South Shore defeated itself before ever stepping onto the football field for a key game against Flushing last Saturday afternoon.
Serious problems off the field that led to fights among players and two senior two-way starters quitting the team finally boiled over into a locker room brawl before Friday’s practice, according to South Shore head coach Matt Ciquera, who expressed his growing frustration his team’s “character issues.”
“We couldn’t even get our pre-practice in because they wanted to brawl in the locker room,” Ciquera said.
He said the strife led directly to South Shore being dealt a 41–14 beating at the hands of visiting Flushing in Public School Athletic League play Oct. 25 — it was Ciquera’s first loss at home in his tenure as head coach.
Ciquera gave Flushing plenty of credit for dealing his team a much-needed wake up call in its first season back in the top-tier City Conference after winning consecutive city titles in the Bowl Conference.
“[Flushing] was a program that functions the right way, and kids who know how to do things the right way versus a program full of kids that are focused on the wrong things right now, unfortunately,” Ciquera said. “It’s a testament to my coaching staff with how well the team has done up to this point with the character issues we’re dealing with in this locker room right now.”
South Shore’s day on the football field was best summed up by two drives.
The first came in the second quarter with South Shore (5–3) down 20–8. Flushing tried to get tricky on a punt by sending its punter in motion. South Shore was able to block the punt and ended up with great field position on Flushing’s side of the gridiron. But the Vikings turned the ball over on downs.
“It’s on us,” said senior wide receiver Timothy Bowers. “It is our mistakes, our penalties that messed us up.”
South Shore was again in a good position for a story when junior Omar Jarrett returned a kick to Flushing’s three-yard line. But a bad snap moved the Vikings back to the 28-yard line and then sophomore quarterback Jason Martin was intercepted in the end zone by Flushing (6–2).
Bowers did show the explosiveness that the Vikings produced in earlier games. He had two touchdown receptions on the day, the first of which went for 80 yards. Flushing quarterback Terrence Chavis threw for three touchdowns to three different receivers and ran for a score.
Ciquera believes his team’s problems go far beyond physical mistakes.
“We got to change how we function as a program, with the standards we’re setting,” he said. “We are dealing with a lot of character issues in the locker room. Unfortunately you’re not going to get very far with those types of things.”