If there was one thing Sheepshead Bay learned this year, it’s to never judge a team based solely on its record.
That came back to bite the Sharks two weeks ago against Port Richmond. A win in that game and the Sharks could have finished the regular season on a seven-game winning streak.
“We realized we can’t sleep on any team,” running back/linebacker Devontai Carlie said. “We can’t look at a team based on their record. Records don’t mean anything.”
That was the week’s credo with below-.500 Canarsie visiting. The Chiefs could have made it into the playoffs with a victory. They were clearly hungry. But Sheepshead Bay started quickly, scoring twice on long runs by Naquan Alexander in the first quarter, and held on for a 15-12 win last Saturday in PSAL City Championship division football.
Sheepshead (6-3) will be in the playoffs for the 13th straight year and Canarsie will be on the outside looking in for the first time since 2004.
“They learned their lesson about records,” Sharks coach Fred Snyder said.
Alexander scored on a 43-yard touchdown run on the fourth play of the game. After Guyvans Philogene blocked a Canarsie punt, Alexander took it in again from 23 yards out with 6:26 left in the first quarter. He finished with 11 carries for 120 yards, but Sheepshead wouldn’t see the end zone again.
“There’s the potential for him to score a touchdown every time he touches the ball,” Snyder said of Alexander, who is also a star on the Sharks’ track team.
Sheepshead’s defense was solid the rest of the way, with the exception of pass coverage, even though Charles Russel and Carlie had interceptions. The Sharks sacked Canarsie quarterback Jarrel Turner four times and held Syracuse-bound running back Steven Rene to 23 yards on 10 carries.
However, Turner got the Chiefs (3-6) back into the game with his arm. The senior signal-caller was 9-of-13 for 151 yards in the second half and finished 16-of-28 for 302 yards. He hit Sosha Callender for a 34-yard touchdown with 11:17 left in the game to make it 15-6, but Canarsie missed a key 2-point conversion that would have made it a one-possession game.
After a Sheepshead punt, Turner then hit Rene down the sidelines for a 25-yard touchdown that closed the gap to15-12 with 3:01 to go. The Sharks recovered the onside kick, though, and gave the ball to Alexander. They got three first downs to put Canarsie away.
“We certainly need to improve on our pass coverage,” Snyder said.
But the Sharks are in the postseason and “anything can happen,” Snyder said. Sheepshead won six of its last seven games after dropping its first two. The team defied expectations after graduating a ton of talent last season. With a strong defense and playmakers on offense %u2013 like Alexander, Carlie and quarterback Deejay White %u2013 the Sharks could be a dark horse in November.
And don’t think that Port Richmond game has been put to rest yet either. Carlie said he still thinks about that game and last year’s quarterfinals loss to Boys & Girls every time he steps on the field.
“Now we realize what it takes to win,” he said.