The football programs at Babylon and Glenn have separated themselves from the pack in Suffolk IV. The two have combined to win five of the last six Long Island championships. And over the last six seasons, they've been anointed the top two seeds in the division by the coaches in the preseason poll.
Babylon owns Long Island's longest current win streak at 24. The Panthers have won back-to-back Long Island Class IV titles and earned the coveted Rutgers Trophy, given to Suffolk's top team. The Panthers may have finally come to the end of a glorious era as heavy graduation leaves little experience. They are still seeded at No. 2 because that's the kind of respect opposing coaches have for Rick Punzone's program.
"I felt they should have been the No. 1 seed," Glenn coach Dave Shanahan said. "They have great players and coaches and they're going to be very, very good. They're our rival."
Co-captains Ryan Matthews and Joe Cosby will lead the young Panthers attack. "We've got to be more focused and not get down on ourselves," said Cosby, a defensive tackle and offensive guard. "Our line is one of the more athletic lines in the division."
Punzone said this year's line has a chance to make a name for itself and give the program a shot at another title. Taking out top-seeded Glenn will be a task.
"They've played together for so long and there is a lot of continuity there, which is very important," Punzone said. "It's up to this group to . . . follow the tradition and keep it going."
Glenn will stand in the way with quarterback Wayne White and a glut of top receivers, including Mike Mannix and T.J. Tiernan. And no one can discount third-seeded Shoreham-Wading River, which won a school-record seven games last year. The Wildcats will lean on their most experienced player, Danny Hughes, to make plays in and out of the pocket, looking down field for the speedy Isreal Squires.