It’s easy to think the silver ‘O’ on the white Oceanside helmet, or the large blue ‘O’ on the hard hats frequently worn by Sailors fans, stands for Offense.
Oceanside is averaging nearly 40 points a game this season and in recent years has been an offensive force. But, as linebacker Bryan Aguilar said, “Don’t sleep on our defense.”
Aguilar made 13 tackles, including a sack, and got plenty of help up front as Oceanside treated an overflow homecoming crowd of more than 2,500 fans to a 34-6 victory Saturday over Freeport in Nassau I.
“Sometimes the defense has to flex its muscles a little,” Oceanside coach Rob Blount said. “The offense has the flair and the pizzazz, but our defense has played well all year and was lights out today.”
Aguilar, fellow linebacker Bernie Diaz (eight tackles, one sack) and defensive backs Alijah James (eight tackles) and Dylan Judd (eight tackles) had a clear path to Freeport’s backs thanks to the line play of Michael Scibelli (three tackles, one sack), Vincent Schell (four tackles) and Chris Pullini.
“”We controlled their offensive line,” Scibelli said. “We open up holes and the linebackers can come through. We wanted to keep them off the board in the second half.”
Oceanside (5-0), which led 34-6 at the half after Francesco Ancona’s school-record 57-yard field goal on a free kick, played defense for nearly the entire second half. Freeport (2-3) mounted two drives that lasted more than eight minutes each, but did not score. “It’s our bend-but-don’t break philosophy,” Blount said.
Blount’s “all-in” offensive philosophy was reflected in the first half. On the first play from scrimmage, Tommy Heuer hit Jake Lazzaro for a 48-yard connection deep down the right sideline. Three plays later, Heuer dove in from the 1 for a 6-0 lead.
The Sailors sprinkled in some razzle-dazzle, including a double-reverse with a lateral and a pass that didn’t work, and a fake punt that did when Derek Cruz hit Diaz for 16 yards and a drive-saving first down.
Heuer (15-for-21, 145 yards) hit Cruz on a bubble screen for a 3-yard TD and a 13-0 lead. After Freeport’s Aaje Grayson shook free for a 28-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter, the Sailors broke it open with a scoring flurry to close out the half. Ancona drilled a 31-yard field goal, Cruz scored two touchdowns and Francona nailed his long field goal on the last play of the half.
Cruz had a busy and productive day. He ran for 91 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns out of the Wildcat, as a change of pace to Heuer’s pinpoint passing. He completed a pass to Diaz for a two-point conversion and had the big completion on the fake punt.
“On that play, I roll out and have the option to pass or run,” Cruz said. “Bernie ran an out route and got open. It was a big play. It kept the energy going.”
An energy that was epitomized Saturday by the ‘D’ as much as the ‘O’. “Our line created space and made it a lot easier for us,” Aguilar said. “Freeport was quick and we knew we had to contain them on the outside. I was just trying to make plays. We have a lot of guys on defense who can do that.”
They just don’t wear the letter ‘D’ on their helmets.
It was such an unusual play that many of the Oceanside players didn’t even realize what was going on. But fortunately, Sailors’ placekicker Francesco Ancona wasn’t confused.
“Coach [Rob Blount] told me a year or two ago about possibly getting a free kick after a fair catch,” Ancona said.
After Jake Lazzaro signaled for and made a fair catch on a short punt by Freeport’s Gregory Pimentel with six seconds left in the first half Saturday, Blount sent Ancona out with the kickoff team, as by rule, that is the alignment for a free kick.
Ancona placed the ball on the tee, took a 10-yard running start and with a strong wind at his back but no defensive line rush in his face, drilled a school-record 57-yard field goal on the last play of the half.
“I’ve always wanted to try it,” Ancona said of the second-longest field goal in Long Island history. “It was a tough angle but when I kicked it, I knew it was good.” — BOB HERZOG
Top Ten Field Goals In Long Island History
62, Todd Sauerbrun, Ward Melville, 1990
57, Todd Sauerbrun, Ward Melville, 1989
57, Chris Soto, East Rockaway, 1993
57, Francesco Ancona, Oceanside, 2017
55, Mark Zaikowski, MacArthur, 2001
55, Ed Perks, Chaminade, 1987
54, Brian Cesarski, Glenn, 1988
54, Mark Zaikowski, MacArthur, 2001
53, Ed Loncar, East Hampton, 1974
53, Don McAulay, East Islip, 53, 1981
COMPILED BY ANDY SLAWSON