By Matt Nestor
Last season, the Boylan Titans finished their NIC-10 championship by bashing the Harlem Huskies in the mud.
On a beautiful August night to start their new season, the Titans found themselves down 10-7 with only 1:47 until halftime after Harlem quarterback Kennan Kellett found Casey Beck in the end zone for a touchdown.
“I think when they scored, we didn’t let our heads get down,” Boylan’s senior running back Paul Barmore said. “We just dug it out. We grinded it out. We came out as a team and did what we had to do.”
Quarterback Michael Morman led a nine-play, 65-yard drive, in which he accounted for all but 20 of the yards, and capped it with a 27-yard field goal to tie the game going into the half.
Boylan came out in the second half and outscored the Huskies 12-0 behind Barmore and a big offensive line to grind out a 22-10 victory. Barmore had more than 100 of his 154 yards in the second half.
“Paul played outstanding,” Morman said. “He runs the ball, and he does everything out there.”
Boylan coach Dan Appino said endurance is one of the Titans’ best qualities, and that it carried the offense in the second half.
“We definitely feel like our conditioning is a strength for us, even though we may not have their athleticism,” he said. “I think as the game went on, we just kept plugging away. Our guys up front started feeling like we could move people and get first downs.”
Morman did his best to keep the Titans close in the first half. The senior, who was 11-17 passing for 63 yards, eluded the Huskies’ pass rush all night, narrowly escaping several sacks early in the game.
He was able to run for 54 of his 79 yards in the first half, moving well under heavy pressure.
“We talked about it all week long that these kids were just going to be fierce in the way they came out,” Appino said. “He did a terrific job of allowing the offensive line to grow.”
Kellett did his best to keep the Huskies close. The senior ran for 41 yards in addition to throwing for 173 yards. But three interceptions and a fumble ultimately spelled doom for the Huskies.
The big key for the Titans was their defense. Boylan did a great job of making Harlem one dimensional, holding them to 57 yards rushing, compared to 284 for Boylan. They also did a good job containing Harlem’s speed.
“They have weapons, and we were going to take shots,” Appino said. “We just had to keep getting back up and being relentless, and the kids did a great job. I don’t know if (passing) was their scheme coming in. They got so many different things they can do. They’re scary, either way.”
While last season’s title came down to these two teams, the Titans know the season isn’t over. Morman said they will not be looking past any opponents this season.
“It’s game one,” Morman said. “It’s a long season. We just got to get ready for next week.”
Boylan will look to stay hot against the Guilford Vikings next week. Harlem hopes to rebound at home against Belvidere North.
In other conference action:
• The Guilford Vikings won their first game of the season, defeating the East E-Rabs 28-6. The game was close at the half, when Guilford led 7-0, but an East fumble was returned 25 yards by the Vikings for a touchdown to provide separation.
• After a scoreless first quarter against Belvidere North, Hononegah ripped off 40 unanswered points to win 40-0 in a matchup of two playoff teams from last year.
• Jefferson gave a valiant effort on the road against the Freeport Pretzels. But a late J-Hawks comeback attempt came up just short as Freeport hung on to win 23-18.
• Auburn could not overcome an early onslaught from the Belvidere Bucs, and the Bucs rolled to a 42-22 victory. Cody Randall and Kyle Harris helped the Bucs rack up almost 300 rushing yards in the game.
From the September 2-8, 2009 issue