The Spackenkill High School football team wrapped up its regular season with a 27-14 home win over visiting Red Hook on Saturday, but it was clearly just a warm-up for the main event — its Section 9 semifinal playoff game against New Paltz next Saturday in Kingston.
“It’s a nice win going into the playoffs,” Spackenkill senior quarterback Evan Loughran said. “We’re building some momentum going in so we’re confident now.”
The Spartans (6-2) burst out to a 21-0 lead in the third quarter against Red Hook (3-5), but saw their lead cut to seven late after resting some starters. The offensive starters were then re-inserted and put the game out of reach.
“We’re in the playoffs, so no matter what we did we knew we’re playing New Paltz next week,” Spackenkill coach Clinton DeSouza said. “So we wanted to get ahead and get other guys time and they made a comeback. Red Hook’s a good team and we had to put the first team back in to ice it away.”
Loughran (6 for 13, 136 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) found senior Nicholas Celestino for a 22-yard touchdown reception with 8:44 left in the first quarter to give the Spartans an 8-0 lead after Joshua Riley slammed through the line for the 2-point conversion.
Loughran and Corey Usavich then hooked up as Usavich made a diving, 17-yard touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone to make it 14-0 with 5:54 remaining in the first half.
“Actually he changed up the route mid-play,” Loughran said of Usavich. “I had to roll out due to pressure, but we had a good connection. I saw him break and I knew he had the corner beat, so I just threw it up and he made a spectacular catch on it.”
The Spartans scored again on Riley’s 1-yard touchdown run that put them up 21-0 with 1:37 left in the third, but Red Hook senior quarterback Lucas Brocchetti (13 for 30, 234 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions) led a comeback to bring the Raiders within 21-14 with 4:45 to go in the contest.
Spackenkill then put Loughran and running back Wayne Bowden (111 yards on 14 carries) back into the game, and Bowden’s 28-yard sprint eventually set up a 28-yard touchdown dash from Celestino to clinch the 27-14 final with 1:26 remaining.
Afterward, however, Spackenkill’s focus was clearly on New Paltz, a team the Spartans beat 21-20 in overtime to kick off the season.
“It’s going to be fun,” DeSouza said. “It’s going to be exciting. They’re a very good football team. The best backs we see in Class B for sure and we’ve just got to gang-tackle. We’ve got to work on that all week and just play good Spack football.”
For his part, Loughran didn’t seem as concerned.
“I’m not too worried about New Paltz,” he said. “It was close, but I know we’re going to take it to them. We’re just focused on us and we know we’ve got to improve a little bit here and there, but I know we’ve got it.”