HARWICH – The roller coaster that was the Monomoy football team’s Fall II season has come to a complete stop.
The Sharks experienced highs and lows, twists and turns throughout their six-game season. They had two games canceled due to COVID-19 protocols and saw some players miss action due to injuries.
Even their last game, a rivalry matchup against their traditional Thanksgiving opponent, St. John Paul II, was packed with tense moments until the final buzzer sounded.
In the end, Monomoy held to earn an 8-6 victory over JPII in Friday’s season finale played at home in Harwich.
“It was just surreal, honestly,” said Monomoy senior Miles Boyle, a Harwich resident. “To go out there with my favorite guys and secure the W, I’ll never forget it.”
The Sharks (1-4) led for much of the game after garnering an 8-0 lead in the first quarter following a one-yard touchdown by senior quarterback Ryan Dennehy. That capped off a lengthy 12-play opening drive that saw the offense travel 61 yards before Dennehy ran up the middle on a QB keeper.
“I feel great about it,” said Dennehy, a Brewster resident. “But if I didn’t have my teammates, I wouldn’t have been able to score. Especially my linemen — they are the most important people on the field.”
Despite falling behind early, JPII (0-3) didn’t go quietly. In fact, the visiting Lions kept the Sharks on the edge of their seat until the final seconds.
Facing fourth and 10 at the Sharks’ 24-yard line inside the final minute, JPII backup quarterback Mike Spadaro threw a 26-yard touchdown to wideout Mike Hyde, cutting the Lions’ deficit to 8-6 with just three seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
The ensuing two-point conversion try failed, however, as Spadaro’s pass fell incomplete in the end zone. The visitors had one last-ditch effort — an onside kick — though the Sharks recovered the ball and launched into a celebration as time expired.
“That was a really close game,” said Monomoy senior running back Tyler Potter, a Harwich resident. “If it wasn’t for each and every individual player, we wouldn’t have had that outcome. We were all making plays out there.”
It really did require an entire team effort in order for Monomoy to earn the win. The defense was led by a collection of seniors, as defensive tackles Justin Sneed and Marcus Lefeged pressured Spadaro in the pocket while Bradley Alexis intercepted two passes from his safety post.
Offensively, Potter ran for 46 yards on seven carries, while freshman quarterback Jake Vagenas added 63 rushing yards on 15 carries.
“These guys really put their all into it. They gave everything, and I’m so proud of them,” Monomoy coach Larry Souza said. “We had a lot of kids, a lot of soccer players, come play because they had the opportunity to because it was in the spring, and every single kid contributed. That’s what makes this such a special win. I’m very proud of all of them.”
For the seniors, who had to undergo so much uncertainty throughout the year, it was a sweet feeling to reach Friday’s finish line.
“There were a lot of obstacles that were in our way during this season,” Boyle said. “We had multiple games get canceled, I broke my wrist two weeks ago, to get to this point and get this win … There’s no better feeling. There’s no better way to go out.”
Sneed said he’d prefer the thrilling last-minute finish to alternative outcomes.
“I’d rather this over a blowout,” said the Harwich resident. “I’d rather this over pretty much everything.”
Souza noted he’ll remember this team for the way they battled adversity while playing during a pandemic. But the coach also admitted the team’s group of seniors will always hold a special place in his heart because they arrived at Monomoy at the same time.
“I’ve been here five years and a lot of these guys have been here five years,” he said. “I was an assistant that first year, but then I took on the whole program, so having that connection was really special. I’ll always remember this group very uniquely.
Email Brad Joyal at firstname.lastname@example.org