This year’s installment of the Stony Brook football team’s annual spring game featured a dominant offensive performance which picked apart an injury-riddled defensive line, one with room for improvement.
During the culmination of 14 weeks of practice, Stony Brook’s offense — its white team — exploded for 38 points before halftime against the defense — its red team — winning by a final score of 38-9 on Saturday, April 23.
“The scoreboard was not our goal,” head coach Chuck Priore said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “The goal was to stay as injury free as we could while having some fun, celebrating spring, and just being back in spring ball. On the field, the kids played hard.”
Following the departure of former captain and quarterback Tyquell Fields, Stony Brook’s spring game featured three potential alternatives for the position — Drew Guttieri, Joshua Zamot and Daron Bryden. The Seawolves also have incoming freshman recruit Charlie McKee from Oceanside High School, the recent Gatorade New York Football Player of the Year winner.
Bryden led the way on Saturday with nine completions over 11 attempts. The sophomore, who was inactive in 2021, threw two touchdowns and recorded 131 yards, the most of all three quarterbacks.
Zamot tossed one touchdown and had the longest pass of the game at 73 yards, but gave up the only interception. Guttieri recorded only 93 yards but went 7-for-8.
“All three [quarterbacks] have had a really good spring,” Priore said. “It’s been interesting. We’ve divided the reps into thirds, and we are running a lot of plays. To be candid, they have each performed very well. I think you really saw that today.”
The white team opened the scoring with a field goal on its first drive. The first touchdown of the day followed soon after via a carry by running back Jayden Cook.
The offense’s ground game was vital to its success. Despite the absence of Ty Son Lawton, who was sidelined due to injury, Stony Brook’s rushing game showed no signs of weakness. Cook finished with 10 carries and 67 yards, second only to running back Roland Dempster (13 carries, 83 yards). Both recorded a touchdown by the final whistle.
The offense kept rolling on its third drive when wide receiver Shawn Harris Jr. made an over-the-shoulder one-handed grab for 39 yards. He finished the game leading all receivers with 126 yards, his longest being a 76-yard catch.
Wide receiver Tedy Afful was the only other receiver to find the endzone. He added two touchdowns to build onto a sizable lead. By the end of the first half, the white team had reached 38 points.
The red team initially struggled to make its way onto the scoreboard. It took until the end of the first quarter for the defense to stop the red-hot offense after three strong drives to open the game. Luckily for the red team, defensive back Jordan Jackson picked off a pass from Zamot to give the team its first four points.
The defense scored two more points in the second quarter after forcing a punt from the white team. It was able to stop the offense a handful of times before halftime, but it was not enough to put a dent in the white team’s lead.
“We had about seven [defensive] starters that couldn’t play today because of relative injuries,” Priore said. “When you take seven starters out and then you take three or four that haven’t practiced because of injuries from the fall, we aren’t going to look as good. So, I’m not really concerned with that.”
Even if Stony Brook’s defense lacked a few key pieces, there is no denying that its offense looked pretty impressive on Saturday.
Another moment to remember came during the halftime ceremony. Per tradition, former alumni, including a few recent graduates and former players, filled the seats at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium at the game. Nine players were awarded end-of-the-year honors, including Fields, Dempster and Lawton.
“It was pretty cool seeing a bunch of old alumni in the stands along with the kids that played this past season who had the chance to lead this team,” Priore said. “It’s always a great connection and it really feels good to see them smile. You want them to smile when they leave and be successful. I think Stony Brook in general provides them with that experience.”
The ceremony capped off a day of both reflection and anticipation for the season to come, which remains just four months away.