Very rarely does a team earn a No. 1 seed coming off a 4-6 season. But that’s exactly where Bayport-Blue Point sits in Suffolk Division IV. “We want to show it’s no fluke,” said quarterback Corey Piccone (above).
The Phantoms earned the coaches’ preseason top spot because they staged a stunning upset of No. 2 seed and perennial power Babylon, 26-19, in the first round of last season’s playoffs and because they return nearly all of the starters from that team.
“We’re not a superstar team and we know we’re not No. 1 because we had a great season,” coach Eric Ibarger acknowledged at Wednesday’s morning practice. “It’s a challenge none of us has ever gone through. But the kids are embracing it and we do have 10 of 11 starters back on defense and all 11 on offense.”
Some of those are two-way players, like returning All-County selections Gary Farley (tight end/linebacker) and Jack Sheehan (fullback/linebacker). “It’s awesome to have that recognition,” Sheehan said. “It’s something we’ve worked for since we were freshmen.”
The No. 1 seed brings with it a tougher schedule and the pressure of living up to expectations. “I like the target and being the one out front,” Farley said. “And I love that there’s some buzz about our school. When the rankings came out [last winter], it motivated us to work harder. We know we have a chance to do something big.”
Bayport-Blue Point will get tested early, facing No. 4 seed Mt. Sinai in Week 2 and No. 3 seed Glenn in Week 4. No. 2 seed Babylon eagerly awaits the Phantoms in Week 6. “We know we’re behind those three in a lot of people’s minds,” Piccone said. “But we can handle the pressure. We have a chance to grab the division by the throat.”