WALLKILL 23, BURKE CATHOLIC 0
Wallkill used breakaways and a stingy defense to pave the way to a 23-0 non-league win over Burke Catholic Saturday afternoon. Heavy rain didn’t fall but the intermittent light rain ushering in Hanna’s remains was enough to make for a slippery pigskin.
The visiting Panthers lit up the board quickly. On the game’s second play from scrimmage, RB James Schoonmaker ripped up the middle and raced 60 yards for a touchdown. Pat Toole’s PAT made it 7-0.
Two possessions later and following a Burke punt, Wallkill set up shop at its own 13. A holding penalty moved the ball back to the seven. On third and 14, QB Seth Ewald completed a 16-yard pass to TE Anthony Ponesse for a first down at the 25. Schoonmaker smashed for 20 yards for another first down at the Panther 45. Then soph Dom Calvanico got loose and scored on a 55-yard run. Toole made it 14-0 with about 1:30 left in the first quarter.
With seven minutes left in the half, Ewald and receiver Chad Hecht hooked up for what appeared to be a 57-yard TD play. But a hold on the run near the Burke 20 brought the ball back. The Panthers’ threat ended in a punt four plays later, and the halftime score was14-0.
Burke took the second half kickoff and was immediately forced to punt. A bad snap went into the end zone to up Wallkill’s lead to 16-0.
While the young Eagle offense continued to struggle, the defense cranked it up a notch to force a couple of Panther punts. Meanwhile the relentless Wallkill ‘D’ wasn’t giving any ground.
Three minutes into the fourth quarter, a Burke punt situation again went awry as a snap went through the punter’s hands and resulted in a partially blocked punt. That allowed Wallkill afirst and 10 at the Eagle 21. On second down Schoonmaker pounded up the middle and broke free to score on a 21-yard TD run. Toole’s kick made it 23-0.
Against the Panther reserves Burke QB Tim Pezzullo completed a pair of first down passes to Matt Commins and Ryan McClurg. Burke’s drive ended at the Wallkill 33, the Eagle offense’s deepest penetration of the game. Burke finished with only four first downs on the afternoon, three in the second half.
Schoonmaker’s 14 carries netted him 131 rushing yards. Calvanico was five-for-53 and Ewald was nine-for-28. In passing Ewald completed five-of-14 for 98 yards and one interception (by CJ Douglas). Hecht caught two of those passes for 55 yards.
Burke rushed 25 times for only 32 yards. Pezzullo carried six times for 51 yards and FB Mark McNeilly was eight-for-12 yards. The team also suffered a net of 37 negative yards in the face of the Wallkill defensive surge.
In passing, Pezzullo completed 11-for-19 for 69 yards and an interception (by Joe Ortiz). McClurg was the leading receiver with five catches for 32 yards.
“Wallkill just played a great game, and we made too many mistakes,” said Eagle head coach Jeremy Beamon. “But we’ll be back.”
Wallkill coach Dave Der Cola offered this: “It’s good to start with a win. This is the first time in three years that we won our opener. That was a goal we had set for ourselves. League or non-league, they’re all important. Now we need a good week of practice to get ready for Saugerties.”
Next Saturday the Panthers open their Class A league schedule on the Sawyers’ newly renovated field. Burke will open its Class B slate on Friday night at Highland.
--- PHIL DUSENBURY