It was only a scrimmage, but clearly there was a game going on.
It was the 15th and final play of the North Babylon vs. Sayville scrimmage, an intriguing matchup of contrasting styles between two No. 1 seeds in Suffolk for 2010. It wasn't exactly a test, more like a pop quiz - with an emphasis on the pop.
North Babylon's vaunted ground-and-pound offense hadn't produced a touchdown in its previous 14 plays and wanted to make a statement. Sayville put the exclamation point at the end of that statement, with three of its defensive players combining to stop Preshod McCoy short of the goal line.
The Golden Flashes reacted by mobbing its defensive players - almost as if it had won a game. "You don't win scrimmages; you use them to get better," Sayville coach Rob Hoss said. "But that was nice to see. Last play of the game; no time left and our kids answered. Now we know we have a defense."
Hoss cited returning All-County tackle Joe DeLuca - "He was a beast inside" - as well as the play of defensive back Rich Millwater and linebacker Matt Ali. Offensively, Sayville's spread, which did not look sharp in its first 30-minute scrimmage against Bayport-Blue Point, moved the ball well against the Bulldogs.
"A very good offense," North Babylon coach Terry Manning acknowledged. Of the last play, he said: "Just a basic power play. They stopped us. We've got a long way to go, but these scrimmages are a teaching tool."
Manning is using the preseason to have his team, the No. 1 seed in Division II, face all three No. 1 seeds in the county. He scrimmaged Bayport-Blue Point (Division IV) and Sayville (III) in this one and will face No. 1 Sachem North (I) on Friday. "I've never had the ability to do that before," Manning said.
In addition to North Babylon, Sayville and Bayport-Blue Point, the other participating teams were Bay Shore, Connetquot, Deer Park, Copiague, Newfield and Wyandanch. All sampled a taste of real competition for the first time this season. Four scrimmages went on simultaneously at the side-by-side turf fields on the south side of Sunrise Highway in Bay Shore.
Offenses began drives on the 50-yard line and there was plenty to see for the 500 fans who paid $5 each toward the Judi Shesh Memorial Foundation for breast cancer awareness. The second annual breast cancer awareness day scrimmage was the brainchild of Bay Shore coach Jim Giattino, whose wife, Debbie, is a survivor of the disease.
"Nine teams, three hours of nonstop football. What a day," Giattino said. "I made sure there were teams that ran I formation, spread, option and wing T. I hope this becomes a tradition. It combines my love for my wife, of course, and my love for football."
On the fence behind the south end zone, white paper cups were inserted into the slots to spell out the words "Beat Breast Cancer!!!" The scoreboard near that end zone was turned off, but who needed it? Everyone was a winner on this day.