Unsacked Nick Santorelli happy to honor his offensive line
Gregg SarraGregg Sarra
Gregg Sarra is Newsday's high school sports columnist and writer.
Babylon quarterback Nick Santorelli plans to go shopping in the near future. Just a few gifts for five special people -- his offensive line.
"Oh, I'm definitely going out and doing something special for the line,'' Santorelli said. "I told my mom we're going shopping and taking care of my guys.''
Santorelli has never lost a varsity football game as the Panthers' starting quarterback. That's 24 straight wins, including two Long Island Class IV championship games. He's thrown for 2,975 yards and rushed for another 1,405. He's totaled 54 touchdowns, 41 passing and 13 rushing.
Along with those numbers, there is one that will forever stand out in Santorelli's mind: zero. He has never been sacked -- not once -- in a two-year span and more than 1,200 snaps.
"Those guys protected me on every play," Santorelli said proudly after Friday's 27-26 victory over Roosevelt. "Imagine that, no breakdowns for a unit that is asked to perform in a fairly complex offense where the pocket can move around.''
And Santorelli wants none of the accolades. He deflects all the credit to the athletes around him. The outstanding offensive line that cleared the way to Long Island's longest current winning streak (24 games) includes center Matt Pinto, guards Joe Cosby and Tyler Christiansen and tackles Shea Amdur and Ryan Matthews.
"Those guys rarely share the spotlight,'' Santorelli said. "The guys that score the touchdowns, me and Jake Carlock, Eric Schweitzer, Luke Zappia and Ray Wardell, get the write-ups, the photos and media attention. The line puts in all the hours in the offseason and in the weight room.''
Cosby, a junior right guard, was soaking in all the glory after Friday's game. Standing in the end zone hugging it out with his brother Andrew, a member of the Panthers' 2008 championship team, Cosby reflected on Santorelli and the line's accomplishments.
"The line really takes so much pride in protecting our quarterback,'' said Cosby, who will serve as Babylon's captain in his senior season. "I know Nick likes to give us all the credit because he's a true leader. It's easy to block for a guy that you respect and treats you well.''
Cosby was asked how the line never blew an assignment and allowed a sack, an almost impossible task. His comments were very telling and a testament to Santorelli's athletic ability.
"Imagine that, we never missed a block, but that's not realistic,'' Cosby said. "There were plenty of times where Nick bailed us out with his vision and ability to escape a defender. He's a great runner and made so many big plays.''
On the bus ride home from Babylon's comeback victory, Santorelli, looking for ways to show his appreciation for his offensive line, asked the coaches what his linemen like. Asked the quarterback, "Would it be food?''
Santorelli recognized the consistency of Pinto, the center, whose shotgun snaps have provided rhythm and tempo for two seasons.
"He didn't have a bad snap all season,'' Santorelli said. "It makes my job easy when the center gets it all started with a perfect snap.''
And even easier when the quarterback stays upright.