Justin Taveras didn’t want to hear anything about what he and his East Islip teammates had accomplished against Wantagh in the Long Island Class III championship game Friday at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.
That East Islip had scored the first points allowed by Wantagh in four postseason games (the Warriors had pitched three straight postseason shutouts in the Nassau playoffs).
That East Islip had become the first team to hold a lead against Wantagh all season (the Warriors had outscored their opponents 359-56 entering the Long Island Championships).
It didn’t matter to Taveras because the Redman lost, 21-14. East Islip (9-3) was looking for its first LIC crown since 2007.
“We should have won the game,” said Taveras, who gained 67 yards on 14 carries. “But nothing can take away from what we did this season.”
East Islip opened the game with an 11-play, 62-yard scoring drive capped by a 1-yard touchdown plunge by quarterback Kyle Fleitman (112 yards rushing) and Doug Carpluk’s kick.
Later, Wantagh (12-0) turned Jimmy Joyce’s one-handed interception near midfield on the first play of the second quarter into a touchdown.
There also was a holding penalty against East Islip that negated what would have been a 2-yard scoring run by Taveras late in the third quarter. Three plays later, Fleitman’s pass was intercepted by Sean Colbert at the Wantagh 2.
“They played us the toughest of any team we played this season,” Wantagh linebacker/fullback Gavin Casey said. “They certainly didn’t quit.”
But after tying the score at 14 with 4:40 left in the first half, East Islip could not figure out the Warriors’ defense. The Redmen rushed 40 times for 179 yards and passed for only 57 yards.
Wantagh had given up double-digit points only one other time this season, in a 42-21 win over Hewlett on Oct. 15. The Warriors registered five shutouts this season and allowed 70 points in 12 games.
“It’s a little bittersweet,” East Islip coach Sal J. Ciampi said. “We had two penalties in the red zone.”
Still, it doesn’t take away from a great season for the Redmen, who avenged both of their regular-season losses with playoff victories over Westhampton and top-seeded Sayville.
“It’s great for the kids,” Ciampi said. “They achieved at a high level.”
Which makes losing their final game of the 2016 season more painful.
“It was a hell of a season,” Taveras said. “I’m going to miss playing with these guys so much.”