Finley Football-7 Gives Opponents Fits
A knack for playing good old-fashioned offense and defense helped the J. Taylor Finley Middle School seventh grade football team compile a 4-2 mark last fall under head coach Michael Bifulco.
Captained by Lawrence Leake, Aidan McCormack, Sean Paton and Brian Weigold, the Falcons proved adept at executing fundamentals and were able to put points on the scoreboard when they needed to the most. Finley earned its victories the hard way, playing good solid football.
The Falcons were a hard-hitting team that could run, block and tackle with the best middle school squads in Suffolk. "Our team was smaller in size than every team we faced," Bifulco said. "We never backed down or gave up. In both games we lost, we came back to give ourselves a chance to win."
Bifulco pointed to Aidan McCormack (QB), Lawrence Leake (RB), Jared Leake (CB), Khari McNeil (OT, DT), Donald Stewart (LB) and Sean Paton (LB) as Finley's top players.
"Aidan was the leader of the team from day one," Bifulco said. "He has a good arm and is smart." Lawrence Leake was the fastest player on the team. "He can break a touchdown at any time," the coach said.
Jared Leake is dangerous on defense at his cornerback position. "Do not throw to his side of the field because he is more likely to score than the other team," Bifulco said. McNeil was "unblockable" at times, the coach said about the ferocious pass rusher.
Stewart roamed the field from sideline-to-sideline from his linebacker position and "never misses a tackle," Bifulco said. Paton was a leader on the field and was the key to the Falcons' defense.
The coach didn't hesitate when asked what he considered Finley's best accomplishment last fall. "Down two touchdowns in our final game against Hauppauge, we rallied to beat a much bigger team by scoring the final three touchdowns and then stopping them on their final drive to finish them off," Bifulco said.
McCormack led the team in touchdown passes and Lawrence Leake was tops in TD runs. Jared Leake and Tim Callahan had the most touchdown passes and Paton led in tackles. Jared Leake also picked-off the most passes.
The 33-player team is expected to pick up next fall where it left off this year. "A lot of the players have older brothers in the system so they know what is expected of them in the offseason," Bifulco said. "We should be able to hit the ground running on the first day of practice next season and have an advantage over every team."