New Season, New Challenges for the Peglegs

During a time when the players can easily become unmotivated and distracted, the Peglegs have done a good job staying determined and working on improving in all aspects of their game.

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By Zifei Zhao

Down 22-14 during the final seconds of regulation, the Stuyvesant Peglegs knew that they had one last shot to score and force the game into overtime. Inside the Sheepshead Bay Sharks’ 10-yard line and with parents, students, and coaches nervously watching from the sidelines, the Peglegs broke out of their huddle and lined up against their opponents. Junior quarterback Adam Sherer took his position directly behind the center. At his call, Sherer received the snap and ran it by himself down the middle, weaving and dodging opponents as he battled his way toward the endzone for a touchdown. Now, all the Peglegs needed was a two-point conversion to tie the game and send it into overtime. The ball was snapped once again and tossed back to junior running back Sam Glusker, who ran it down the right crease into the endzone.

With this game-tying play, the Peglegs forced their opponents, the undefeated Sheepshead Bay Sharks, into OT during their game on October 1. Though they ultimately fell short in a thrilling double overtime finish, the game was indicative of the Peglegs’ resilience and positive start to the season. Down 22-8 in the third quarter, the Peglegs were persistent and slowly worked play-by-play to get back into the game against the Sharks, one of the top teams in the division. “We got another week of practice ahead of us. We’re going to practice hard [and] practice long. This is the top-ranked team in the division. Next week should be better,” Sherer said.

Their competitiveness against the top-ranked opposing team was especially impressive considering that the Peglegs were missing several key starters due to injuries. Senior running back George Lin, who was essential to the Peglegs’ rushing game, is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury, and co-captain and senior wide receiver Tolan Aksay suffered a dislocated shoulder, which has limited his playing time. These injuries challenged the depth of the team and forced reserves to make plays in situations that they weren’t accustomed to. Fortunately, this obstacle wasn’t a major setback for the Peglegs. “We’re a really deep team, so we can fill those roles pretty well […] We’ll continue to work just as hard with whoever we have,” Glusker said.

This positive outlook is one that resonates among all the players on the team. Given the daunting task of facing two undefeated teams in back-to-back weeks, the Peglegs remained focused and driven. Whether facing off against the Sheepshead Bay Sharks team this week or the Dewitt Clinton team in the previous game, the mindset remained the same: battle on every snap. “We try to be a team with a short memory. We go into every drive [and] every snap like it’s 0-0,” Glusker said.

The Peglegs currently stand with a 1-2 record after their loss to Sheepshead Bay High. The Peglegs’ first PSAL game in nearly two years was against William E. Grady High School, which saw the Peglegs dominate their opponents 22-0. The team played well on offense, torching Grady’s defense for 119 passing yards and 146 yards on the ground. The biggest highlight of the game was senior wide receiver Phillip Phan’s 61-yard touchdown reception. His fellow senior and co-captain William Woodruff also played a key role in the passing game, tallying five receptions for 57 yards. On the other side of the ball, Woodruff significantly led the defense with nine tackles (three of which were for a loss). Lin and senior Yaqin Rahman also compiled tackles for loss, which helped lead the Peglegs to a commanding win.

The Peglegs’ second game against Dewitt Clinton highlighted the team’s aptitude for passing the ball as they tallied a total of 103 passing yards with 7.92 passing yards per play. Woodruff once again led the team in total receiving yards, tallying 87 yards from three receptions. Where the team fell short, however, was in total rushing yards (30 compared to their opponent’s 318). Though the final score indicated a lopsided match, the Peglegs were hanging with the opposing team and making it a closely contested game entering the fourth quarter. “Our defense is solid. We held Clinton to eight points in the first half,” Phan said.

During a time when the players can easily become unmotivated and distracted, the Peglegs have done a good job staying determined and working on improving in all aspects of their game. With the overall positive start to the season, the team is optimistic about its remaining games.

“We expect to win the remaining games in the regular season, and we plan on carrying that momentum into the playoffs. From there, we’ll see what happens,” Phan said.