For a football offense to fire on all cylinders, all the units have to perform together seamlessly on a high level, and the Marlboro offensive line and the team’s cadre of playmakers have complemented each other perfectly this season. That teamwork was on display last Thursday in the squad’s 56-12 trouncing of Rondout Valley, as the home win improved the Dukes’ record to 5-0 as they head down the home stretch of the season.
All night long, the Marlboro line created mammoth holes for the team’s runners to take advantage of, and senior quarterback Phil DeSantis racked up 240 yards rushing on 18 carries with three touchdowns to fuel the Dukes’ victory. “I can’t thank them enough,” DeSantis said of the offensive line. “They’re making big holes for us, and that’s all we can really ask for as running backs and quarterbacks. They do all the hard work.”
As has seemingly been the case all season long, whenever Marlboro needs an offensive boost, the unsung heroes on the line will open up a hole, and a Marlboro running back will rip off a 50+ yard touchdown run, as DeSantis did twice against the Ganders. “They make it easy on us,” Dukes junior center Matt Jackson said of his team’s offensive weapons. “If they get to the secondary they’re going to go, simple as that. As long as we get the down line on the linebackers, they’re going to get to the end zone. They make it an easy job.”
Marlboro ran roughshod over Rondout (1-4) from the get-go on Sept. 28, as junior quarterback Sam Mongelli slithered through the Ganders’ defense for a five-yard touchdown run to put the Dukes ahead 7-0 with 8:22 remaining in the first quarter. On the next Marlboro possession, DeSantis turned the corner on the Rondout defense and raced down the sideline past the Dukes’ bench for an impressive 66-yard TD dash to make it 14-0 with 6:14 to go in the opening frame. “There was some great outside blocking, so I saw a seam and I took it,” he said.
The rout was officially on when Marlboro junior running back Eric Borchert careened into the end zone for a three-yard touchdown score to give the Dukes a 21-0 lead at the 11:06 mark of the second quarter, as the Marlboro offense showed off its varied collection of playmaking assets. “It’s definitely unique,” Jackson said of the team’s offensive depth. “Most teams only have two or three guys at best. I can’t even count how many we have – maybe eight? You never know who the ball’s going to go to and it keep the defense off-balance, which helps us.”
With the half winding down, Mongelli (14 carries for 87 yards rushing) notched his second touchdown of the day, powering in for a one-yard score with 6.9 seconds left in the half to give Marlboro a 28-0 lead at the break. Then, on the second play from scrimmage in the third quarter, DeSantis broke loose down the sideline once again and galloped in for a 56-yard touchdown run to give the Dukes a 35-0 advantage only 46 seconds into the half.
All game long, the Marlboro defense stymied Rondout senior quarterback Ben Hikade (22-50, 273 yards passing, 1 TD, 3 INTs), but the Ganders finally broke through in the third, as Hikade found senior receiver Spencer Sands for a 25-yard TD reception to make it 35-6 with 7:38 remaining in the third. The Dukes handled the unusual pass-heavy Ganders’ offense well on Thursday, holding off a team that had routed Highland 53-13 the previous week. “I think overall we did a pretty good job,” Jackson said. “It was a lot of pass attempts and a lot of running for our secondary. They got a couple, but I think overall our secondary held up and did a good job.”
Mongelli, a junior, scored his third and final rushing touchdown of the day on a 12-yard QB keeper to put Marlboro up 42-6 at the 4:15 mark of the third. Then Mongelli (5-10, 92 yards passing, 1 TD, 1 INT) put the capper on a standout performance when he connected with junior wide receiver Muhammed Banks on a 24-yard touchdown reception that gave Marlboro a 49-6 lead with 3:51 remaining in the third, as the wideout busted through a tackle and zoomed into the end zone. Rondout subsequently got on the board for a second time when junior back Austin Wells scored a one-yard TD run to cut the lead to 49-12 with 6:04 left in the game.
“I didn’t think it was our best defensive effort, but we still only gave up 12 points,” said Marlboro head coach Rich Ward. “We wanted a shutout, but we want to shut everyone out. There’s a lot of good things that come from an offense like that, but you can’t overlook that we had a couple of picks too.”
Playing until the final buzzer, DeSantis collected his third touchdown of the evening on a powerful five-yard run right through the middle of the Rondout defense to seal the 56-12 final score with 2:07 remaining in the fourth. “We feel pretty confident, but each week we come in with the mentality that we’re 0-0,” he said of the Dukes’ undefeated start. ‘We just come in and try to beat our opponent every week.”
The Rondout win was of extra significance since it was the Dukes’ first league game of the season, and Marlboro will now host Red Hook on Friday night as they continue division play. The homecoming game comes one week in advance of Marlboro’s showdown with defending league champs New Paltz, but the Dukes have to take care of business versus the Raiders first. “Red Hook has a great program over there, and we can’t look past anyone,” Ward said “Class B football is really tough, and we don’t have any other opponent than Red Hook.”
By Ted Remsnyder