The Long Beach High School football team was hit hard by superstorm Sandy, losing its uniforms, equipment and playing field.
Despite the daunting challenges ahead, the team says that with a little help, it will be ready for Saturday's playoff game at H. Frank Carey High School in Franklin Square.
Latest HS sports stories
"The community is mentally broken down right now," running back J.T. Forkin said. "If we can stand up and they can rally around us, we can bring everyone hope."
The comeback started Tuesday when administrators, coaches and 20 players met at Lindell Elementary School to decide if they could get the players back to Long Island to practice for Saturday's Nassau Conference II first-round game at 1:30 p.m.
The players said about half the team has not been able to return to their homes and are scattered across New York staying with relatives and friends.
Coach Scott Martin said there are players staying in Staten Island, Yonkers and East Rockaway. During Tuesday's meeting, which included Forkin and quarterback Adam Salvadori, the team learned that a few of the absentee players would be able to make it back. That's when Martin made the call.
"We're going to put it together," he told his team. "We're going to play."
The next piece of good news came when the Marines learned they would be allowed to practice at Hofstra's indoor facility Wednesday, Long Beach athletic director Arnold Epstein said.
The next step is getting enough uniforms, helmets and pads to outfit the team.
"Nothing is firmed up yet," Epstein said about the equipment. "But we've seen the generosity of the Nassau Coaches Association and outreach from various organizations . . . it's heartwarming."
Martin, who Tuesday spoke about his team's situation on WFAN's "Boomer and Carton" show, said, "We've gotten a ton of calls from all places . . . Boomer and Carton are involved in some things, and the NFL youth league and NSA [National Sports Agency] football."
There were plenty of moments over the past few days when the team looked like it might have to forfeit the game and end its 5-3 season.
"It's a reality check that football is not everything," said Martin, who still has no power in his home. "Life is more important and the worry and concern we had with player safety and everybody came first."
District Superintendent David Weiss said he expected all four of Long Beach's playoff teams to play in the coming days -- the football team, the girls swim team and the boys and girls volleyball teams.
"The kids are really out of practice," he said, "but we still hope we can win."