Familiar teams, unfamiliar circumstances.
That's the story line in Nassau III where two teams -- Lawrence and Roosevelt -- that have appeared in each of the last four Long Island Championships will oppose each other in the first round of the playoffs.
It's a rare occurrence, the result of Roosevelt moving up from Conference IV to Conference III this season because of increased enrollment. The Rough Riders lost the last four Class IV Long Island championship games, twice as a No. 1 seed. Lawrence has won the last three Class III title games and appeared in the last four, three times as a top seed.
They met in the Sept. 12 opener, where Roosevelt announced that it belonged in the higher class by routing host Lawrence, 44-14. Since then, it's been an uneven season for both teams. No. 5 seed Roosevelt (5-3) was upset by No. 6 North Shore last week, ending a three-game winning streak. No. 4 Lawrence (4-4) won last week to end a two-game losing streak. Roosevelt is the host tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. in what figures to be a much closer contest.
As usual, the Rough Riders feature a top-flight running back, Brentwood transfer Jude Innocent. He has rushed for 1,494 yards and scored 21 touchdowns. The young Golden Tornadoes finally ran out of Fredericks brothers (Ryan, Tyler and Jordan) and are led by Marquan Williams, who has rushed for 761 yards and 13 touchdowns.
No. 5 Massapequa (4-4) at No. 4 Syosset (5-3), Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
Syosset is the defending Long Island Class I champion and, though inconsistent at times, still has quarterback Will Hogan (1,751 yards passing, 18 TDs) and wide receiver Mike Elardo (47 catches, 779 yards, six TDs). Massapequa lost its top two quarterbacks to injuries, but converted wide receiver Justin Lyskey played well in season-ending losses to Oceanside and Farmingdale. Syosset won a regular-season thriller, 40-39, on Sept. 19 on Cameron Biegel's 24-yard field goal on the final play. Expect another tight one.
No. 7 New Hyde Park (5-3) at Carey (6-2), Friday, 2 p.m.
Carey has won the last two Long Island Conference II titles and had a 25-game win streak snapped on Sept. 19 by Garden City. The Seahawks should extend their four-game winning streak, led by Michael Catanese, who has thrown for 1,261 yards and 13 touchdowns.
No. 5 Ward Melville (5-3) at No. 4 Connetquot (5-3), Friday, 7 p.m.
Connetquot's Jack Cassidy has thrown for 1,302 yards and nine TDs. Ward Melville's Matt O'Hea has 14 TD passes. These evenly matched teams have solid running games and finished strong. The under-the-radar Patriots won four of their last five; the Thunderbirds won three of their last four.
No. 6 Commack (5-3) at No. 3 Northport (5-3), Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
Northport finished on a two-game losing streak but is dangerous with running backs Rob Dosch and Dan Preston. Commack is led by the dynamic Augie Contressa, who has scored 14 touchdowns and rushed for 987 yards. This looks like it will be a close game that won't be decided until the fourth quarter.
No. 6 Westhampton (4-4) at No. 3 Kings Park (6-2), Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
Sophomore sensation Dylan Laube leads Westhampton with 812 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns. He has also caught 26 passes for 423 yards. But is that enough against experienced Kings Park, driven by quarterback Paul Cooper? He has thrown for 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns, and added 763 yards rushing with five more TDs.
No. 5 Miller Place (5-3) at No. 4 Eastport-South Manor (7-1), Friday, 6 p.m.
Eastport-South Manor had a breakout season as a No. 12 seed, winning its first seven games before losing last week to Kings Park. High-scoring Miller Place is another difficult test for Nick Garone (1,266 yards rushing, 12 TDs) and the Sharks. The Panthers have size and big-play quarterback Stephen Farrell.
No. 8 Mercy vs. No. 1 Shoreham-Wading River, Saturday, 2 p.m. at Miller Place
Shoreham-Wading River is the defending Long Island Class IV champ and should extend the Island's longest current winning streak of 20 games. The Wildcats have allowed only 47 total points. Standout safety Chris Rosati also leads the offense with 1,126 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns.