Montauk Sharks Flay Suffolk R.C.

An impressive 60-29 rout
Kevin Brabant, with the ball, was one of a number of Montauk forwards and backs to reel off long gainers in Saturday’s 60-29 rout of the Suffolk R.C. at East Hampton’s Herrick Park. Jack Graves

The Montauk Rugby Club, with an impressive 60-29 rout of the Suffolk R.C. at East Hampton’s Herrick Park Saturday, finished the Empire Geographical Union’s fall Division III season at 3-5, though had the team been at full strength throughout the campaign, Rich Brierley, the Sharks’ coach, agreed that it could have gone undefeated.

“We have 30 on the roster, but only 17 were usually available to us, and of those only six or seven were solid contributors, which made it tough,” said Brierley, who, at 58, often was in the lineup. 

Certainly the younger players — namely Axel Alanis, Brandon Johnson, Jordan Johnson, George Calderon, and Sebastian Antonio — were a plus, Brierley said. He sensed in them, he added, the competitive fire that had fueled Montauk Rugby Club sides of old.

Pretty much everyone got in the act Saturday as forwards and backs — Alanis, Calderon, and Jordan and Brandon Johnson in particular — often charged through gaps in a sagging Suffolk defense for long gainers varying from 30 to 60 yards before being brought to the ground. (It should be added, though, that the visitors, numbering 14, were minus a flanker.)

Aside from the aforementioned, Montauk’s squad that day included Charlie Collins, Steve Turza, James Rigby, Shane O’Keefe, John Glennon, Kevin Brabant, Nick Lawler, Ronan Curran, Mark and Matt Manjuk, and B.A. Anderson, who had come up from North Carolina for the weekend.

Anderson, who didn’t think he’d be playing, managed to borrow what gear he needed, and with his passing, pop kicks, and tries was to make a strong contribution.

Soon after Montauk’s game-opening kickoff, the Sharks began scoring, first with Calderon touching the ball down in the visitors’ try zone, and then with Anderson, Brabant (twice), Alanis, and Turza following suit before the halftime break, by which point, counting O’Keefe’s five extra-point kicks, Montauk held a commanding 40-12 lead.

Suffolk scored right away as the second half began, but Jordan Johnson, assisted by Anderson, replied in kind soon after, and so it went, with Brandon Johnson, O’Keefe, and Calderon tacking on scores before the rout finally came to an end. 

“Montauk and Suffolk should combine — then we’d have a strong side again,” said Kevin Bunce, who coached the Section IX Warriors through a successful season of junior varsity tournaments in Pelham, N.Y., this fall. (The Warriors would have won it had not 4 of their points been deducted after Bunce self-reported the lapse in registration of one of his players.)

But no matter, despite the infraction, he said, his players knew they were winners.

Brierley, when Bunce’s suggestion was relayed to him, said that while it was well taken, “they’re 50 miles away and you wonder how we’d coordinate practices, and, also, nobody wants to let go of the Montauk legacy.”

He would put together some friendly games for the spring and would encourage players to work out over the winter at the MuvStrong and Truth Training fitness studios, Brierley added, when asked what his plans were to keep the side intact in the coming months.

“There’s a tournament at Randalls Island the weekend after St. Patty’s Day, but it was snowed out last year.”

The Sharks were 0-4 through most of the fall until they began to reverse the trend with three wins in their final four games, beginning with a 24-17 win over second-place Brooklyn in Montauk on Oct. 21. With Connor Miller scoring two of the Sharks’ tries, and with Brandon Johnson, who figured prominently in Miller’s clinching second try, and Calderon scoring the others, Montauk thus avenged a 33-5 earlier-season loss to the Empire G.U.’s New York South division’s runners-up.

Montauk avenged itself as well on Rockaway, by a score of 25-15, here on Nov. 4. The Sharks had lost 20-0 to Suffolk in an away game on Oct. 28.

The final New York South standings showed the Long Island R.C. in first place, at 8-0-0, followed by Brooklyn, at 5-3-0, Suffolk, at 2-6-0, Montauk, at 3-5-0, and Rockaway, at 2-6-0.