James Cohan is not a prima donna wide receiver with a habit of demanding the ball. So when the Syosset senior told coach Paul Rorke he was open on the second-to-last play of yesterday's Long Island football opener against Uniondale, Rorke listened.
On the next play, Cohan caught a 22-yard pass from Alex Contino on a post route to end the Conference I overtime thriller in host Syosset's favor, 20-14.
"Pretty much, I told Coach, 'I want a post,' " Cohan said. "He said, 'You want a post?' I said, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah.' I just [went by] the guy and made the play."
Cohan, a 5-8 speedster, lined up as the left receiver and was single-covered in the spread formation, as he was on the play before. Contino took the shotgun snap and lofted a pass in the perfect spot for Cohan to catch it in stride.
The reception ended the Labor Day matinee, and the Braves jumped in a circle around Cohan, slapping his helmet in congratulatory fashion.
"It feels great," Cohan said about playing the hero role. "But it's not about me, it's about the team. It's a great experience."
Syosset might have obtained the same result one play earlier had the shotgun snap not flown over Contino's head and gone for a loss of 11 yards on second-and-1 from the 11. Cohan was just as open on that down.
"We saw some matchups and figured we're in overtime and we have to make a play," Rorke said. "You give kids on the field some input on what they want. Honestly, we just made one more play than they did."
Uniondale had the first possession of overtime, but its 33-yard field-goal try was blocked by Tommy Anderson. The Knights would have picked up a first down on third-and-2 prior to the kick if not for an illegal shift. The penalty cost them 5 yards and the ensuing pass fell incomplete.
Anderson started Syosset's next possession by taking a sweep right 9 yards to the 11. The botched snap followed.
Syosset nearly botched the game late in the fourth quarter. Tyler Desire, rushing around left end, batted Contino's second-down pass in the air, picked it off and returned it to the Syosset 33-yard line. On the next play, William Stanback broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and raced down the right sideline into the end zone. Nyder Chardonette's extra point tied it at 14 with 3:49 to play.
Stanback had 161 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.
"He had a great, great game," Uniondale coach Greg Didio said of his sophomore tailback. "He's phenomenal, and he's the focus of our offense."
Stanback became the focus on Uniondale's first offensive play, when he bounced a run to the outside 66 yards for a score 1:05 into the game.
Syosset answered with an eight-play, 88-yard drive, capped by Joe Morris' 23-yard rumble to the end zone. Logan Fischer's extra point tied it at 7.
Morris led Syosset with 105 rushing yards and another 59 receiving. He touched the ball on seven straight plays on Syosset's second scoring drive and moved the ball 45 yards to the Uniondale 8. Contino capped the drive with a 1-yard sneak with 4:20 left in the third quarter.
As Rorke said after the game: "Wow, what a start."
And what an impressive play-call suggestion by a wide receiver.