Freeport needed to have the ball in its possession for only 55 seconds on Saturday to prove that it was in peak form.
Justin Lescouflair returned a punt 23 yards for a touchdown, and after Uniondale fumbled the ensuing kickoff, Jayvian Allen ran Freeport’s second play for a 2-yard touchdown. Terrance Edmond then took the Red Devils’ next play 92 yards for a touchdown, giving Freeport a three-score lead before a minute had been played.
The Red Devils cruised from there, defeating Uniondale, 41-13, at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium to advance to next weekend’s Nassau Conference I championship game against Oceanside.
“You can’t start slow,” Allen said. “You can’t let them hang around.”
With so much team speed, it’s almost physically impossible for Freeport (10-0) to do anything slowly. Because so many players can make plays in open space, coach Russ Cellan rotates several players into games.
Ten players totaled 348 rushing yards, led by Edmond’s 119 yards on six carries. Allen rushed eight times for 84 yards and two touchdowns, and Ju’juan Warren also ran for two touchdowns.
Allen credited offensive linemen Makhai Jinks, Gerard Smikle, Jaden Richardson, Jaiden Jackson and Myles Norris for creating holes to run through.
“You’re not going to see any of our guys in any of the scoring leaders or in any of the rushing leaders because we spread the ball around, and they’re OK with it,” Cellan said. “I think that’s really one of the things that’s helped us. They’re such an unselfish group. Whoever’s number is called, they’re fine with it.”
Warren’s 3-yard rushing touchdown with just over two minutes remaining in the first quarter increased Freeport’s lead to 27-0 after the missed extra point.
Rolando Meyers-Turner answered for Uniondale (6-5), keeping on the quarterback option for a 17-yard touchdown.
He scored again on a similar play in the fourth quarter and finished with 113 yards on 15 carries. Josh Grubbs (six tackles) and Arnold Cruz (five) were key in containing him.
“You can’t let a team like that with athletes hang around,” Edmonds said, crediting the defense. “You have to throw 11 hats to the ball every single time.”
The defense will be tested against an Oceanside offense that scored 62 points in its win over Farmingdale in the other Nassau Conference I semifinal. The championship game will feature contrasting offenses — Oceanside is pass-first and Freeport is run-first — which will create an interesting dynamic.
Cellan said he didn’t adjust the defense for Meyers-Turner, a top Nassau athlete who potentially can turn any touch into a long gain, and said he won’t make wholesale adjustments for Oceanside, either.
“They’re very familiar with us and we’re very familiar with them,” Cellan said. “It’s just two different philosophies. They both work. We’re both in the county final. This is no time to change.”
So expect Freeport to use its speed in an attempt to burn the Oceanside defense.
Said Allen: “If you play with fire, you get burnt, as coach Cellan says a lot.”