Social media couldn't have come soon enough. But as my Twitter account blows up and the text messages come at an alarming pace, I find myself anxiously awaiting scoring updates and storylines throughout what is now become the norm on Friday night. It's incredibly exciting to know what's happening all across Long Island in real time.
Friday night offered us another glimpse of what makes high school football great. We were inspired by an Oceanside football team, clad in new camouflage uniforms, out to recognize Greg Buckley, a brother in arms, who died for his country. The Sailors erased a 21-point deficit in an emotional comeback that ended in a 36-21 win over East Meadow, the defending Nassau Conference I champions, before 2,500 fans in Oceanside. The win helped lift an entire community and how apropos that Justin Buckley, Greg's younger brother, scored the final TD.
Football is the one high school sport that galvanizes communities and brings people together. That spirit and pride in school and community is felt everywhere.
In Suffolk's gritty Division II, a packed house at Nick DeCillis Field in Selden saw the mighty Newfield Wolverines pound their way past Half Hollow Hills West, 35-6. The defending Long Island Class II champions are a defensive-minded crew again, stifling the athletes of Hills West. It is here where the bleachers were baron for decades before last year's march to the Long Island title changed the mindset of the community and restored faith in the football program.
"People are excited about us," said Newfield coach Joe Piccinnini. "It's the thing to do on a Friday night. And we pride ourselves on playing a very physical brand of ball."
All-Long Island selection James Manginelli is a testament to that. He dropped Half Hollow Hills West quarterback Jake Klose for a big loss for the second time in as many plays to end the first half Friday night.
And it would be that kind of night for Klose and company against a Newfield defense that hasn't lost a step after winning the school's first Class II championship last year. Manginelli, known as Mongo, recorded eight solo tackles, two sacks, recovered a fumble to set up a touchdown and blocked an extra-point. It was all in a night's work.
"This year we're a little quicker and the defense still swarms," said the 6-3, 255-pound Manginelli. "Last year we were an all power team. We're out to defend what's ours."
Halfbacks Terrel Perryman and Jack McKeever scored two touchdowns each and 13-year-old freshman Joe Saladino, a 5-9, 230-pound bull, punctuated the win with a 5-yard scoring run.
As Newfield (2-0) was putting the final touch on a time efficient two hour, 20-minute win, Sachem North and Bay Shore were treating fans to an offensive shootout only five miles away in Lake Ronkonkoma.
Junior Trent Crossan became just the sixth player in Long Island history to score eight touchdowns in a game, leading Sachem North (2-0) to a 63-62 overtime win in Suffolk's Division I. Trailing 62-55 in overtime, Crossan ran an option keep to the right side for a 15-yard touchdown and then converted a two-point conversion with the same play for the victory.
"A lot of kids made a lot of big-time plays," Sachem North coach Dave Falco said. "It was an exciting game and we're just glad to come out on top."
Crossan finished with 279 yards on 22 carries and the school record for touchdowns in a single game. The performance comes 11 months after Crossan suffered a completely torn ACL injury and missed more than half of last football season and all of the lacrosse season.
For Bay Shore (0-2) it was another demoralizing loss. Trailing by 14, junior quarterback Ryan Mazzie engineered two touchdown drives including a 6-yard scoring pass to Joel Nunez as time expired to force overtime. There, he drilled a 13-yard touchdown pass to Mike Duquette, his school record sixth of the game.
In the 86-year history of Bay Shore football no quarterback had ever thrown for six scores in a game.
"For them to score on three straight possessions was definitely deflating," Falco said. "Give them credit; they fought the whole game."
The wow factor was in full effect all night. Why not, it's Friday Night Football.