McKee upsets Tigers in first playoff round   

There was no question that the 3-5 eighth-seeded Seagulls of McKee Staten Island Tech were anxious for a rematch when they visited the 5-3 sixth-seeded Fort Hamilton Tigers for the first round of the PSAL AAA Conference playoffs. After the Tigers beat McKee 36-18 on their home field last month, the Seagulls came out to the field on defense ready to play with a chip on their shoulder. 

On the very first play from scrimmage, McKee’s Batyrkan Alimzanov broke through the Fort Hamilton line to bat Aidan Farley’s screen pass into his outstretched hands for a 55-yard interception return to the 1-yard line. After several attempts, McKee’s Daniel Oyelaja finally pushed the ball across the goal line on a quarterback sneak for the first score of the game. 

When Fort Hamilton regained the ball, the Tigers were pushed back to their own 5-yard line, where they were caught in the end zone and were called for an intentional grounding penalty that resulted in a 2-point safety. Riding their momentum, the Seagulls scored again as Oyelaja found Ethan Cadotte streaking up the middle on a 12-yard pass to end the first quarter with a 14-0 McKee lead. 

In the second quarter, the Seagulls forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff to start their next drive that saw Oyelaja score once more on a 12-yard quarterback keeper. Then midway through the quarter, Fort Hamilton safety Daniel Tkachuk intercepted for the Tigers’ first push into Seagull territory that was consequently stopped on a McKee interception to end the first half with a score of 20-0.

The Seagulls kept their momentum going in the second half as they recovered their opening onside kickoff. Although the Tigers managed to hold their opposition scoreless, they could not muster a sustained drive to score any points for a comeback in the third quarter. In the final quarter, the Seagulls wrapped up the game with two more scores, first with a 15-yard run by Aiden Patsakos, and then with a 10-yard run by Stanley Khaskelzon, for the final score of 34-0.

This was Fort Hamilton’s first playoff appearance since 2018. Despite this uncharacteristic loss, coaches and team parents alike agreed that this season’s team of overachieving underclassmen and senior leaders gave their school a memorable season to be proud of.

In addition to a winning season, first-season junior quarterback Aidan Farley made a meteoric rise to prominence, finishing as the AAA Conference’s top passing quarterback with 1,235 passing yards, 91 completions and 18 touchdowns. On defense, junior linebacker Tim Tan stood out with 70 tackles. For their accomplishments, Tan and Farley will appear in the Rising Stars Bowl in May, in which New York City will play other promising Long Island juniors.

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