but Suffern made two big defensive plays, including Griffin’s sack of Henry, and Michael Korongy breakup of Henry’s fourth-down pass to seal the win.
“The term we use is ‘Hold the rope,’ ” Suffern coach Bill Delaney said. There’s a guy hanging over a cliff at 20,000 feet, so your hands start bleeding, blistering … these guys became one and held the rope for each other, for all 34 of them.”
“We stuck it out,” Charles said. “Like coach says, ‘Hold the rope.’ When your teammate is hanging over a cliff, 20,000 feet, you’ve got to hold the rope and help him up.”
They held up Rosenblum, whom Delaney calls “Doug Flutie without the arm” because of his size and toughness. And Rosenblum repaid his teammates.
“Nothing was really happening the whole game,” he said. “I wasn’t playing that well. I was making some mistakes, but the D just kept us in it, and then when it mattered we stayed together.”
For Mount Vernon, which had about 50 kids in uniform during a rebuilding season under new coach (and assistant principal) Severin Cornelius, it was a first step after a 1-8 season in 2012. Henry, in fact, had never played quarterback until an injury to the Knights’ starter 10 days earlier.
“He did a good job,” Cornelius said. “He put together an offense. There’s just some things he’s got to get better at. He was a team player. He went from starting wide receiver to starting quarterback. That’s a tough kid.
“We’ve got a lot of young kids on our team, a lot of first-time players. The whole offensive line is first-time players, the whole defensive line is first-time players. We’ve got a lot of people who have never played football before, at any level.”
Here are more thoughts from the coaches and players:
Bill Delaney, Suffern coach:
— “That shows resiliency. We did triple sessions this year, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. for two weeks, taking one day off each week. We said the difference is going to be in the third and fourth quarter. Guys rise in the third quarter; champions get it done in the fourth quarter. It separates, the term we use, not the mice from the men but the mice from the Mounties. We played like Mounties today.”
Justin Roseblum, Suffern QB:
— “We’ve got a new attitude this year, and to win Game 1, it shows we’re serious about playing this year and we’re a different team.”
— On his TD pass: “I had thrown three picks already, but you’ve got to have confidence. It feels great. You kind of exhale there a little bit because all game long I was playing a little tense. You make one play, it makes up for it all.”
Severin Cornelius, Mount Vernon coach:
— “We started in March preaching ‘Academics, academics’ and that’s what we pushed to get us to this point. Now we’ve got to preach football.”
— “Moving forward, we take all the positives of this. We’ve got to get better each week.”