A few tweaks here and a 270-pound halfback there, and what do you have? Instant offense. The struggles of the Newfield offense seem to be a thing of the past. The unit was mired in a midseason slump and three straight losses threatened to short circuit its playoff hopes.
"We needed to make some changes," Newfield coach Joe Piccinnini said. "And we had to get this thing headed in the right direction before it was too late."
For the second week in a row, Newfield cruised past a division playoff opponent.
Halfback Zach Powell rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries as Newfield gained 332 yards on the ground en route to a 37-0 win over host Riverhead Sunday in a pivotal Suffolk Division II football game. Ron Denig added 96 yards and a TD on 11 carries and Mike Silva moved between quarterback and the wing position to give Newfield a few different looks.
Silva contributed 61 yards rushing, scored a TD, ran for two two-point conversions and threw a two-point conversion pass to Julian Santiago. Newfield (5-3) earned the trip back to Riverhead (6-2) for next week's quarterfinal playoff game.
"I'm moving around and the offense is doing much better," Silva said. "We added some packages and it gives the coaches more options. It's working."
The Wolverines also moved 6-2, 270-pound lineman Karl Rindfliesch into the backfield. He moves well for a big man and carried four times for 17 yards. But his forte is blocking.
"I get out in front and block and run people over," Rindfliesch said. "I love to hit people. And running the ball is great."
A punishing ground game helped Newfield amass 378 total yards on a windy day that negated the passing game. Riverhead junior Ryan Bitzer, one of Long Island's top quarterbacks, was dogged by a relentless Newfield defense and brutal crosswinds. He finished 7-for-17 passing for 46 yards and had a pass tipped at the line that was returned 43 yards for a TD by Sangye Tsakorshiku.
"We're a power team on both sides of the ball," Newfield junior tackle James Manginelli said. "We play tough defense and now our offense is really moving the ball."
Newfield had scoring drives of 78, 78 and 96 yards. One march lasted 7:42 of the second quarter, capped by a Powell 2-yard scoring run that helped produce a 14-0 halftime lead.
"We couldn't stop them. They were much more physical," Riverhead coach Leif Shay said. "And the wind was definitely a factor with our passing. We'll have to be ready for them next week."
Newfield extended its lead to 22-0 with 4:42 left in the third quarter when Santiago scored on a 4-yard run and Silva added the two-point conversion run. "I just follow the blocking convoy around the end," Silva said.
Riverhead responded with a 14-play, 74-yard march to the Newfield 4-yard line. But a fourth-down run by Charles Bartlett (84 rushing yards), was stuffed by Tom Diubaldo and a horde of Newfield defenders.
Newfield embarked on an 11-play, 96-yard touchdown drive capped by Silva's 1-yard TD run and two-point run.