The Mineola Mustangs ended last year’s playoff run in a 34-6 drubbing from the West Hempstead Rams. Mineola was poised for another post season push in 2014 and it showed on Saturday, Oct. 11, with a 15-14 victory over the Rams in homecoming weekend.
With a slow start in the first half, Mineola (4-1) put their first points on the board in the second quarter with a field goal by senior Robert Lang. After a touchdown by the Rams (2-3), they headed into halftime 7-3.
The Rams opened up the third with a recovered onside kick and a 54-yard touchdown. Now with a significant 14-3 lead, the Mustangs needed a spark—and they got one from senior wide receiver/linebaker Brian Smith.
The standout linebacker, picked up a fumble forced by defensive tackle Anthony Sarno and ran an 80-yard touchdown in the third quarter, giving the Mustangs a fighting chance at 14-9.
For more photos from the Mineola Mustang homecoming game and parade, click here.
“I just saw the ball and went for it,” Smith said. “We were down, and I knew we had to do something.”
At two minutes and 4th and 1 for the Rams on their own 36-yard line, Mineola’s defense stopped West Hempstead, turning the ball over on downs. This allowed senior quarterback James Gerstner to later throw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Smith to take the lead with 4:42 left in the game.
Smith praised his team’s defense, saying, “this was a team effort, and our defense was huge tonight – we stuck together and fought as a family.”
“We don’t get too many turnovers, certainly not too many brought back for a touchdown—that was the whole game right there,” head coach of the Mustangs Dan Guido said. “Otherwise we seemed to be out of it – they’re driving to score to make it 21-3 and the next thing you know we’re within a touchdown, so that was awesome.”
The homecoming parade that brought everyone’s spirits up despite a cloudy and rainy day featured homecoming king Joseph Wales and queen Jenna Pareti, as well as the Mineola High School marching band, color guard and cheerleaders. Elaborately designed trucks were filled with students waving to all they passed by along their way to the Hampton Street School.
The high school’s junior princess was Leticia Barreto, Elizabeth Iadevaio as sophomore princess and Chloe Katinas as freshman princess. Members of the Mineola School District Board of Education, Superintendent of Mineola Schools Dr. Michael Nagler as well as Village of Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss and village trustees marched in the parade.
“The team is doing really great this year, everyone is very proud of them,” Strauss said.
The Mustangs will face Island Trees on Friday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. at Hampton Stadium.