Camron Abalos hauled in the long punt in the middle of the field, then quickly scanned his surroundings and cut outside. The slippery runner stutter-stepped and shook a defender on the edge, cut back inside, juked right to lose another defender, then cut across the field diagonally, outrunning the pursuit.
That was a 74-yard punt return touchdown, scored with 10 seconds left in the first half. But it wasn’t even Abalos’ best work on this evening.
That’s because he’s a quarterback.
Abalos did his day job quite well, too, throwing a career-high five touchdowns as the Spackenkill High School football team beat Red Hook, 59-16, in the Spartans’ homecoming game.
The junior completed 8 of 13 passes for 215 yards. And, in his do-it-all role, also rushed for 138 yards, including a 61-yard burst.
“His throws were on-point, his rollout game was strong, he was scrambling, and he was hitting the receivers perfectly,” said Marlon Brooks, who caught two touchdowns from Abalos. “You can’t say enough about him.”
Spackenkill, completing a near-perfect turnaround from last year’s one-win campaign, showed its might once more in dominating a Section 9 rival.
“It’s like a whole new world,” lineman Saad Khan said of his team improving to 5-1. “Last year there were so many obstacles we just couldn’t handle. This year, we found a way to handle them. All the work we’ve done, it all adds up to this.”
Brooks caught three touchdowns and snagged two interceptions, Dhyquem Lewinson ran for 157 yards and two touchdowns for the Spartans.
Joe Arcuri caught two touchdowns and threw for a score, and Alex Strom had a touchdown catch. Defensive tackle Kyiev Bennermon had three tackles for loss and speedster Kabongo Barry, who had a 42-yard catch, also deflected two passes, one of which led to an interception.
Abalos’ dazzling punt return score gave the Spartans a 38-14 lead and sent the home crowd into a tizzy.
“I can’t remember ever having a game like this,” said Abalos, whose previous high was three passing touchdowns. “I’m not really focused on that, though. I’m just really proud of how well the line played and my receivers.”
The scoreboard malfunctioned and shut down in the third quarter. Perhaps from overwork because the Spartans scored quickly and often. Blame Abalos for that.
His 86-yard touchdown pass to Arcuri in the first quarter answered a Red Hook score emphatically. On a third-and-25, he rolled right and floated a deep ball to Arcuri on a go route up the right sideline. The receiver separated, made the catch and outran the pursuit to the end zone.
And then… Abalos found Strom in the right corner of the end zone and his sliding, 10-yard reception gave them a 12-6 lead with 2:57 remaining in the opening quarter.
And then… Spackenkill, bold as they were, attempted and recovered an onside kick and put Abalos right back to work. The quarterback then hit Brooks for a 12-yard touchdown with 32 seconds left in the quarter.
(You can see where this is going.)
And then… After the Raiders pulled within 18-14 on Nick Morrissey’s 72-yard touchdown to Nick Michitsch and the subsequent two-point conversion, pass? Yep, you guessed it. Abalos threw a 12-yard touchdown to Arcuri.
The Spartans got so pass-happy, even teammates got in on the act. On a fourth-and-14, Spackenkill faked an end-around and pitched the ball to Arcuri, who tossed a 36-yard touchdown to a wide open Brooks.
“We worked on that for a few days in practice and it looked good,” Brooks said. “We executed perfectly.”
A touchdown pass to Brooks and Lewinson’s scoring runs of 22 and 38 yards stretched the lead in the second half.
Morrissey’s 16-yard touchdown run – turning the corner around left tackle and leaping into the end zone – put Red Hook (2-4) on the board midway through the first quarter.
Then came the Spackenkill onslaught.
“The attitude is different this year,” Lewinson said. “We’re all together, not worried about individual stats. Everyone is worried about what they can do for their brothers instead of how to make themselves look good.”
And in the process, they’ve made themselves look good.
Stephen Haynes: [email protected], 845-437-4826, Twitter: @StephenHaynes4
Saturday’s football schedule
Poughkeepsie at Monticello, 1:30 p.m.
Highland at Rondout Valley, 1:30 p.m.
Beacon at Yorktown, 1:30 p.m.
Ramapo at Ketcham, 2 p.m.
Lourdes at John Jay-Cross River, 6 p.m.