Many traditions have grown at Freeport in the 34 seasons since Russ Cellan became head coach. The one the players love most is winning, but another favorite is removing the red “F’’ decal from their helmets at the end of the season as a keepsake.
Senior Arnold Cruz mounted the ones from his first two varsity seasons on the ceiling in his bedroom.
“They’re the first thing I see when I wake up,” he said. “It reminds you that you’re a part of something, a part of something special.”
Freeport definitely is something special. The Red Devils (11-0) will attempt to win their third Long Island championship in four seasons and seventh overall when they face Floyd (11-0) for the Class I title on Friday at Stony Brook. Freeport has won 23 games in a row, Long Island’s longest active winning streak.
The Red Devils’ offense is one of the most feared in Nassau or Suffolk but also is a statistical anomaly. There are approximately two dozen 1,000-yard rushers on Long Island this season, and not one of them plays for Freeport. And it’s not as if the Red Devils have a huge air attack; quarterback Terrance Edmond throws an average of less than five passes per game.
Cellan has a lot of weapons and he deploys them all. Three ballcarriers — Edmond and running backs Jayvien Allen and Mikhail Jinks — have double-digit touchdown runs. Edmond has rushed for 701 yards and Jinks has gained 671.
“It’s become a me-centered world. We don’t want a part of it,” Cellan said. “We never have guys talking about how many touches they got in a game.”
In Freeport’s 48-20 win over Massapequa in the Nassau Conference I semifinals, Allen got the ball on the Red Devils’ first snap and went 65 yards for a touchdown. He didn’t get another handoff the rest of the way. Edmond threw two passes, one of which went for a touchdown. Most games are like that.
“Why does it really matter if we’re winning? I mean, whatever gets the job done,” said Edmond, a senior. “And whatever we’ve been doing — if I throw two passes for 65 yards and a touchdown — that’s helping us win every week. I’ll take that.”
Sometimes that’s a matter of the score. The Devils often pile up points early and coast the rest of the way, with starters rested in the second half.
“Team success is more important,” said Allen, a junior. “I’d rather win and not get the ball than lose and get the ball 30 times.”
One time when it could make a difference is the awards season. It would take a certain kind of argument to recognize a Freeport player as a finer performer than someone else with twice as many rushing yards or twice as many touchdowns scored.
“We’re here to win championships — something that no one votes on,” Cellan said. “All-County? That’s opinions. When you win championships, there are no opinions and everybody gets a piece of it. . . . Our kids get it — they know why they’re here.”
“To win championships, we’re willing to sacrifice for each other,” senior Myles Norris said. “It’s the hallmark of the Red Devils brotherhood.”
Maybe no one player exemplifies self-sacrifice like Jinks. The senior was a running back in youth football and on the junior varsity, but when he was brought to the varsity, Cellan moved him to tackle. The reason: Freeport needed a tackle. The same thing happened in his second varsity season.
“When they asked a second time and said I could be a running back as a senior, I agreed because it was the best thing for the team,” Jinks said. “It was worth it for the team — we won the LIC. It turns out I love winning. And this year I’ve gotten to do it at running back.”
Freeport LIC Results
Year, Opponent, Result, Score
1997, Patchogue-Medford, lost, 27-12
2000, Commack, won, 20-19, OT
2003, Floyd, won, 40-7
2008, Connetquot, lost, 21-13
2009, Floyd, won, 38-14
2010, Floyd, won, 62-35
2016, Floyd, won, 28-16
2018, Floyd, won, 20-19