For the Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School football team, Friday night’s game against Saugerties served as its home opener, homecoming game, and the opening of the school’s brand-new athletic facility.
The Presidents wanted to give their fans and community something to remember, and they certainly delivered.
Behind the strength of running back Avery Strother and a dominating defensive effort, FDR throttled the visiting Sawyers, 50-7, on a crisp fall night in Hyde Park. The Presidents improved to 3-1 on the season with the victory.
“It’s nice to get a win, but the school did a great job with the production and a great job in the planning [of the opening ceremonies],” FDR head coach Brian Bellino told The Observer. “It was just a great night for the entire Hyde Park community.”
Following a pregame ceremony that included a ribbon-cutting for the new stadium and a tribute to the program’s former head coaches and first team member John Golden, FDR lined up to face its division opponent Saugerties for the first time since moving to Class A this season.
The Presidents lost the opening coin toss to the Sawyers, who ended up punting the ball on their first series of the game. Given the opportunity early, the FDR offense controlled the clock for most of the first quarter, ending its first drive with a four-yard touchdown run by Strother to get on the scoreboard first.
In the second quarter, Strother once again found his way into the end zone, this time from 36 yards out on FDR’s first play of the quarter. The junior scored his third touchdown of the game just over five minutes later, on an eight-yard run that put his team up 21-0 with 6:08 left to play in the half.
Bellino acknowledged that both Strother and the offensive line did a great job in executing the game plan.
“He [Strother] is just a great football player and a phenomenal runner,” Bellino said. “If we can get guys on people [to block], then he can be a special player. Our offensive line did a great job with that tonight.”
A Saugerties fumble in the end zone, recovered by FDR’s Nicolas DiCarlo, and then a 42-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Matt DuPilka to wide receiver Michael Bryan gave the Presidents a commanding 35-0 lead at halftime.
In the second half, DuPilka had a two-yard touchdown run, and the ensuing two-point conversion put the hosts up 43-0 at the 7:28 mark of the third quarter.
Following that possession, the FDR defense forced Saugerties to punt the ball for the ninth time in nine Sawyers possessions. Only in the fourth quarter, when Saugerties quarterback Darius Edwards found the end zone from three yards out, did the Sawyers find themselves on the scoreboard.
FDR scored its final touchdown of the game late in the final quarter, when senior running back Rob Rasulo punched one in from eight yards out.
Although the big win was great for FDR, Bellino acknowledged that there are still plenty of things for his team to work on.
“We still make a lot of mistakes every week. That is what makes this such a great game,” Bellino said. “There are always things we can improve on, and we will.”
The Presidents return to action Oct. 6, when they travel to Cornwall Central High School to take on the Dragons (3-1). Kickoff is set for 7pm.