The Huntington High School junior varsity football team turned in a great season, compiling a 5-2-1 record.
The team was led by freshmen Robbie Smith, Josiah Melendez, Kevin Drake and Lucas Petrizzi and sophomore Liam Hassett. Smith, Melendez and Hassett were captains.
Huntington JV football quarterback Kevin Drake.
“Robbie was a team leader in every way on both sides of the ball,” Huntington head coach Jim Byrnes Sr. said. “He brings a work ethic that others followed.” Smith led in the Blue Devils in tackles.
Hassett was an offensive team leader at wide receiver and a strong presence at outside linebacker. He had a team high number of receptions. “Liam’s experience was a great factor for our team and the players watched him closely,” Byrnes said.
Melendez shined as Huntington’s best all-around player. The teenager led the team in rushing, touchdowns and total yards from scrimmage. “He has a very high football IQ and is one of the best football players I have ever coached,” Byrnes said.
Drake tossed 12 touchdown passes as the Blue Devils’ quarterback. “Kevin was so solid and steady at the QB position,” Byrnes said. “He made our offense click so smoothly both on the passing and running game. He’s a very talented player who wants to continue to learn and grow at the position and has exceptional talent for a ninth grader.”
Petrizzi sparkled at running back and linebacker. “Lucas is a very solid and intense player who will never be outworked,” Byrnes said. “He loves every challenge that comes his way.”
Huntington defeated Lindenhurst (39-12), Deer Park (41-6), Copiague (46-8), Newfield (37-6) and Smithtown East (34-6). The team fell to Northport (20-12) and West Islip (28-14). The Blue Devils and North Babylon battled to a 36-36 stalemate in the most exciting game of the season.
Huntington scored the game tying touchdown with no time remaining on the clock at home against North Babylon. The play was made possible when the Bulldogs were penalized defensively on the final play of regulation. Offensive coordinator James Byrnes Jr. called the Blue Devils’ extra play that saw Drake take the snap on the 13 yard line and fire a bullet to Hassett, who followed a backside post route for the touchdown.
“The game went back and forth through all four quarters,” Byrnes Sr. said. “The referees told me it was the best JV game they ever worked.”
The coaches spent the season teaching the team how to play “Blue Devil football” and what the expectations were of the program’s players.
Huntington’s roster also included Lorenzo Aloe, Pablo Aparicio-Ruiz, Manuel Aviles Jr., Chris Bavaro, Alexander Bellissimo, Aidan Bonn, Raseac Caleb, Matthew Colavecchio, Jayden Cyrise, Nate Deegan, Tylill Evans, Andrew Florvil, Jahiem Hawkins, Kyeon Lyons, John Marziliano, William McClellan, Matthew Minicozzi, George Morris, Ryan Porzio, Kaleef Riley, Jed Rowbo, Cameron Santa-Maria, Joseph Senia, Joseph Tropeano and Vincent Vilardi.
“The future is bright with this JV football team,” Byrnes Sr. said. “If they continue to work hard as they have shown they can, they can go as far as they want. It was a great pleasure for me and my staff to show up every day and work with this team. As usual, the season had to end or this team would still be working and winning. I can’t wait to see them next year continue their success.”