Andrew Vital was apoplectic after the game. The quarterback was down on himself and his Lincoln football team.
“Overall, we were very undisciplined,” the senior said. “We need to play a lot better.”
His attitude made it seem like Vital was playing in a completely different game than the people in attendance at Old Boys High Field were watching. The elusive, speedy signal-caller ran for 209 yards on 10 carries and three touchdowns to lead Lincoln to a 40-24 win against rival Boys & Girls in PSAL City Championship division football Saturday.
“The score showed something different,” the soft-spoken Vital said.
In a way, he did have a point. Lincoln (4-0) led 20-0 at halftime, but let Boys & Girls (2-2) hang around. The Kangaroos scored 24 points in the second half and cut the Railsplitters lead to 10 three times. Still, Lincoln always had an answer and when senior Selwyn Nicholas picked off Boys quarterback Marlon Marcelle as time expired, the Coney Island squad was still undefeated.
“We won, so I’m happy,” said junior running back Kareem Folkes, who ran for 104 yards on 22 carries. “But too many mistakes. We want to be perfect. Nobody is perfect, but we expect to be.”
Vital was as close as you can come. He had a 74-yard touchdown on Lincoln’s first possession with 2:14 left in the first quarter. In the fourth quarter, with the game hanging in the balance, he had touchdown runs of 34 yards and 28 yards.
“He’s showing that he’s one of the better athletes in the city,” Lincoln coach Shawn O’Connor said.
But what O’Connor likes most about Vital this year isn’t what he’s doing with his legs; it’s what he’s doing with his mouth. The quarterback is extremely vocal and he’s not afraid to call teammates out on the sidelines, which he did multiple times Saturday.
“He’s evolved as a leader,” O’Connor said.
On defense, the team’s leader is superstar defensive end Ishaq Williams, who was close to unstoppable in the first half. He singlehandedly stalled Boys & Girls’ 13-play drive that started the game with a sack of Marcelle at the Lincoln 20. Had the Kangaroos scored there, assistant coach Clive Harding lamented, the game’s outcome could’ve been different.
On the next Boys High possession, Williams sacked Marcelle and stripped him of the ball, which linebacker Andrew Justice took back for a 14-yard touchdown.
“With all the attention, he’s handling it well,” O’Connor said. “He’s causing havoc back there.”
The defense wasn’t nearly as impressive in the second half. Lincoln let Boys & Girls phenom Wilbert Lee rush for 135 of his 157 yards after the break. There were a myriad of penalties against the Railsplitters and O’Connor praised the Kangaroos for hanging in after a wild week that featured their two top coaches getting suspended. Harding was acting head coach for Barry O’Connor. Both were suspended following ejections last week against Campus Magnet and Harding will be banned next week against Tottenville.
“They showed me a lot of heart,” Shawn O’Connor said. “The score might not have shown the whole story. They responded well being down.”
As for the Railsplitters, they weren’t perfect, but they were more than good enough.