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Football Preview: Four hot teams will collide in Suffolk II semifinals

Half Hollow Hills East players celebrate their come

Half Hollow Hills East players celebrate their come from behind win over Huntington in the Suffolk II quarterfinals on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. Credit: Bob Sorensen

His clothes were soaked from the traditional Gatorade dump and the sun was down, but Half Hollow Hills East coach Mike Maratto shook off the chill last Saturday and basked in the football program’s first playoff win in the 61 years of the program.

“There isn’t much time to celebrate the achievement because we have to get ready for the next opponent,” Maratto said. “But it certainly feels good to do something historical, something never done before at the school. I’m proud of these guys and what they’ve accomplished.”

Hills East had come back from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to beat Huntington, 14-10, and advance to this Saturday’s Suffolk II semifinal round at top-seeded West Islip at 1 p.m. The attention is now squarely upon West Islip, a team they’d beaten, 13-6, just three weeks ago, on the strength of a Jared Trefny 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and two field goals from sophomore Brandon Peskin.

“Nothing is easy in this division but you have to find a way,” said Maratto, whose team at 8-1 set a school record for wins in a season.

He may be right. For the first time since the inception of the Suffolk football playoffs in 1972, three teams with impressive 8-1 records advanced to the semifinal round in one division. Ironically, West Islip, the preseason No. 2 seed, is only 7-2 but earned the top seed in the power rankings because of strength of schedule.

Centereach and North Babylon are also 8-1 and will square off in the other semifinal Saturday at 1 p.m.

Centereach earned its first playoff win in 48 years of football. The Cougars beat Bay Shore, 37-14, and they too, set a school record for wins in a season.

Moving beyond the semifinal round against two of the gridiron giants at West Islip and North Babylon will be no easy task. West Islip quarterback Mike LaDonna has rushed for 779 yards and 11 touchdowns and the defense did not yield an offensive touchdown to Hills East during the regular season.

West Islip is still smarting over its 38-20 loss to Half Hollow Hills West in last year’s final. The Lions have been to the Suffolk title game five times since 1994 and lost in all five appearances. You can be sure they have enough bulletin board fodder to motivate them to get back to the final.

North Babylon hasn’t played for the county crown since 2012. And the Bulldogs last title came in 2009. They boast one of Long Island’s top players in halfback David Estrella. He’s carried 201 times for 1,560 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Will the magic continue for either Centereach or Half Hollow Hills East this week or does the greatest of runs end for both teams?

Garden City vs. Calhoun, at Hofstra University, 4 p.m. Garden City (9-0) has dominated Nassau Conference II as the starting defense has allowed only two touchdowns this season. The Trojans have Long Island’s longest current win streak at 21 and look to qualify for the county final for the 31st time in the past 36 years. Halfback Trevor Yeboah-Kodie paces the defending LI Class II champions with 738 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns.

Oceanside vs. Farmingdale, at Hofstra University, Saturday, 5 p.m. This Nassau I matchup features two of the top quarterbacks on Long Island. Oceanside’s Tommy Heuer has thrown for 2,319 yards, 34 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Farmingdale’s Kevin McCormick has passed for 915 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions. Oceanside won, 34-24, during the season.

Roosevelt vs. Wantagh, Saturday, 10 a.m. Wantagh, the defending Long Island Class II champion, will have to stop halfback Kevon Hall, who has 1,957 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns. The Warriors beat Roosevelt, 22-12, this season.

Sayville at Half Hollow Hills West, Saturday, 1 p.m. Sayville quarterback Jacob Cheshire threw for 436 yards and four touchdowns in a 40-27 win over Hills West in Suffolk III this season. The Colts defense needs to pressure Cheshire for a shot to win. The addition of Colts halfback Devon Wright, who did not play in the first meeting, will have an impact.

West Babylon at Westhampton, Friday, 6 p.m. These teams did not meet in the Suffolk III regular season. The Eagles know they have to contain Westhampton halfback Dylan Laube, who has 2,067 yards rushing and 33 touchdowns.

Iona Prep at St. Anthony’s, Friday, 7 p.m. St. Anthony’s is the top seed in a highly competitive final four in the CHSFL AAA division. The Friars beat Iona, 14-7, in the third week of the season. This semifinal promises to have more scoring with Iona quarterback Derek Robertson, 2,629 yards and St. Anthony’s quarterback Greg Campisi who had 1,659 yards passing and nine scores.

GREGG SARRA (52-28)

Oceanside

Massapequa

Garden City

Mepham

Lawrence

Wantagh

Cold Spring Harbor

Locust Valley

Lindenhurst

Floyd

West Islip

Centereach

Westhampton

Sayville

Babylon

Miller Place

Iona Prep

Kellenberg

Xaverian

BOB HERZOG (48-32)

Oceanside

Freeport

Garden City

Mepham

Bethpage

Roosevelt

Cold Spring Harbor

Locust Valley

Lindenhurst

Floyd

West Islip

North Babylon

Westhampton

Half Hollow Hills West

Babylon

Shoreham-Wading River

St. Anthony’s

Kellenberg

St. Dominic

ANDY SLAWSON (51-29)

Oceanside

Massapequa

Garden City

Mepham

Lawrence

Roosevelt

Cold Spring Harbor

Seaford

Lindenhurst

Floyd

West Islip

North Babylon

Westhampton

Sayville

Babylon

Miller Place

St. Anthony’s

Kellenberg

Xaverian

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