Before Seaford's 21-20 win over Roosevelt on Friday night in the last battle of undefeated teams on Long Island this season, Vikings coach Rob Perpall was saying he'd err on the side of caution with his injured players, realizing the most important games of the 2010 season were still to come.
That said, Perpall was effusive in his praise after his team persevered through a multitude of injuries and a furious Roosevelt charge (20 unanswered second-half points) — calling it "the best win in the history of Seaford football."
With quarterback Joe Kirincic (separated shoulder) and center Matt Knudsen (knee) in street clothes, and lineman Greg Kolodinsky (ankle) and star tailback Justin Buckley (high ankle sprain) not 100 percent, Seaford had to rely on its role players to come through.
QB Chris Trotta (pictured, left), who finished 6-for-11 for 131 yards, threw three first-half TD passes, Victor Belgiorno rushed for 138 yards on 27 carries, and caught a 29-yard TD pass on a wheel route, and Daniel Arena caught three passes for 81 yards and two scores. His second TD catch, which made it 21-0, came 19.2 seconds before halftime. He also caught a 37-yard pass on that drive, which went 84 yards on eight plays in 2:42. Said Perpall: "We overcame tremendous adversity."
But the game nearly swung on a few questionable second-half coaching decisions. Take Perpall's decision to onside kick to start the second half leading 21-0. Roosevelt returned the kick to the Seaford 35, and five plays later, the Rough Riders were on the board. The key play on the drive was Donte Colter's 37-yard pass to Jarrett Finley on a halfback option on third-and-13. That was Roosevelt's only completed pass of the night.
Which leads us to the next questionable decision — one by Roosevelt coach Joe Vito, who opted to go for the two-point conversion after Colter's second TD run of the half made it a one-point game with 7:16 left in the fourth quarter. He opted to have Erin Parker (who nailed both his PAT tries on the night) attempt a jump throw rather than give it to Colter, Nassau's leading rusher.
Perpall said he wasn't surprised by Vito's decision. "He wanted to try and end it right there. It was an interesting little [Tim] Tebow jump-pass play."
Roosevelt never touched the ball again, as Seaford ran 16 straight running plays in the final 7:13 to end it. John Troisi, who Perpall called "a 1960s style running back," after the game, converted a fourth-and-3 from the Roosevelt 30 to put the game on ice. In the absence of Buckley, Travis Langan rushed 13 times for 51 yards, while Troisi had 45 yards on eight carries. Langan, a linebacker, also had a sack and another tackle for a loss.
The final questionable decision was Perpall's — to try a fake punt pass on fourth-and-5 from his own 34 up 21-14 with 11 minutes to play. Arena's pass was nearly complete to the wide open receiver, but it was just slightly overthrown. Six plays later, Colter went off-tackle right, cut back on a dime and scored from 18 yards out.
Said Perpall: "[Colter] can score from his own 5 [yard line] just as easily as he can score from our 5. To shut that guy out for four quarters is difficult.”
Seaford will most likely have to shut Colter down once more if it wants to return to the L.I.C. for the fourth straight year. Because as nice of a win as this was for Seaford, extending its conference winning streak to 39 and overall streak to 19, it'll mean very little if (read: once) these two teams meet in the county final.
Said Vito before the game about how he'd handle the result with his team: "It's a big deal if you win, but if you lose, it's only bragging rights until the playoffs start."
Round 1 goes to Seaford.