It's all about position and possession. It's how teams win this time of year.
The kicking game is crucial late in the season where games are tight and the pressure is on. Just ask Farmingdale coach Buddy Krumenacker, who's led the Dalers to 15 Nassau Conference I finals in the past 22 years.
"You want to make high school teams punt because that's the hardest thing to do in this sport," Krumenacker said. "There is nothing more critical and nothing harder. You have so many things that need to go right to execute. They have to snap it, catch it and kick it. Oh, and they have to protect the kicker. There's a lot going on there."
Farmingdale senior punter Mike Gregorovic has been outstanding this season but is hampered by a slight thigh issue. Sophomore place kicker Zach Kolodny, who had a 30-yard field goal in last week's 12-9 win over Massapequa may take over all kicking duties.
"[Kolodny]'s a real good athlete," Krumenacker said. "The kicking piece is so important for us. Many of our touchdown drives have come on short fields. If you have to drive 80 yards all the time, it's real hard to win."
The final step before the Long Island football championships is upon us. There are 16 teams vying for eight county crowns. Kickoff for the four days of title games commences Friday when top-seeded Farmingdale (9-1) and No. 3 Baldwin (8-2) meet for the Nassau I championship at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium at noon.
Farmingdale has a stingy defense that needs to contain Baldwin's many playmakers the way they did in week two of the regular season when the Dalers came away with a 21-6 win. The Bruins looked unstoppable in last week's 67-27 blowout of Oceanside. Halfbacks Jovaun Tomlinson and Treyvon Mack ran amuck and Travais Hylton added three touchdowns, including an 89-yard kickoff return for a score. Farmingdale's hard-hitting secondary is led by Gregorovic, Xavier Sanabria and Dallas Creamer, and the linebackers are paced by senior Ryan Feiner, who leads the Dalers in tackles.
No. 1 Lawrence (10-0) vs. No. 3 Plainedge (8-2), Friday, at Hofstra , 4 p.m.: Plainedge quarterback Nick Frenger will not allow Lawrence to win this one, 63-0, the way they crushed the Red Devils earlier this season. Too much talent in Plainedge to think this Nassau III game will be easy. Lawrence quarterback Joe Capobianco has thrown 35 touchdown passes in 11 games. His favorite target, Eddie Robinson, has 19 TD receptions.
No. 4 St. Joseph by the Sea (8-1) at No. 1 St. Anthony's (7-2), Saturday, 5:30 p.m.: The Friars have won 10 of the past 11 CHSFL titles. The return of halfback Jordan Gowins was a boost to the Friars' offense which boasts a potent running game behind Anthony Anderson and Brendan Femiano for this Class AAA semifinal.
No. 3 Chaminade (8-1) at No. 2 Iona Prep (8-1), Saturday, 1 p.m.: The Flyers handed Iona Prep its only loss this season, 34-31. Chaminade quarterback Sean Cerrone and the Flyers' offense with halfback Rob Speranza will have to keep pace with Iona's dynamic offense in a Class AAA semifinal.
No. 6 St. John the Baptist (8-1) vs. No. 4 Kellenberg (3-6) at USMMA, tomorrowSaturday, 1 p.m.: The Cougars have enjoyed their best season since 2003. The speed of senior halfback Christian Turri could be the difference in this Class AA semifinal.
No. 1 Garden City (9-1) vs. No. 3 Wantagh (8-2), Sunday, at Hofstra, Noon; Trojans quarterback Brett Stewart tied the school record of 20 touchdown passes this season. He has ace receivers in Justin Guterding and Ed Blatz and halfback Scott D'Antonio. The three-time Conference II champs will need to beat a Wantagh team that edged MacArthur, 14-13, in overtime. Two-way starter Brandon Watson is the Warriors' go-to guy.
No. 3 Roosevelt (8-2) vs. No. 4 Valley Stream North (7-3), Sunday, at Hofstra, 4 p.m.: Can the Rough Riders' dynamic duo of Marquell Saunders and Johnnie Akins be stopped in this Nassau IV final? The Spartans are in the final for the first time since 1981 led by halfback Bill Patsos, who has 20 touchdowns.
No. 4 Floyd (8-2) vs. No. 6 Sachem East (6-4), Sunday, at Stony Brook University, 11 a.m.: Can the Colonials stop Steven Casali, appropriately dubbed the Sachem Beast in the Suffolk I final? Sachem quarterback Dan Wolff and wideouts Ryan Dippel and Bran Balsamo will need big games. Floyd quarterback A.J. Otranto spreads the wealth between a hearty core of receivers and the Colonials' big-time running threat in Chris Faison. They are the three-time defending champions.
No. 1 Sayville (10-0) vs. No. 3 Westhampton (7-3), Sunday, Stony Brook University, 3:30 p.m.: Sayville rides the longest current win streak at 22 and looks to continue its trek back to defend the Long Island Class III title. Westhampton returns to the Suffolk III final behind quarterback Jack Murphy after a 19-14 upset win over Miller Place.
No. 2 Riverhead (8-2) vs. No. 5 North Babylon (7-3), Sunday, Stony Brook University, 6:30 p.m.: North Babylon has been unstoppable offensively with Matt Grassa leading the way at fullback. Riverhead's senior quarterback Ryan Bitzer and halfback Jeremiah Cheatom have the Blue Waves in position to win their first Suffolk II final since 2008.
No. 1 Babylon (10-0) vs. No. 2 Mount Sinai (9-1), Monday, Stony Brook University, 6 p.m.: The only 1 vs. 2 seed in the finals. Babylon edged Mount Sinai, 22-16, and will rely on playmakers Jake Carlock and Eric Schweitzer to win this Suffolk IV final.