By John Torenli
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
In the midst of trying to defend their PSAL football championship, the Lincoln Railsplitters have been dealing with the aftereffects of Superstorm Sandy, as well as their playoff opponents.
But according to Lincoln coach Shawn O’Connor, the Railsplitters are coping with the havoc caused by the biggest storm to hit the tri-state area in over half a century by focusing on the task at hand: delivering a second straight Bowl Championship Division title to the Coney Island school.
“We’ve responded well by playing the game,” O’Connor told the Eagle on Thursday morning, five days after watching his team dismantle Campus Magnet, 44-14, in the opening round of the playoffs at the team’s new home away from home, the Lafayette Educational Complex in Bensonhurst.
“We didn’t have much practice time going into the game, but we did a lot of mental work,” admitted O’Connor after Lincoln Field was deemed unplayable due to the torrent of rain water and wind damage caused by the storm just over two weeks ago.
O’Connor also revealed that several of his players were displaced from their homes and lost electricity in the aftermath of Sandy. But compared to the losses suffered by countless others in the city, Long Island and New Jersey, the ‘Splitters weren’t complaining about the challenges that lay ahead, either on the field or off it.
“Last week [the storm] affected us a little bit because we spent time cleaning up the field house,” he said. “I think it brought us closer to together. We had kids helping out. I think the kids realized that home is what you make of it and we’re really lucky to be alive. We can’t use it as an excuse.”
They certainly weren’t making any excuses against Campus Magnet last weekend as junior quarterback Javon Moore threw for 92 yards and a touchdown while running for 61 yards and two more scores. Junior running back Leroy Hancle added a pair of rushing touchdowns to give Lincoln a victory in its first game since a tough 12-7 triumph over Brooklyn rival Sheepshead Bay on Oct. 27.
Sandy washed away Lincoln’s scheduled Nov. 2 matchup with Fort Hamilton, but the time off between games couldn’t stop the fourth-seeded ‘Splitters from advancing toward their ultimate goal.
This Sunday, Lincoln will host Staten Island’s Port Richmond, a 38-6 winner over Beach Channel in the opening round, at Lafayette in the city quarterfinals.
A victory against the Red Raiders would thrust the ‘Splitters into the semifinals for a third consecutive season and keep them on track for a potential postseason showdown with Erasmus in a rematch of last year’s title game at Yankee Stadium.
But as always, O’Connor remains firmly focused on dealing with the next opponent.
“Port Richmond is a very physical team and we have to work on turnovers,” admitted O’Connor, who watched his team commit a pair of costly fumbles against Magnet. “It’s going to be a little bit more physical [than the Campus Magnet game].”
The top-seeded Dutchmen, who knocked off Lincoln by one point on Oct. 20 at Brooklyn’s Sid Luckman Field, resumed their unbeaten march toward the Bronx with a 33-6 home rout of Truman last Saturday.
Coach Danny Landberg’s title-hungry unit will host surprising Sheepshead Bay on Sunday in an all-Brooklyn quarterfinal.
The Sharks, spearheaded by veteran coach Fred Snyder, have rebounded from an 0-3 start to the season by winning five of their last six games – with the lone loss during that stretch coming against O’Connor’s ‘Splitters.
The Sharks stunned favored Brooklyn rival Thomas Jefferson, 21-14, last Saturday to set up Sunday’s matchup with the Dutchmen.
Also representing our borough in the PSAL playoffs this weekend will be eighth-seeded Brooklyn Tech, which visits No. 2 Tottenville on Sunday. The Engineers are riding a season-high seven-game winning streak after dominating JFK, 36-0, last weekend.
Senior running back James Gales rumbled for 159 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries and junior Deon Mash recorded two sacks and two tackles for loss in the shutout victory.
“We lost over a week with the storms and that definitely threw us off,” Gales told MSG Varsity after the win. “When we came back, our helmets were tighter but we worked through it. We had to get readjusted to our pads, but after Monday and Tuesday, we got back into the swing of things.”
Third-seeded Boys and Girls will host Curtis on Sunday, giving Brooklyn a chance to send four teams into next week’s quarterfinals.
The Kangaroos marched to their fourth straight win with a 28-6 triumph over Flushing in the opening round as senior signal-caller Keon Marsh completed 5-of-7 passes for 172 yards and two TDs.