Under pressure from a defensive lineman, New Utrecht’s quarterback Angelo Carrera scrambled right and just barely got a pass attempt off before he was hit. The throw wasn’t pretty, the ball wobbled through the air the entire time and afterward Carrera would admit he thought he’d thrown an interception.
Miraculously, Carrera had gotten enough on the throw for it to find receiver Richard Wright‘s fingertips in the back of the end zone. It was an amazing leaping catch that surely would have made SportsCenter if it was in Metlife Stadium rather than at New Utrecht High School. Instead, the Utes will have to settle for the play being instrumental during a 16-0 victory over Canarsie on Friday.
“Coach always told us to catch, tuck and that’s it,” Wright said. “What was going through my head is that I was going to be in trouble, in big trouble from my coaches if I didn’t catch it.”
That touchdown pass made it 16-0, but the two had already connected on another touchdown pass earlier in the game as well. Carrera connected on 10 of his 11 pass attempts for 130 yards. Wright caught four passes for 54 yards and had an interception in the final seconds of the game that unofficially sealed the victory. Running back Jaleel Brown rushed for 101 yards on 25 attempts.
It was the second big win for the Utes, who were coming off an impressive week one victory against John F. Kennedy Campus. JFK is a solid team with a strong offensive line which means a lot in the Public School Athletic League. Canarsie is a perennially strong football program as well so beating them is never easy. Coming into the season the Utes might not have gotten a lot of notoriety, but expect that to change.
“Going into the season, we thought we had a pretty good team and needed to stay healthy,” said Utes head coach Alan Balkan. “Right now we’re healthy. 2-0 is much better than 0-2. Next week we play Wagner and we know they have a good football team.”
Balkan admitted after the game that they didn’t know what they had in Carrera during the offseason. He said that the original plan was to rotate the quarterback except Carrera played so well that he couldn’t take him out. It’s not impossible to see why he might be doubted, he isn’t a traditional looking quarterback, but watching him on the field it’s quickly evident that he’s more than the sum of his parts.
“He’s a tough kid,” Balkan said. “He works hard in practice. I think he missed a couple of reads today, especially when we were doing our read options, but he threw a nice slant to Rich, he threw it right on his fingers for a touchdown, he threw a nice two-point conversion. We were going to rotate him a little bit at quarterback this week, and we didn’t do it because he was doing pretty good.”
“It’s impressive to see him as a junior starting, his first year starting on varsity,” Wright added. “Last week he had two picks, but this week he came back and made it happen. He got banged up a whole lot last week and again this week too.”
Wright was one of the players Balkan had considered as quarterback before Carrera. It’s obvious to see why because of how athletic he is, but his speed and height makes him a strong receiver as well.
The Utes defense can’t be overlooked in this game. Canarsie’s quarterback was able to pass for 73 yards and run for another 53, but he was literally their only weapon that day as the Utes shut everyone else down. Wright, who also plays defensive back, had an interception along with Dayquan Russell. Bryan Burroughs and Kevin Hillman both had sacks and Michael Velasquez had a pair of tackles for loss.
“We felt going in that they had two good backs and we knew they were good runners so we tried to put pressure on them,” Balkan said. “Our blitzes didn’t work well because we thought their quarterback got rid of the ball pretty fast. Running the balls, we had a couple of plays where we confused the blocking scheme a little bit, but our front line played really good and our secondary is probably the best in the city. Vonn Grant, Richard Wright, Michael Velasquez, they’re some of the best in the city.”
The Utes are at home again next week to host Susan Wagner which should be a good game for them. Their biggest test will come in week four though as they will face Lincoln under the lights in Coney Island.