This championship day in the fall had its roots in the winter and the summer.
Top-seeded, undefeated Massapequa earned a convincing 33-7 win over fifth-seeded Syosset in the Nassau Conference I championship game on Friday night at Shuart Stadium, but it began long before that.
“It starts with the 30 seniors, 100%,” coach Kevin Shippos said. “It started in the winter workouts [and continued] throughout the summer. We had unbelievable dedication to our summer program by our seniors. It all starts and stops with them. I’m clearly happy for them.
“I’m a big believer in the only thing you deserve is what you earn, and this team has earned everything that they’ve got this year.”
This marked the third county title in four seasons for Massapequa (11-0) and the ninth overall.
“It means everything,” junior quarterback Joey Diesso said. “I’ve been dreaming about this day since I was 8 years old, since I started playing football.”
Massapequa, which lost to Farmingdale in last year’s Nassau I final, will face Suffolk Division I champion Floyd, a 26-9 winner over Sachem North, in the Long Island Class I championship game at noon on Friday at Shuart Stadium.
“The job’s not finished,” Diesso said after going 7-for-12 for 136 yards and two TDs.
Senior Mike DeLuca turned a pass from Diesso into a 51-yard touchdown reception and rushed 11 times for 120 yards, including a 55-yard score.
“It’s finally starting to show that people are taking notice on how skilled he is,” Diesso said.
The tone was established on the first drive. DeLuca ran three times for 45 yards, Tyler Villalta carried it in from the 3 and it was 6-0 just 1:46 in.
“I think we have the best offense on the Island,” Diesso said.
Later in that first quarter, Diesso hit DeLuca over the middle at the Syosset 37. DeLuca turned it into a 51-yard score, and it was a 13-0 game.
Syosset quarterback Mustafa Mozawalla, who ran for 111 yards and threw for 63 before leaving in the third quarter with a knee injury on a non-contact play, was stopped just short on fourth-and-1 from the Massapequa 46 early in the second quarter. On the next play, DeLuca ran 55 yards for his second touchdown.
Villalta then delivered a 15-yard touchdown run, and it was 27-0.
“I felt we were dominating in the first half,” DeLuca said. “We had a lot of energy. We were all doing our jobs.”
Syosset (7-4) scored on an 11-yard burst by William Cawley, so the margin was 20 at halftime.
Diesso connected with Ryan Wieczorek for a 27-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“Listen, they didn’t go without losing a game by accident,” Syosset coach Paul Rorke said. “They were good. But we didn’t play particularly well in the first quarter and a half. We made some critical mistakes and didn’t execute.”