The visitor's bleachers, jammed to overflow with fans from East Islip, were mostly empty as the teams gathered at midfield for the postgame handshake. But those remaining had a message for the coach wearing the red shirt and white baseball cap. "Win 100! Win 100!" they chanted. Nearby, a white sign with the red letters 100 was held aloft, along with a large photo of the coach.
"I'm proud to share this milestone with my father," East Islip coach Sal J. Ciampi said after his Redmen gave him his 100th career victory with a 21-6 win over host Islip Friday night in a Suffolk III game played before a crowd of more than 2,500 on the gaudy new turf field at Islip High School.
Latest HS sports stories
His father, Sal Ciampi, was on the sidelines, where he usually is even in retirement, and where it seems he's always been. The elder Ciampi won 165 games (losing 47) making Sal & Sal the only father-son tandem to each win 100 football game in Suffolk County history. Jack Boyle (East Meadow, Clarke) and his still-active son John Boyle (Clarke) are the only Nassau father-son combination to reach the century mark. The Boyles have combined for 263 victories, two fewer than the Ciampis' total.
"When I first took the job after my father retired, he didn't want me to take it because of the pressure of following him," the younger Ciampi (100-44) said after being doused with ice water by his players. "But I was around it my whole life. Who better than me to follow him?"
The 2015 Redmen were well aware that they could share in the family history. "After last season, we knew he had 98 so we knew we could get it for him," gritty quarterback Jack Hannigan said. He was a huge part of the 100th victory, rushing 33 times for 130 yards and two touchdowns, a total that would've been higher if not for a handful of sacks by a stubborn Islip defense led by Nick Barry.
Hannigan led the Redmen on two touchdown drives in the first half. Justin Taveras, who complemented Hannigan with 12 carries for 57 yards plus three receptions for 31 yards, capped one drive with a 2-yard run and Hannigan scored on a 3-yard run. Islip got back in the game on a ball thrown by Daniel Carney that a defensive back tipped right into the arms of receiver Kieran Kissane for a 62-yard scoring play just before halftime.
East Islip controlled time of possession and field position in the second half, but committed some costly penalties and didn't clinch the victory until Hannigan's 3-yard TD run with 1:56 left.
"I'm happy for the kids," Ciampi said. "I push them hard, just like my father did to me and my friends, and they have always responded."
One of his current "kids," Hannigan, who also excelled on defense along with Kyle Nunez and Kai Brothers (two sacks), missed one series with what he said were cramps in both calves, but returned to make sure he was part of his coach's big night. "He deserves this. He loves the sport," Hannigan said. "He drives us hard, but hey, that's coaching, right?"
And coach is what the Ciampi's do.