KINGSTON ─ Scoring in a football game is about being in the right place at the right time, and the Monomoy football team capitalized on that in a chilly Thanksgiving thriller that saw the Sharks triumph against the Sacred Heart Saints 32-7 on the road.
Connor Santoni got the scoring started for the visitors, putting himself in perfect position for a nice pass from quarterback Isaac Hart before racing 40 yards into the end zone to put Monomoy on the scoreboard. Hart completed the opening touchdown with a successful two-point conversion to give the Sharks an 8-0 edge in the first quarter.
Riley Demanche added another eight points to the Shark tally when he intercepted a Sacred Heart pass in the second quarter and ran it in from 42 yards out, with Eli Nickerson on the conversion to make it 16-0.
The Saints managed to eke out a touchdown in response, but that was the last the Shark defense would allow. Monomoy simply refused to back down, with Nickerson on the next TD, and Santoni beating feet into the end zone for another successful conversion to make it 24-7 at the break.
Hart capped off Monomoy's scoring, racing 65 yards down the sidelines in the third quarter for a touchdown, bringing the final tally to 32-7 to give the Sharks something to celebrate on Thanksgiving Day.
The win cemented the 2017 team's status as the winningest team in Monomoy history, with the current squad also being the first to reach the playoffs, ultimately finishing the season with an overall record of 7-4.
First-year coach Brandon Perry was pleased with the outcome of the game and the season.
“I think honestly it was the best game we played all season,” Perry said. “We played an amazing first half and followed it up with the best second half we played all year.”
Perry said he emphasized with his players the importance of a team victory, which he felt the Thanksgiving game was.
“It was just another big team win,” he said. “Our biggest goal this year was to come out and become a football family, and I think that's what we did. Once we became that family everything else fell into place and we took off. To finish as the best team in school history is amazing, and nobody will ever be able to take that away from these kids.”
Perry did offer kudos to a few players.
“Cam Jones played the game of his life at defensive tackle, and Riley Demanche also played his best game. He was all over the field,” said Perry. “Pretty much every single senior. All those seniors really did a good job of coming out and finishing it the right way and leading us.”
Perry deemed Santoni's opening touchdown “big.”
“I don't think they were even ready for that,” he said. “The defense wasn't ready for him and then he snuck out the back, with a great throw by Isaac. It was great to get it started like that. We didn't really look back after that.”
Perry said he'll miss this year's seniors immensely.
“That group, I became tight with them,” he said. “It's not even the football stuff. It's the little things. The way they make me laugh during practice. The jokes. I'm just going to miss them as kids.”
After the final buzzer the atmosphere on the field contained a swirl of emotions as the team's seniors – Santoni, Jake Wisniewski, Griffen Handler, Gavin Viera, Cam Jones, Zach Souza, Clay Howell, Tim McCabe, Ben Hall, Nickerson, and Demanche – gathered with their team to celebrate their final high school game.
Santoni said his opening touchdown would stay with him always.
“I'm going to remember that moment forever, just catching the ball, seeing no one around me, and running to the end zone, especially with the score zero-zero,” he said. “I feel like that got at least my tempo up, because then we knew that we can score on them.”
The senior wide receiver, who has been with the program since his days in the Lower Cape Bluefins, gave a shout out to Demanche for his pick six and his team for owning the game.
“The second half was awesome,” he said. “That's how I wish the team played every week.”
Santoni, like many of his fellow seniors, couldn't hide his emotions in regards to a poignant end to the season, and a career.
“This program pretty much meant everything to me,” he said. “From not missing a day in the weight room to now. It's kind of bittersweet since it was a lot of hard work.”
Viera, who had a big run in the second half, was also feeling grateful for all that football brought to him.
“I think it has completely changed me as a person,” he said. “Even going through all the coaching changes and all the adversity we faced, it helped me mature and grow as a person in general. I'm just so happy that I got to be a part of it, from the start all the way to the finish.”
Viera recalled the struggles of the program when he was new to it, compared to their successes in the 2017 season.
“I started at the worst team getting one win, all the way to getting seven wins and being the best team in school history and going to the playoffs.”
Jones, a former Cape Tech player, decided to return to Monomoy for his senior season, making the final win that much more special.
“It meant more than anything to have my best season back with my brothers,” he said. “It was amazing to have them open their arms and welcome me back as well as they did, because I know it was hard for them. I played against them for three years. I love them. I wish we had more time.”