Herzog covers high school sports as a writer and columnist. His primary area of coverage is football,
Same time next year?
Considering that Isaiah Barnes and Stacey Bedell - the show-stopping football stars of Friday's record-breaking Long Island Class I championship game - are juniors, this might well have been the first of a two-part series.
"At the handshake, I told [Bedell], 'See you next year. We'll put on another show,' " said Freeport quarterback Barnes, who brought his double-A game, scoring an LIC-record six touchdowns in the Red Devils' 62-35 victory over Floyd.
The show they put on for the fans at Hofstra was a holiday weekend spectacular. It began with Bedell's electrifying 91-yard return of the opening kickoff and included 11 touchdowns produced by the B & B men. Barnes ran out of the spread offense for six TDs and threw for one. Bedell had two rushing TDs and returned an interception for a TD to go with his curtain-raising kickoff return.
"I told my friend Vantrell [Nash] after the game, 'Keep your head up. We're going to see them again next year,' " Bedell said.
Bedell gave Floyd a 14-0 lead with a 52-yard run on its first offensive play from scrimmage and returned an interception of a Barnes pass 40 yards for a touchdown that tied the score at 21 after the extra point.
"[Barnes] comes off the field and I'm yelling at him," Freeport coach Russ Cellan said of his QB after the interception. "He's so loose. Nothing fazes him. He just keeps playing."
Mostly, Barnes kept running. He carried 23 times for 206 yards, with touchdown runs of 14, 10, 30, 5, 7 and 48 yards. The latter came with 1:58 left in the third quarter, on a play on which he bounced off tacklers to the outside and outran the defenders to the end zone. It gave the Red Devils a 49-35 lead, and they wound up scoring five of the last six touchdowns in the game. "We weren't fast enough to tackle him once he got to the edge," Floyd coach Paul Longo said.
The same could be said of Bedell, who ran for 136 yards on 21 carries. His 6-yard run that cut Freeport's lead to 42-35 in the third quarter shattered the LIC record for total points in a game, set last year when Half Hollow Hills West defeated Lawrence, 42-32, in Class III.
"He's electric," Cellan said. "It's the start of the game and my guys are fresh and he's running away from them. That doesn't usually happen to us."
Eventually, it was Barnes - who runs bigger than his 6-2, 170-pound frame might indicate - who wore down the Colonials. "What can I say?" Cellan said. "He can really run. He's a Vince Young-type runner with those long strides."
Bedell is more the Reggie Bush type, a speedy, shifty runner who makes ankle-breaking cuts. "He played a great game, and that's why Division I schools are interested, He has lightning speed," Longo said.
Barnes had the benefit of a thunderous offensive line that allowed the Red Devils to produce 533 yards of total offense, 330 in a back-and-forth first half that ended with Freeport ahead 35-28.
"My line made me look good. They made their blocks and opened up holes. I found the holes, made the cuts, made a couple of stiff-arms and it was over," Barnes said, taking off his helmet to reveal a wide smile that lit up Shuart Stadium. "I'm on Cloud 9. I can tell everybody out there, there's no feeling in the world like this. It's amazing."
Is it repeatable? "I hope so," Longo said.
So does Cellan. "I'd like nothing better than to see those two guys do it again next year,'' he said. "It means we're back."
But for pure entertainment, it would be tough for an encore in 2011 to match the original.