It’s been said in sports that victory is the ultimate makeup for a team, able to conceal most any blemish. But that’s often superficial.
More importantly, winning can be a pretty good make-up — as in its ability to soothe bitterness and sometimes help a group reconnect.
Or maybe the Poughkeepsie High School football team rekindled first, and that’s what helped lead them to victory on Friday. Or maybe the win wasn’t at all indicative of any improvement in chemistry. Whatever the case, the Pioneers earning a 20-14 win over Wallkill surely was a positive step for a team in desperate need of one.
It had been a rough three weeks for the Pioneers, the kind of brutal stretch that can derail a season and, worse, fracture a team. Two ugly blowout losses sandwiched around a forfeit, the penalty handed down by district administrators concerned about the behavior of some players. In particular, the players involved in a reported altercation on the bus ride home after a 41-12 loss at Port Jervis on Sept. 11.
Poughkeepsie football to forfeit Friday as part of discipline
That incident cost them the following week’s game when district Superintendent Nicole Williams announced the varsity football players would do community service instead of facing Saugerties. Then, when Poughkeepsie returned to the field, they were pummeled, 59-6, by Cornwall Central.
“Even with the score like that, they didn’t give up,” Pioneers coach Jerry North said. “On the bus, they kept it together and we didn’t point fingers. That’s what I wanted to see.”
It was small.
It was simple.
But it was something.
For a struggling program coming off a one-win season and for a team that may still have some internal issues festering and is led by a first-year coach, an embarrassing defeat compounding the controversy easily could have been the final ingredient for a poison potion. Imagine for a second how that could have gone. Disharmony, discord, dissent… disaster.
That was all seemingly averted. Then on Friday, Isaiah Williams’ 15-yard touchdown reception tied the score at 14 and Troy Schoonmaker’s 3-yard touchdown run with three minutes left won it for Poughkeepsie. Shaquez Nesbitt also starred, returning an interception 68 yards for a score in the first half, and Lucas Ramos and Moe Thomas each had a pick.
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“It just shows that we have character,” North said. “We’re starting to get some pride back.”
It’s also a prime example of victory serving as makeup. The victory alone, obviously, doesn’t resolve everything. But it helps. Because for as bad as it’s been, Poughkeepsie has a 2-3 record, which actually doesn’t sound all that bad. The Pioneers already have surpassed last season’s win total.
There’s also the make-up factor: How the joys of shared success can bring people together and help heal relationships. It’s human nature — folks are usually more forgiving when happy.
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The long-term objective of the forfeit, we presume, was to force the team to take a step back and correct itself before attempting to take the proverbial two steps forward. “The way it was handled made them realize that the things one person does can affect everyone,” North said. “We all have to respect each other and have the same goal.”
We can only hope for all involved that lessons were learned and that Friday’s performance indicated a page being turned, on the field and off it.
“We have to continue sticking together as a team,” North said.
That suggests it’s still a work in progress, that chemistry still is being developed and camaraderie repaired. Which is to be expected.
But with three games remaining — beginning with a trip to Monticello at 1:30 p.m. Saturday — the Pioneers have a chance to make something of this season. For all that went wrong, there still is a chance to make up lost ground. Maybe even change the narrative.
“Progress has definitely been made,” North said. “That last bus ride, it was good. This time we were able to talk about all the good things we did.”
Top Week Five Game
Roy C. Ketcham 13, White Plains 6 — Al Dockery scored a touchdown on a quarterback sneak with 5:04 remaining to seal the win as the Indians earned their second win of the season. Jesse Pascale’s touchdown had given Ketcham a 7-6 lead with 9:31 left in the third quarter and his fourth-quarter interception helped seal the win. Tai-sean Dodd, battling an ankle injury, rushed for 80 yards.
Week Five Scoreboard
John Jay 29, North Rockland 8
Ketcham 13, White Plains 6
Mahopac 27, Arlington 14
Rye 13, Our Lady of Lourdes 7
Millbrook 34, Tri-Valley 0
Spackenkill 30, Rondout Valley 6
Dover 60, Ellenville 0
Marlboro 62, Red Hook 13
Poughkeepsie 20, Wallkill 14
Roscoe 7, Pine Plains/Rhinebeck 6
Valley Central 30, Franklin D. Roosevelt 6
Dobbs Ferry 36, Highland 6
Byram Hills 55, Beacon 43
Woodlands 28, Haldane 0
Top Week Six Matchup
Spackenkill at Red Hook, 7 p.m. Friday — Spackenkill is coming off a dominating win over Rondout Valley, improving its record to 4-1 and clinching a playoff berth. Now it’s about positioning and seeding for the Spartans, who can secure second-place in their league behind Marlboro. Red Hook is coming off a blowout loss to powerhouse Marlboro, but the Raiders have played well in their two victories and seek to make a playoff push. The teams match up well as Spackenkill relies on its power running game and Red Hook has an abundance of speed.
Week Six Schedule
Port Jervis at New Paltz, 4 p.m.
Roosevelt at New Paltz, 6:30 p.m.
White Plains at Arlington, 6:30 p.m.
John Jay at Mamaroneck, 7 p.m.
Wallkill at Marlboro, 7 p.m.
Dover at Pine Plains, 7 p.m.
Chester Academy at Millbrook, 7 p.m.
Red Hook at Spackenkill, 7 p.m.
Beacon at Yorktown, 1:30 p.m.
Poughkeepsie at Monticello, 1:30 p.m.
Highland at Rondout Valley, 1:30 p.m.
Ramapo at Ketcham, 2 p.m.
Lourdes at John Jay Cross River, 6 p.m.
Three of the top football performances in Week Five. Nominate performances by using #PJTop3 on Twitter.
Jaquon Futrell, Dover:Futrell rushed for 296 yards and scored five touchdowns in the first half to lead Dover in a 60-0 rout of Ellenville on Friday.
Bristol Smith, John Jay: The senior scored twice and ran for a career-high 159 yards, including three runs of over 30 yards, as the Patriots beat North Rockland, 29-8, on Friday.
Rino Tamburri, Marlboro: The tailback ran for 234 yards and four touchdowns and also made 13 tackles to lead the Iron Dukes over Red Hook, 62-13, on Friday.
Previous Football Huddles
Week 1: Statement victories set tone for underdogs
Week 2: As list of unbeaten shrinks, Pine Plains/Rhinebeck thrives
Week 3: Red Hook emerging from the “mud”
Week 4: Injury keeps biting
Football Huddle appears every Monday in the Poughkeepsie Journal, breaking down the weekly stories on the gridiron. Stephen Haynes: [email protected], 845-437-4826, Twitter: @StephenHaynes4