Downtown Giants D plays hard in tough loss

In green-gold uniforms matching the mild fall day, the Kings Bay Panthers stepped up to the offensive line, waiting for the Downtown Giants defense to take the field Sat., Oct. 4. In a burst of bright red energy, the Giants “D” took their positions; practiced, determined, and ready to tackle whoever got in their way.

The story of the first quarter in the Peanut Division game was the Giants defense, when, drive after drive, they kept the Panthers scoreless, frustrated, and outside of the goal line, despite the Panthers bringing it to their own 5-yard line. Giants Michael Lenahan, Jake Ourvan, William Watt, Spike Grayson, Nate Hamoway, Matthew Collazo, Brendan Farrell, Zachary Traussi, and Michael Morin all had a great quarter, stopping the Kings Bay offense dead on the line, or tackling their runners in dog pile fashion.

The best defensive play came late in the quarter when Ry Cohen and Trevor Doebele chased and tackled a Panther for a 16-yard loss, followed in the next play by another terrific tackle by Spenser Kiehl, stopping the Panthers before they could score.

The Giants offense then took the field, with Sean O’Toole, Enrique Caballero, Ben Steinberg, Lenahan, and quarterback Jack Vernon all doing their best to advance the ball, but not being able to find an open spot that would take them to the end zone.

The second quarter proved to be as exciting as the first for the Giants defense, with amazing tackles by Grayson, Watt, and Joseph Simmons, holding the Panthers to only a 5-yard gain. But Kings Bay got tougher and drove harder. Despite Giants players doubling up on tackles — with James Halbert and Morin, twice tag teaming on tackles, the Panthers were able to score a touchdown.

The Giants’ Vernon was ready to make some pass plays to score to his targets Steinberg and Cohen — so close, but no completions. Then the Kings Bay defense dug deep and pushed the Giants back 8 yards, making a first down impossible. But with heads held high for a job well done, the Giants offense turned the field back to their defense and cheered them on from the sidelines.

The Panthers offense came out determined, running the ball time and again for steady gains. Enrique Caballero, Doebele, and Sean Halbert all made solid tackles. Even after receiving a hard block himself, Cohen quickly rose and stopped the Panthers runner from gaining further yards. But the best play of the quarter came when the Giants James Halbert got in on the action, tackling a Panthers runner so hard, he caused a fumble. Giants Jett Villa then moved quick as lightning, and came up from the bottom of the pile with the football, proudly recovered, taking the ball and field from the Panthers, and handing it to his teammates on Giants offense as they headed into the half.

Taking Coach Chase, John, Mike, and Frankie’s half-time talk to heart, Giants quarterback Jack Vernon put his “thinking helmut” on, and got his team to the 45 to start the second half. But hit after hit from the Panthers defense took its toll on the offense — O’Toole, Barbieri, Grayson, John Keyes, and Sean Halbert — they were unable to score.

The Panthers offense then came bursting on the scene, with #22 running 40 yards before Kiehl caught and tackled him. But the drive was bittersweet for the Panthers, when they lost 10 yards on a penalty, and took more hard tackles from Giants Avery Rivera and Jack McCabe. James Halbert then forced a fumble and Simmons recovered.

“Let’s go OFFENSE,” the Giants fans chanted, with Lenahan answering the call, shaking off three Panther players before finally going down after a 15-yard gain.

With 7 minutes left in the game, the GIANTS defense was called upon once again to hold the skilled Panthers offense in check. The Giants kept the Panthers held at the line of scrimmage, but the joy was short lived with the next play when the Panthers powered past the Giants for a 30-yard run to the 2 yard line. Kings Bay took it in for another touchdown.

Now the Giants offense were really fired up taking the field, determined to get on the board, with Vernon dropping back to hit Simmons for a 10-yard gain.

The Giants found themselves short of time and the game ended with players, coaches, and parents on both the home and away sides of the stands, happy, proud, and looking forward to the next practice.