It was a brief exchange, but one for the ages.
After Floyd’s 34-14 win over Longwood in the Suffolk Division I final at Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium on Friday night, former Bellport coach Joe Cipp walked over and congratulated Colonials coach Paul Longo.
Cipp’s son Jeff is the Longwood coach, but the handshake and ensuing hug had an even deeper meaning. Longo, who has been the head coach at Floyd since 1995, became the 10th football coach in Long Island history to reach 200 career wins.
“Not many men reach 200 wins,” said Cipp, who retired with 211 career victories.
“Only good ones,” a smiling Longo said.
The duo — with a combined 411 victories — embraced before Cipp walked toward the Longwood sideline.
“That means a lot to me,” Longo said of Cipp’s sentiments. “He’s one of the guys I looked up to.”
Longo joins a select group of 200-win coaches in Suffolk. Rich Reichert, formerly of St. Anthony’s, is the all-time Suffolk leader with 266. Cipp has his 211 and Tom Cassese, formerly of Comsewogue, has 209.
Now Longo will lead Floyd (11-0) against Freeport (11-0) in the Long Island Class I championship game at 4:30 p.m. Friday at LaValle Stadium.
It is the sixth time the schools will meet in the final. Freeport, which earned a 20-19 victory over Floyd last year, leads the series 5-0.
“We’ve been able to get through the season despite a ton of key injuries,” said Longo, who led Floyd to 11 previous appearances in the Long Island Championships and won five times. “Freeport has a great team. They’re the hurdle we have to overcome.”
When it comes to football players in Mastic Beach, they look up to Longo, 62.
“He’s always been the guy to make it happen for all of us,” said senior quarterback Tom Verga, who rushed 12 times for 100 yards and two touchdowns in Friday’s win.
The faces — and most of the names — continue to change for Floyd, but one name has remained constant the last 25 years: Paul Longo. The 1976 St. John the Baptist graduate also is Floyd’s offensive coordinator. Longo has a career record of 200-57.
“No matter what, he’s always honest with you,” said Keith Kobasiuk, the Floyd junior varsity offensive coordinator and a class of 2004 graduate who played under Longo. “When you play for him, you learn how to deal with the lows and the highs.”
It’s usually more about the highs for the Colonials and Longo, who has the most county titles of any football coach in Suffolk history. Floyd is 12-4 in Suffolk finals.
“We have a great tradition here, and it all has to do with him,” Verga said of his coach. “He’s the best.”
With Gregg Sarra