Hail to the Chiefs: Canarsie finally gets first win

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So close, yet so far. That has been the story of Canarsie’s season thus far.

The Chiefs have been within two points of beating both Curtis and Thomas Jefferson and last week led Erasmus Hall at halftime. But they have not had a single win to show for it.

“We’ve been playing like a half,” coach Mike Camardese said. “What happens is because I don’t have enough athletes, you can only hold those teams down for a matter of time. I don’t have anybody to counteract it.”

Canarsie, one of the league’s signature football programs, finally put together a full game Saturday and earned its first victory, 28-6, over host Midwood in PSAL City Championship division football. It came as a relief to Camardese, who fielded just 26 players after a myriad of injuries and handful of seniors quitting the team following training camp.

Junior Marvin Chadic had two touchdown runs, Micah Bucknal found his brother Malachi for a 25-yard touchdown pass and Shelwah Tambah rushed for a 20-yard score to lead the Chiefs (1-6).

“We played good defense today and the offense finally caught up,” Camardese said.

This has been one of the longtime coach’s toughest jobs to date. Canarsie is going through a restructuring, the kind of thing that has seen proud programs like South Shore and Columbus drop into the Bowl division. Camardese, though, is determined to fight through at the city’s highest level. He has 40 players on the junior varsity and thinks Saturday’s victory can be a step in the right direction.

The coach said this year has been a stark contrast to last year, which he called “disgusting.” Canarsie went 3-6 and missed the playoffs only by a game, but he said his team woefully underperformed. This year, the argument can be made that the Chiefs have done better than they should.

“With the team we have, there are really no superstars,” Camardes said. “If you ask a coach who they’re defending on our team, they won’t know anybody.”

Two guys who could have been classified as superstars – running backs Saquan Peters and Seon Bristol – were both lost for the season due to injuries early on. That was a psychological blow to the Chiefs as much as a physical one.

“Those were my two leaders,” Camardese said. “They were the rah-rah guys. Those were the guys the kids looked up to.”

Still, there are positives he’s taking from the first seven weeks of the season.

“As a coach that’s all you can really ask for, that in the end you have a shot to win the game,” Camardese said. “With Curtis we had that. Jefferson, we had that.”

Actually pulling out the win can’t hurt either.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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