On Tuesday, Stony Brook running back Stacey Bedell texted a picture to New Hampshire running back Dalton Crossan that showed the two of them facing off against each other just like old times when Bedell played for William Floyd High and Crossan was at Sachem North.
"It was pretty cool," Crossan said of the picture posted on Twitter by WUSB Radio. "It has me and him going head to head."
The Colonial Athletic Association season opener for Stony Brook (1-0) against the defending champion Wildcats (1-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday at LaValle Stadium is a big game in its own right, but the renewal of the rivalry between Bedell and Crossan at the site of two of their biggest battles is a special treat for Long Island football fans.
Bedell and Crossan shared Newsday's 2011 Hansen Award as the best football players in Suffolk County. They faced each other four times over two seasons with Bedell and Floyd winning three, including a 41-34 upset in the 2010 Suffolk County Class I championship and a 35-20 decision in the 2011 title rematch.
"Me and Dalton are very good friends," Bedell said. "We used to travel to football camps together; we traveled to Texas for some camps. The high school rivalry brings back memories. I always got him in the Suffolk County championship games."
Crossan transferred to Sachem North as a junior in 2010 when the Flaming Arrows scored a 40-6 blowout win in the regular season, but Bedell scored four TDs in Floyd's Class I championship game upset. "Everybody was surprised because they had a team full of seniors and we had a young team," Bedell said. "We shocked everybody."
The Colonials scored two more wins over Sachem North in 2011, including the big one. Bedell and Crossan each topped the 200 yards rushing in both games.
Crossan has played at LaValle Stadium once since then as a freshman at UNH when the Wildcats scored a 31-13 win over the Seawolves. His role was limited, but he broke a 22-yard run on his only carry plus a 25-yard kickoff return.
"I remember the bus ride before the game," Crossan said of that return visit. "I grew up in Lake Ronkonkoma, and I played at Stony Brook so many times.
"I remember not just playing there, but watching games there growing up. I watched Stony Brook, and I watched [former North Babylon High School star] Jason Gwaltney."
The Suffolk title losses to Floyd were tough, but Crossan recalls them as "good battles." He missed much of last season while fighting through four hamstring injuries but returns now as the Wildcats' starting running back and is excited to renew his rivalry with Bedell.
"I'll feel it a little bit because of the fact we did it so many times in high school," Crossan said. "We want to one-up the other one. If he makes a big play, I feel like I have to make a big play. But it's different because we're not playing defense this time. The most important thing is to come out with the victory."
Bedell and Crossan were defensive backs in high school with the chance to tackle each other. "Dalton has some speed, he's shifty and he has power for his size," said Bedell, who was playing for UMass two years ago when Crossan first visited SBU. "It will be great seeing him because I know he's a great player. I want to watch and see how our defense handles him."
With a laugh, Bedell admitted he sometimes wonders what might have been had Crossan attended Stony Brook. Recalling another pair of storied LI running backs who played for SBU, Bedell said, "We could have been the Brock [Jackolski and Miguel] Maysonet combination."
Instead they will be in opposing uniforms, each trying to outshine the other, as always. "There will be a ton of people I know and lot of family and friends and people who remember the rivalry between me and Stacey and Floyd and Sachem," Crossan said. "There should be a pretty good crowd."