The results haven’t been great for the Southampton football team in the past three weeks, but head coach Edgar “Hikey” Franklin has tried to accentuate the positive.
The Mariners, who lost, 45-14, at Center Moriches on Friday night to fall to 1-6 on the season, have given up 45 or more points in their last three losses, and are officially out of playoff contention, sitting second-to-last in Division IV with just one game remaining.
But Franklin said his team’s recent lopsided losses haven’t been caused by a lack of effort or enthusiasm.
“Our kids could have packed it in two or three weeks ago,” he said. “The kids played hard all the way through.”
Franklin pointed out that in many of his team’s losses, the games didn’t become blowouts until the latter stages. Southampton’s problem all year, however, has been not only a lack in depth but also a significant size disadvantage, particularly in the trenches. Being outsized at almost every position puts the Mariners at a disadvantage in most of their games, and as time ticks off the clock, it becomes a bigger and bigger problem, as teams are able to wear them down physically.
“We knew coming into the season that the line was going to be an issue,” Franklin said, adding that his team lost one of its most physical and experienced players—Shane Sharkey—when he decided to play golf in the fall instead of football.
On a team that was lacking in size and depth to begin with, that loss hurt, Franklin said. But the coach maintained that his team hasn’t disappointed him in terms of effort.
“We’ve been competitive in all our games except the loss to Glenn,” he said. “The score looks different at the end, but we’ve been in every game until the very end. But bigger lines will wear down smaller lines—without a doubt.”
In addition to those issues, Southampton was also hindered on Friday night by penalties, several of which brought back big plays on offense that were drive-killers.
The Red Devils opened up a 14-0 lead after the first quarter with two big plays—quarterback Tyrell Thomas threw a 49-yard touchdown toss to Tarik Rountree on the first play of the game, and later connected with John-Cody Cerverizzo on a 61-yard score. Center Moriches added a field goal in the second and another touchdown to start the third, going up 24-0, before Southampton got on the board when Nitauke Williams scored on a 34-yard pass.
Center Moriches killed any momentum from that score right away, however, when Rountree returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown. Mariner Shaundell Fishburne had the final score of the night, his own 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Taylor Sanders kicked the extra point to provide the final margin.
Lyle Smith led Southampton with 85 rushing yards on 18 carries, while Brian Knoebel had 38 yards on four carries. Nitauke Williams had four catches for 91 yards and a touchdown.
Though he wasn’t unhappy with his team’s performance on offense, Franklin said his squad didn’t have answers defensively for several big plays by Center Moriches.
“We definitely had success moving the ball, but I think they wore us down on the line,” he said. “They’re a good team, and they played well. And they were successful on some big plays.”
Center Moriches (6-1) moved into fourth place in the division.
The Mariners will close the season at home on Friday night against Mercy (0-7). Franklin hopes his team can end a disappointing season on a positive note.
“The Mercy game will be competitive,” he said. “Mercy is a good team and they’re big up front, but I think it’s a game we can definitely win. The team’s been in high spirits all season—they just have to play it out Friday night. They’ve never quit or complained. They’ve been a great group of guys to coach.”
The Mercy game will kick off at 6:30 p.m.