2002-11-16 / Sports

Far Rockaway JV Football Wants Queens Playoff

By Elio Velez

Sports Columnist

For the first time all season, the Long Island City Bulldogs challenged the junior varsity Seahorses in a game. 6-0 throughout the season in the PSAL Queens and 8-0 overall, the 8-0-halftime lead by LIC was one of the first true tests of the season for the young team.

After committing a couple of turnovers in the first half, Far Rockaway scored 31 straight second half points to get the 31-16 win. The team jumped for joy, the coaches were ecstatic because an undefeated season was still intact. Facing second place Beach Channel this Sunday, a win would give them an undefeated season and the first no loss season since the program was revived six years ago.

But there will be no playoffs for the Seahorses junior varsity team.

The PSAL has not implemented a playoff for the Queens schools: Beach Channel, Long Island City, Bayside, August Martin, Campus Magnet and Springfield Gardens.

Far Rockaway junior varsity head coach Anthony Miele has tried to implore the PSAL to implement the playoff system. "My team start practice on August 16th and at the end of the season, there should be a playoff to reward them."

Miele talked about how Far Rockaway originally was only given a 7 game schedule as Bayside and Flushing dropped their programs. To give their team more games to play, Miele had to fish around for opponents.

"I had to make a million phone calls and I got lucky that Jefferson and Lincoln (High Schools in Brooklyn) took us as a fill in to the schedule."

The talks that Miele has made with the PSAL and other junior varsity coaches to petition for playoffs in Queens have not been successful. The excuses that have been made is that the coaches don't want to play extra games or that the games would be played after the varsity football season is over.

What should be questioned is why would the PSAL keep the playoffs system for perennial powerhouses in Staten Island, such as Curtis or Tottenville, and not give the same chance to schools such as Far Rockaway or Beach Channel?

There was an article last year in the same week, where this issue is coming out, about the Beach Channel JV team. The student-athlete who submitted the article spoke of hard work and dedication from the coaches and teammates related to the 7-0 year that they had. They were playing outside of their home field because of reconstruction and the hardships of transportation. The still won.

At the end of the year, Beach Channel was as good as any team in the city and deserved the chance to keep playing against the best teams.

Coach Miele said that when his brother was head coach of the Bayside junior varsity football team, they contacted Madison High School to play an unofficial championship game between Brooklyn and Queens to see who was the best. Miele has tried to contact schools in Staten Island but with no success.

"It takes a lot of hard work and dedication not only by myself but coaches such as Ken Hernandez to help the kids do their best", said Miele.

The Rockaways have always lost the good athletes to schools such as John Adams, August Martin or Springfield Gardens because of the greater chance to play football and be successful. The growing improvement of the BC and Far Rock's JV and Varsity teams of in various sports the past few years is due to the greater commitment not only by the coaches and schools but is improved in other ways.

"We have a new weight room, a new field and 5 years ago we did not have that. That is why kids are making their choice to stay around the area."

The coaches have stressed that the classroom is always the first priority for the student-athletes. "I'm glad the requirements to play sports in tougher," said Miele. It makes the kids work harder to do well and eventually go to college. We're going to be a good program."

The 2001 rise of the BC team after going 1-6 in 1999, and Far Rock's rise to a probable undefeated season offers growing hope that the Rockaways might become a new hotbed of athletic talent. It will not happen overnight as still many areas need to be fixed to become better schools and better programs. The drive to get to a greater plateau has in some cases begun.

"I will most likely play my last game Sunday unless I get a call," Miele joked. Will the PSAL start to recognize that the Rockaways are not joking about gaining respect? They don't start to listen and the voices will grow louder with discontent even sooner than they think.

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