Crowd ‘energizes’ players
BY SAM DESMOND
The Bayport-Blue Point Phantoms varsity football team became 10-0 for the 2023 season after a blowout win against Mount …
The Bayport-Blue Point Phantoms varsity football team became 10-0 for the 2023 season after a blowout win against Mount Sinai in the semifinals that ended with a score of 35-7 on Friday, Nov. 10.
While the team has continued their undefeated streak all the way from last year’s opening game, head coach Michael Zafonte still approaches every game “one week at a team, full force.”
The “motivation,” according to Zafonte, is to be dedicated taskmasters for each position and play what he has coined as “unselfish football.”
“It is important we work as a team; we work together for each other,” said Zafonte.
Given their stellar record, Zafonte said, “We are the team to beat now,” but added that the students are “playing well” and that “the hard work is translating to performance on the field.”
At the core of Phantom nation for the 2023 season is a team of “talented athletes,” who are “well coached,” according to Zafonte.
Earlier this season, the team struggled, but ultimately overcame both their first- and second-string quarterbacks being put on the injured list and four players stepping in to fill the role.
“I really credit the kids to stepping up,” said Zafonte. “When someone goes down, they step up.”
The coaching staff preparation was described by Zafonte as “miraculous” and “firing on all cylinders.”
Final scores tell the story of a team that dominates (scoring 359 points for the season and only letting up 90 in 10 games), but Zafonte said, “I never feel like we dominate.”
In this latest gridiron duel against Mount Sinai, Zafonte said that the opposing team made some crucial errors early in the game that helped the Phantoms build their formidable lead, with two touchdowns in the first half of the first quarter.
Since the Phantoms led by 35 points by halftime, the third and fourth quarters were played without stopping the clock. “The second half, we didn’t have to play long,” said Zafonte.”
Major credit goes to the Phantoms’ scout team (i.e., practice team), whom Zafonte said, “work their tails off,” and were responsible for preparing the starters to take on the teams they’ve beaten all season.
“Last week was the best the scout team has ever looked,” said Zafonte. “They never get playing time and it’s so important [that] people realize how integral they are to the victory you see at the end.”
In one of the biggest plays of the game, No. 10, Dylan Spano, caught an interception and scored a touchdown where “the other 10 players were on the other side of the field.”
While Zafonte said he did not turn around to see the crowd, he could feel the energy and said how important that community support is to the players. “Stony Brook has massive stands, and I want to see them filled. I’m hoping for triple the numbers on Saturday in the crowds.”