After falling behind in each of its previous two games and failing to score in the opening quarter in three of the first four contests, North Shore focused on a fast start at Clarke last Saturday, and senior Joe Barcellos delivered.
Barcellos, a linebacker/running back, recovered a fumble on the first defensive series, had a sack and forced fumble on the next, and a 3-yard touchdown run on his initial carry to set the tone for the Vikings in their 35-20 Conference IV football victory.
“Joe’s a warrior on both sides of the ball,” North Shore head coach Dan Agovino said of Barcellos, who added a second touchdown in the third quarter for a commanding 35-6 lead. “He helped get us going today.”
Senior Dean Abouelhassan had the other three touchdowns for the Vikings, who won their second straight and improved to 3-2. Clarke, which shifted senior quarterback Sean Russell to fullback and gave junior Anthony Caputo his first varsity start, managed two long touchdowns in the fourth quarter to make it respectable but slipped to 2-3.
“We don’t have a large group, but they’re fighters and I’m proud of the way they battled to the end,” Rams head coach John Boyle said. “We dug a hole today just like we did against Carle Place a few weeks ago. These are quality teams and it’s tough to fall behind by two or three touchdowns.”
The first score, the only passing touchdown of the game, was a thing of beauty and reminded Agovino of 2016 when Ryan Aughavin, a finalist for the Snyder Award given to Nassau’s top quarterback, was slinging the pigskin for the Vikings. Scrambling on third-and-11, North Shore junior quarterback Dan Livoti avoided a sack and while on the run floated a perfect pass to Abouelhassan, who caught it at the Clarke 20 and raced to the end zone to complete a 46-yard score just 3:18 into the game.
“Danny scrambled, kept his composure and made a huge play,” Agovino said of Livoti, who went 3-for-3 passing for 90 yards. “It’s all because he’s been studying the game.”
Clarke committed its second turnover in as many possessions when Barcellos sacked Caputo and senior Kyle Commando pounced on the loose ball and returned it more than 20 yards to the Rams’ 4. One play later, Barcellos followed the block of junior center Cristiano Mele for a touchdown and it was 14-0 after junior kicker Luca Marra booted his second of five successful extra points.
Russell cut the margin to 14-6 with a 2-yard touchdown run on the first snap of the second quarter, but the Vikings answered with scoring drives of 80 and 56 yards, both capped by Abouelhassan touchdown runs, and led 28-6 at halftime.
Abouelhassan totaled 118 yards on the ground and senior James Ledden added 109. Clarke senior Austin Carman rushed for 125, including a 57-yard score, and junior Arton Dalipi added a 50-yard touchdown and a two-point conversion catch.
“This win puts us in good position for the playoffs,” Barcellos said.