The long wait for a final high school season was well worth it for Andrew Calderon.
The MacArthur senior lineman recovered a blocked field-goal attempt and raced 79 yards for a touchdown with five seconds left before halftime in the Generals’ Conference II opener at South Side last Saturday in a play that proved to be the key turning point in a 27-6 win.
“I have been playing tackle football since I was four years old and had never scored a touchdown until today,” said Calderon, whose first time reaching the end zone off turned a one-point MacArthur lead into a 14-6 halftime advantage. “The best part about it was celebrating with my teammates and seeing them get all hyped for me.”
Calderon’s celebratory moment, which was made possible thanks to Finn Duffy blocking South Side's 35-yard field goal attempt when MacArthur led 7-6, nearly never had a chance to occur after the fall season scrapped due to COVID-19. Saturday's road game marked the first time MacArthur and South Side had taken the field since November 2019 as the kickoff to an abridged six-game spring schedule.
MacArthur carried over the momentum from Calderon's scoop and score with a six-play 56-yard drive to start the second half capped off by a one-yard touchdown on a quarterback keeper from Ryan Muller. Ryan Isom opened the drive with 45-yard run.
Isom later put the game away with a three-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter that made it 27-6. The senior running back finished with 137 yards on 21 carries.
“We controlled the ball for the second half,” said MacArthur head coach Bobby Fehrenbach, noting South Side only ran eight offensive plays in the final two quarters. “Our line is very big so we wanted to take advantage of that.”
Powering MacArthur's strong running game were starting linemen Matt Cacace, Anthony Tufano, Greg Mila, James Clarkson and Calderon.
Muller completed a 66-yard touchdown to Matt Papach early in the second quarter on his only pass of the game when the Generals trailed 6-0. Mike Randazzo converted the ensuing extra point for a 7-6 lead.
South Side took an early 6-0 lead following a Matt Melkonian 3-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter.
“He is going to be our workhorse this year,” South Side head coach Phil Onesto said of Melkonian.
The five play 25-yard drive, which was set up by a blocked punt from Jack Temple, featured 16 yards on three carries by Melkonian. Senior quarterback JohnJude Considine competed a nine-yard screen pass to TJ Maher on the drive.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game and we are happy with the effort that our kids had,” Onesto said. “We're going to take what we did well and improve on that.”
The Cyclones return to the field this Saturday at Elmont for a 2 p.m. kickoff. MacArthur is next in action at home against Mepham at 2 p.m.
“We didn't know if this was going to happen so when it did everyone was so excited to get back together,” Calderon said. “We know it could always get taken away so every day I get to spend with my teammates is a pleasure.”