Danny Roell admits it. “I like to hit. It’s my favorite part of the game.”
That explains why the Seaford star enjoys running inside, despite a modest 5-9, 175-pound frame, where he expects to get hit . . . and enjoys the part of the story where he gets to hit back.
So imagine his surprise — and, frankly, his embarrassment — when he succeeded in breaking through a couple of Clarke tacklers late in the third quarter for a big run down the sidelines, and wound up fumbling the ball . . . without a defender touching him. “I should’ve kept it [the football] high and tight, but I switched it down low and just fumbled it. No one hit me,” Roell said.
That turnover was fresh in Roell’s mind when the Vikings got the ball back early in the fourth quarter. “I just told the line to open the holes and they did. I was really motivated,” he said.
Roell burst down the sidelines for 33 yards to start the drive and finished it was a 10-yard touchdown run, his third, to put the game out of reach. Seaford entertained Saturday’s capacity homecoming crowd with a 34-6 Nassau IV victory over Clarke.
“Our line was getting a really good push the whole game,” said Roell, who carried 24 times for 179 yards, including touchdown bursts of 3, 34 and 10 yards as the Vikings improved to 3-0. Anthony LaRosa had a breakout game for the Rams (2-1), with 18 carries for 146 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown gallop that made it 21-6 late in the third quarter.
Though the Vikings’ offense revolves around Roell — and that’s no secret to their opponents — the passing game flourished in a couple of key situations. Early in the second quarter, after Omar Imitiaz’s punt rolled dead at the Seaford 12, A.J. Cain calmly delivered a strike on a deep slant to Kevin Murphy that split the defense and went for a game-turning 88-yard touchdown.
“That was a big spark early in the game,” Cain said of the score that produced a 14-0 lead. He had delivered a 35-yard strike to Murphy in a second-and-32. Seaford seemed to break out the passing game only in dire circumstances.
And that was the case early in the third quarter when a 59-yard punt by Imitiaz bounced to a stop at the Seaford 3. Typically, Seaford sticks to a conservative running game in such spots, but not this time. Cain again dropped back to pass and from his own end zone, found Andrew Pich all alone deep down the left sideline for a 50-yard gain that flipped the field.
Roell completed the 97-yard drive with a 34-yard run right up the gut, shaking off a tackler who grabbed his facemask.
“I wasn’t surprised by the call,” Cain said of being instructed to throw a pass from the shadows of his own goal post. “I have confidence in my line. It all starts with the blockers. And I have confidence in my receivers to get open, especially when teams are always keying on Danny.”
Do you blame them?