Brian Bellino had no words to describe this performance.
The head coach of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt high school football team had just watched his team lose, 23-8, to Goshen High School on its home field Saturday, Oct. 12. The Presidents committed five turnovers in the loss and did not get on the scoreboard until the fourth quarter.
“I really didn’t have a lot to say [afterwards],” Bellino told The Observer. “I let a lot of the assistant coaches talk to [the team]. I’m just very disappointed in our effort.”
The loss dropped FDR to 3-3 overall, and 2-3 in Class A. It was the second straight loss for the team, following their 40-20 defeat to Cornwall last week.
The Presidents found themselves in a hole from the beginning of the game. Goshen scored on its opening drive, a 32-yard field goal from Debo Fortuna to take a 3-0 lead.
FDR would take over for its possession, but before the offense could call off a play, Bellino had to call a timeout because of miscommunication between the players and coaches. The timeout would serve as a sign for the President’s offensive struggles all afternoon, much to the surprise of their coach.
“The funny thing was, it was a good week of practice,” Bellino said. “There were just too many mistakes today. Everything that could have happened did.”
The Presidents went three-and-out on their first drive, and the visiting Gladiators extended their lead to 10-0, courtesy of a two-yard touchdown run by Deondrade Wells.
FDR quarterback Matt DuPilka struggled to get the offense moving, and the Presidents were forced to punt again on their second possession. The senior captain finished just 9-23 with 127 yards and one touchdown pass. He threw two interceptions and fumbled twice.
It was a different story for the visiting signal caller. Griffin DeClerck threw for 166 yards and two touchdowns, including a 20-yard strike to Ryan McGrath to put Goshen up 17-0 in the second quarter. McGrath made his impact on defense as well, intercepting DuPilka in the end zone to halt an FDR scoring drive and end the first half.
The Presidents got the ball to start the second half, but once again went three and out. They forced a fumble on the ensuing Goshen possession, but running back Justin Hoskins gave the ball right back to the Gladiators with a fumble of his own.
Hoskins got the start for the first time this season because of the absence of star running back Avery Strother, who suffered a knee injury in the Cornwall game.
Bellino would not use Strother’s injury, or any other FDR injuries, as an excuse for his team’s play.
“I know we are down a couple of guys, but I’ve never been around an effort like [today],” Bellino said. “From the start of the game, our effort just wasn’t there.”
Both teams were held scoreless in the third quarter, but Goshen found the end zone with 7:49 remaining, after DeClerck found Lucas Graves from 10 yards out to give the Gladiators a 23-0 lead.
FDR finally got on the scoreboard with just 1:35 to play in the game, when Michael Bryan caught a DuPilka pass for an eight-yard touchdown. The Presidents connected on the two-point conversion, but the ensuing onside kick was recovered by Goshen, sealing the victory for the visitors.
The Presidents will host undefeated Malboro on Friday night. The Dukes are 6-0 and rank second in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class B rankings.