If the past three games are any indication of what will be key for East Islip as it faces Carey in Sunday's Long Island Class II championship game at LaValle Stadium, it will have to continue its run of dominant second-half play.
During their three-game run to Sunday's showdown, the Redmen have not allowed a second-half touchdown and have scored nine of their own in building a 60-3 advantage over opponents in the final 24 minutes.
East Islip (8-3) avenged three regular-season losses during the playoffs to reach the title game.
"Defensively, we've done a good job, especially in the second half, of really keeping teams out of the end zone," coach Sal J. Ciampi said. "We've dominated the ball and time of possession and been able to wear teams down to the point where late in the game, we've been able to dictate what was going to happen."
Carey (11-0) has scored an average of 40.7 points per game and has held opponents to an average of 101/2 points.
In Carey's 21-6 win over Garden City in the Nassau II final, the Seahawks had five sacks -- three by senior lineman Thomas Gallant and one each by senior lineman Casey Kloepfer and senior linebacker Conor Colasurdo.
"Our defensive line absolutely has to be disruptive," Carey coach Mike Stanley said. "That's been basically the reason that our defense has played so well this year. It's started up front. It really opens things up for our secondary."
Carey will have a tough assignment in trying to contain East Islip quarterback Jack Hannigan. He rushed for a school- record 307 yards in the Suffolk II semifinal game against Bellport and followed that up with three touchdown passes and one touchdown run in the final against Hills West.
"He's a very tough kid mentally and physically," Ciampi said. "He's a quarterback who's not only dominating the ball but is also playing inside linebacker. It tells you a little bit about his mind-set.
"Going back in the history of the Suffolk County playoffs, I think you'd probably be hard-pressed to find one single person have as good a run as he's had in the three playoff wins."
Mike Catanese will lead Carey's offense. In the Nassau II final, he rushed for 48 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries and completed 5 of 9 passes for 61 yards and a touchdown to lead his team to a win.
"To me, I never get too caught up with statistics," Stanley said. "You get caught up with results, and the result last week was that he led us to a county championship and he ran for two and he threw for one. He's a big-time gamer."
Carey is the defending Long Island Class II champion. East Islip has been to the county final in seven of the last nine years but hadn't advanced since 2007.
"I think keeping it close lends itself to being successful. But obviously our game plan isn't just to keep it close," Ciampi said. "They're a great team. We have a tremendous amount of respect for them. But I think everyone just thinks we're kind of just showing up and it's just going to be Carey's coronation and they are going to ride off into the sunset. That's not the way we're thinking at all."