They are big, they are quick and they are extremely skilled.
Fort Hamilton is a serious city title contender and the Tigers are out to prove it each week.
“When we play, we want to destroy teams,” senior Kevon Foster said. “We want to dominate this year.”
Saturday afternoon was the latest such example, the Brooklyn school racing out to a two-touchdown lead less than seven minutes after kickoff and cruising to a 34-6 victory over DeWitt Clinton in The Bronx.
Before long, the Fort Hamilton cheerleaders’ chants had drowned out the large pro-Clinton crowd. The Tigers’ 28th consecutive regular-season victory was an inevitability before the first quarter was over.
James Howell started the party with a 65-yard punt return for a score, Jakim Williamson added a pair touchdown runs and Brandon Reddish, the Tigers’ versatile and highly recruited senior, scored on a 35-yard run and added an interception for good measure.
“That was the best team I’ve seen in a while,” Clinton coach Howard Langley said.
Langley was most impressed with Fort Hamilton’s play up front in the trenches. His Governors didn’t just get moved off the ball, they were thrown off it, manhandled by the bigger Tigers, namely two-way linemen Ivan Foy and Foster.
The two aren’t just big, they are athletic and quick on their feet.
“That’s what’s dominating games,” said first-year coach Danny Perez, who has taken over for retired legendary head man Vinny Laino. “You don’t get too many four-year varsity players.”
So much for that soft schedule. Clinton (1-3) was supposed to be a legitimate test after Fort Hamilton (4-0) blew out Susan Wagner, New Dorp and FDR in consecutive weeks by a combined 116-14.
The Governors, who reached the quarterfinals last year, had dropped two of their three games, but the setbacks were by a combined eight points. They didn’t stand a chance – on either side of the ball — against the speedy and physically imposing Tigers.
“This proves that even though we played easy teams, we’re gonna kept it consistent,” said Williams, the speedy senior back who ran for 77 yards and touchdown of 16 and 20 yards. “We executed every way we were supposed to.”
Clinton turned the ball over three times, its fullback, Ashton McKenzie, who entered with six touchdowns and 298 yards on the ground, was shutdown completely, and quarterback Joaquin DeJesus was beaten up, sacked five times.
The offense was pretty dynamic in its own right, even if it had a short field to work with on two of its touchdown drives. The return of quarterback Marvin Centeno from injury last week has enabled Reddish to move back to quarterback, his natural position, and has added a lethal passing option.
“It puts us at full speed,” Reddish said. “[Our confidence] is at 100 percent.”
The gifted junior did fumble on a fourth-quarter scramble, but he also hit Reddish on an acrobatic 45-yard connection. Later, Centeno threw a picture-perfect 21-yard touchdown to Travon Segure on play-action early in the third quarter to put the final nail in Clinton’s coffin.
It has almost looked to easy thus far for the Tigers, who have led by at least 14 points at halftime in all four of their victories. Fort Hamilton pointed to next Sunday’s showdown with Queens powerhouse Campus Magnet as a litmus test of sorts.
The Bulldogs are big, like the Tigers, and have plenty of offensive weapons, too. Perez still feels there is plenty of room for improvement. Shaquille Russell was ejected for cursing at an official, setting up Clinton’s only touchdown, and the Tigers committed too many penalties altogether.
Plus, regular-season success is nothing new to the program. Under Laino, it had consecutive perfect regular seasons ruined in the playoffs, the city championship two years ago and semifinals last November. All those wins, Perez said, left an empty feeling with the Tigers when it didn’t amount to postseason success.
“It doesnt mean nothing,” he said.
For now, Fort Hamilton has few problems to worry about. It’s the rest of the city that should be concerned.
“It’s gonna be hard,” Foster said, “for any team to stop us.”