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Football preview: Lindenhurst-Floyd a marquee matchup

Lindenhurst's Jeremy Ruckert, right, hands off to teammate

Lindenhurst's Jeremy Ruckert, right, hands off to teammate Rick Conway during the first quarter of a Suffolk Division I football game against Longwood on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. Photo Credit: James Escher

It’s good to be home. Or is it?

The undefeated Floyd team will return home after an unprecedented four-game road trip. And that’s the good news.

What could be troubling is Floyd’s opponent. Unbeaten Lindenhurst, which has cruised through the first five games of the season, makes the trip down the South Shore to play in Mastic Beach on Saturday at 2 p.m.

“Oh, this is the game everyone circled on the calendar,” said Lindenhurst coach Nick Lombardo, whose team has beaten Floyd (5-0) three years in a row. “We want to play the defending champions. This game is a proving ground to see how we stack up. Floyd has a top-tier defense and athletes at every position.”

Floyd coach Paul Longo sees the similarities in the teams and knows this could be a preview of the Suffolk I championship game.

“We both have a very good defense. And we both have a balanced offense,’’ Longo said. “It’s the first time we’re facing an athlete in Jeremy Ruckert who excels in every aspect of the game. He’s an impact player on offense, defense and as a kicker on special teams. And he’s surrounded by outstanding athletes.”

Ruckert, an Ohio State commit to play tight end, has influenced every game this season with his booming kickoffs and extra-point kicks.

“He makes teams start at their own 20-yard line and forces teams to drive the field most of the time,” Lombardo said. “He dictates the field position, and that’s big.”

Lombardo also points to the maturity of his athletic quarterback, Nick Anzalone, who has passed for 791 yards and 10 touchdowns, and skill guys Justin Zotto and Ricky Conway as the keys to victory.

“We have a lot of pieces,” Lombardo said. “ . . . Not just one piece.”

Longo knows Lindenhurst can score a ton and that his team will need to control the clock and get the ball into the hands of quarterback Rob Taiani, who has thrown for eight touchdowns, and bullish junior halfback Nick Silva. “We can’t give Lindy a short field,” Longo said. “We need to sustain drives and keep their offense sidelined.”

Centereach at North Babylon, Saturday, 2 p.m.

This game could be over in less than two hours. Both have stout offensive lines and rugged halfbacks and prefer to grind out wins on the ground. North Babylon’s David Estrella and the Cougars’ Alec Kiernan are two of the best two-way players on Long Island.

Massapequa at Farmingdale, Saturday, 2 p.m.

A key contest between two 4-1 teams. Farmingdale’s big-play wide receiver, Antonio Smikle, has six touchdowns, but the team runs through quarterback Kevin McCormick, a dual threat to score. Massapequa’s Kenny Galvin has thrown for 10 scores. The game carries critical playoff implications.

Locust Valley at Seaford, Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

A Nassau IV battle of 4-1 teams that features Seaford quarterback Joe Angelastro, who has thrown for nine touchdowns. Locust Valley counters with halfback Ramel Phillips, who has rushed for 541 yards and five scores.

Shoreham-Wading River at Miller Place, Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

Sophomore quarterback Xavier Arline has thrown for 702 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Wildcats (5-0). Miller Place will look to stop Shoreham’s winning streak, the longest current streak in Suffolk, at 12 games.

THEPICKS

BOB HERZOG (28-12)

MacArthur

Farmingdale

Plainedge

Wantagh

Seaford

Floyd

Northport

North Babylon

Hauppauge

Shoreham-Wading River

ANDY SLAWSON (27-13)

Elmont

Farmingdale

Plainedge

Wantagh

Seaford

Floyd

Northport

Centereach

Islip

Shoreham-Wading River

GREGG SARRA (25-15)

MacArthur

Farmingdale

Plainedge

Wantagh

Seaford

Lindenhurst

Northport

Centereach

Islip

Shoreham-Wading River

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