By PHIL BRODSKY
Orange Live Sports Writer
Speed is something that cannot be taught. It is something you have or don’t have. There is no question that West Haven High running back Ervin Phillips has speed—lots of it.
After watching shred his team’s defense for three touchdowns and a 47-24 Southern Connecticut Conference Division I victory Friday night at the Blue Devils’ Ken Strong Stadium, Amity coach Bert Mozealous said, “I think he (Phillips) is the fastest, most elusive, and best back in our league. He is shiftier and has more moves than anyone I have seen. I held my breath every time he touched the ball.”
Following the opening kickoff, West Haven (currently ranked No. 8 in the state with a 5-0 record, drove down to the Amity 18-yard line. At that point, Eddy Williams got the call and answered with a quick touchdown. After Amity punted the ball away, the Westies set up shop at their own 7. Later in the first quarter, quarterback Javon Taylor handed the ball over to Phillips and he “took it to the house.” That long TD dash gave West Haven a 13-0 lead. Taylor ended the opening session with a short, four-yard flip to Phillips, who turned that screen pass into a 53 yard TD and a 19-0 Blue Devil lead.
Early in the second quarter, thanks to a blocked punt, Amity finally got its offense going and marched from the West Haven 38 to the 13. When the Blue Devil defense stiffened, the Spartans had to settle for Lyle Luth’s 30 yard field goal.
With four minutes left in the first half, another Westie punt gave the Spartans the ball at midfield. Slowly but surely, Amity drove toward the goal line. Dave Buono made it 19-10 with his one yard dive with but one second left on the clock.
Mozealous said, “We were only trailing by nine points at the half.”
The third quarter opened up with Phillips capping a Devil drive with his 36 yard dash to pay dirt. That score was set up by an interception at the Amity 40. Joey Choinere answered with a one yard run that cut the Blue Devil lead to 26-17.
The ensuing Spartan kickoff was gathered in by Phillips at his own 35 and he was off to the races on a 65 yard sprint. Now leading 33-23, added another third quarter touchdown with Duane Gary’s 55 yard scamper around his right side. The final score of the third quarter came when Westie defender Bobby Sampson picked off an attempted option pitch by sophomore quarterback Tyler Burns. He went into the game when starting QB James Sammonella injured his shoulder and had to leave the field. Trailing 47-17, Amity closed out the scoring with Dave Attolino’s eight yard run during the fourth quarter.
“Our offensive mistakes let West Haven punish our defense. They hit us in the mouth and we did not hit back. We had some success when we drove the ball, but our inconsistent play hurt us badly. Offensively, we did not play well. Our execution was not good. On the other hand, West Haven played really well. We gave them a lot of opportunities to run the ball after we made first contact,” Mozealous added.
The Spartans ended up with 118 passing yards. Semmonella and Burns combined to complete five of 12 passes for 118 yards and two interceptions. Led by Attolino’s 57 yards on 17 carries, Amity added 109 rushing yards. Defensively, Connor Myatt and Matt Attolino each recorded six tackles.
Summing up the long, chilly night on the shoreline, Mozealous said, “We didn’t tackle well. That was the most disappointing part of the game. It was a matter of execution. They did and we didn’t. The plain and simple truth is, we didn’t do a good job. We could have played much better. Instead, we were very inconsistent.”
Mozealous did single out Choinere for his efforts. In addition to scoring a touchdown, he blocked a punt and snagged two passes.
The 2-3 Spartans may be jumping from the fireplace into the fire on Friday when they host 5-1 Xavier in a 7 p.m. start at Bill Johnson Field. The Falcons had been No. 1 in the State since going undefeated last year, but they had their winning streak snapped by Hand last Friday night in Madison.