Coach Dave Falco's goal is to get Sachem North a title

Sachem North takes the field against William Floyd Sachem North takes the field against William Floyd in the Suffolk Division I football semifinal playoff game. (Nov. 16, 2012) Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

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Gregg Sarra Newsday Columnist Gregg Sarra

Gregg Sarra is Newsday's high school sports columnist and writer. ...

Sachem North football coach Dave Falco woke up Saturday morning and the sun came up. And it will continue to come up for as long as Falco holds the reins of one of Long Island's top programs.

The Flaming Arrows again were stopped in their quest to claim a Long Island Class I championship. For the fourth straight year, Floyd eliminated Sachem North from the postseason.

This time the fourth-seeded Colonials ousted No. 2 Sachem North, 32-7, Friday night in the semifinal round, not in the championship game. In the three previous years, Sachem North lost to Floyd in the Suffolk Division I title game.

This one was different only in venue and round. It still hurts the same.

Falco exited his home field late Friday, trying to absorb the first loss hung on his Flaming Arrows at Fred Fusaro Alumni Stadium in Lake Ronkonkoma in three years. The Colonials snapped their home winning streak at 23.

Falco managed to take himself away from the sting of the disappointment and look ahead -- something he has been forced to do for four years now.

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"We'll be back," he said. "Where are we going? We have a ton of talent here and we'll continue to work towards a title."

You have to admire the man's resilience. Why not? He has one of the highest winning percentages on Long Island in the past four years with a 35-7 record.

A throng of 1,800 watched as Sachem North forced two first-half turnovers to take a 7-0 lead. The Flaming Arrows gave the hometown folks so much hope early. They drew first blood on Malik Pierre's 14-yard touchdown run and the defense held Colonials quarterback A.J. Otranto in check.

It didn't last. Falco's staff devised a well-designed trick play that worked beautifully, moved the ball 32 yards and put them on the doorstep of a two-score lead.

And that's where the bad karma started. The big play was nullified by an illegal block.

Floyd scored nine points to take a 9-7 halftime lead. Then it fell apart for Sachem North in a second half that looked more like the past three years in the postseason.

A brilliant pooch kick to open the second half was recovered by Floyd, and the Colonials used that momentum to score 23 more unanswered points and win going away. In the midst of Floyd's momentum- building was a crushing hit on Sachem North quarterback Mike O'Donnell that left him unconscious.

"They have a great team, but it unraveled in a hurry," Floyd coach Paul Longo said. "It's a big rivalry. Our guys really get up for them. It's a respect thing -- we know they're very good."

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According to O'Donnell's father, the 16-year-old junior spent the night at St. Charles Hospital after being diagnosed with a severe concussion.

That crushing blow to the Sachem North offense came before the final dagger in their title hopes as Floyd junior Chris Faison spun out of a tackle and raced 98 yards for a touchdown.

It will be difficult next week when Sachem North sits home and Floyd (8-2) meets the other Sachem -- Sachem East and powerhouse halfback Steven Casali -- for the title.

Since 2000, Floyd has beaten Sachem North 13 of 15 games, including all four postseason meetings. The playoff round and the venue changed, one streak ended and another continued.

Falco has done a great job. His team is always in the show and just has to learn to win the big one.

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And Dave Falco will never let the sun go down on him.

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