Graduation hit Matt Catalano hard.
When his older brother left the stage in June with diploma in hand, the gifted Brewster quarterback knew he needed to make a new connection.
It was a source of great concern.
Kyle Catalano played with instincts developed in the backyard, and led the Bears last year with 36 catches for 726 yards and seven touchdowns. The genetic timing was invaluable.
Developing a new relationship was not the answer.
Matt Catalono needed a wideout he trusted in big moments and quickly began targeting a lifelong friend, Kevin Blank.
The seniors orbited in the same universe since childhood.
“Kevin really knows where to be and when to be there,” Catalano said. “He finds the seams and we have a good connection. It was a big jump, but Kevin has been there from the beginning.
“It’s not the same thing I had with Kyle, but it’s probably right behind.”
Blank caught one pass last season. Heading into Friday’s showdown at Somers, he’d made 13 catches for a team-leading 306 yards.
“They do have some chemistry,” Brewster coach Ed Mulvihill said. “There are times when we really need it. We count on Kevin to get open, and he usually does. … It’s taken some time for us to click. We have new receivers, new linemen and Matt has shown great patience. I really believe things are starting to turn for us.”
Catalano is usually the straight man. Blank is gregarious and sneaky funny.
The playful back and forth never stops.
“We started in preschool together,” Blank said. “Matt is definitely making it easier to find the openings because he puts the ball right there every single time. Kyle was a great mentor to me last season, too, and I’ve kinda taken over his role.
“Matt is just so good. He’s been a smart kid his whole life. Everything coach tells him, he understands right away.”
Catalano threw for nearly 1,700 yards and 15 touchdowns a year ago. The numbers are mixed this fall – 556 yards and three touchdowns passing, 255 yards and five touchdowns rushing.
A number of teammates are now beginning to embrace bigger roles.
Jack Guida and Jeremy Meissner are running the ball effectively and providing more balance. An overtime win last week against John Jay has also provided a needed jolt of confidence.
“”it was a very big win, for everyone,” Catalano said. “John Jay is a good team, a strong program. We hadn’t been able to beat them in a long time, so it was a boost for all of us. It’s good to know that we’re able to compete at a high level.”