By Janee Law
For the Northport High School football team, it was a fight till the end at their homecoming game on Saturday, and they wound up victorious, defeating Sachem North 29-22.
With the momentum consistently shifting and Sachem up by one point at the end of the fourth quarter, the Tigers decided to bury the game with a two-point conversion, carried out by Andrew Smith, senior quarterback and Kristian Gerken, senior tight end.
“When they [Sachem] came back and took the lead, we didn’t lose our focus,” said Kip Lukralle, head coach for the Northport Tigers football team. “We were prepared…and when you’re prepared and focused, then you’ll be able to persevere.”
“We knew it was going to be a tough physical game, which it was,” he added. “We had to be able to play with a lot of emotion, be real physical and put ourselves in a position to win and, at the end, that’s exactly what happened.”
Along with Smith and Gerken, the team was led by senior fullback Rob Dosch, who scored three touchdowns; senior running back Enzo D’Angelo, who scored on a kickoff return; and senior wide receiver and kicker Ryan Tromblee, who kicked three field goals.
Many parents at the game, including Frank Stola and Mike Gozelski, president of the Northport Tiger Football Booster Club, expected a hard-fought victory for the Tigers.
“This is an outstanding group of young men, not only talent but character and those are the things that are going to take us to the next level,” said Lukralle, who’s been coaching at Northport High School for 30 years. “I don’t really think of it as being 30. I’m not treating it any differently, I’m just looking at it as another season, another game.”
The homecoming game was accompanied by performances from the Northport marching band, flagline, kickline and cheerleading squads. During half-time, the nominees for homecoming king and queen were announced, along with the inductees for the Northport High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Now leading their fall season 2-0, the Tigers prepare for their next game against Ward Melville on Saturday, Sept. 26.
“I’m really proud of the way these kids hung in there and persevered,” Lukralle said. “They never got down, never thought they weren’t going to come back, and fought right till the end. Those characteristics are more than just talent. That’s the heart and the character of kids. This is a great group.”