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High school football playoff preview: Massapequa-Freeport, North Shore-Plainedge highlight county semifinals

John Giller #2 of Massapequa throws a touchdown

John Giller #2 of Massapequa throws a touchdown pass against Farmingdale on Saturday, Oct 12, 2019. Credit: Steven Ryan

The Massapequa and North Shore football programs have had outstanding seasons. Both will look back and relish in the many successes of 2019.

The semifinal round of the high school playoffs is upon them.

And they are scheduled to face off against what is arguably the two best programs on Long Island, in their respective classifications.

Sooner or later all roads lead through Freeport in Class I and Plainedge in Class III to win a Long Island championship.

Massapequa (7-2) will meet Freeport (9-0) at Hofstra University in a Nassau Conference I game at 4 p.m. Thursday. North Shore (8-1) will take on Plainedge (9-0) at Hofstra University in a Nassau Conference III game at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Neither Freeport nor Plainedge has been tested this season. Both have steamrolled their respective conferences with little resistance, each winning by lopsided scores. Freeport is averaging 42 points per game and has won all nine games by at least four touchdowns, including a 49-13 demolition of Massapequa. Plainedge also averages 42 points per game and has won all nine games by at least three touchdowns. The Red Devils did not play North Shore this season.

Despite the mountain to climb — they go into this week’s contests filled with optimism.

“It’s been a special season for our guys,” North Shore coach Dan Agovino said. “And now we play Plainedge. And they’ve set the bar for everyone. We know what’s in front of us. We’ll take it one play at a time. I believe in our guys. And a win can take our program to the next level.”

The last time North Shore won a semifinal game was in 1993. The Vikings then lost in the Conference IV title game to Bethpage.

Senior Andrew Franco, a two-way lineman, has been a force defensively along with junior end Aiden Mandell and senior middle linebacker Jacob Gatcke, playing in his first year of football. The Vikings only allow seven points per game.

“We respect them tremendously and need to limit their possessions,” Agovino said. “We need to be physical up front and tend to the smaller things to win this game.”

Massapequa will also need to care of the ball and keep the high scoring Freeport offense off the field. Quarterback John Giller has been outstanding while throwing for 14 touchdowns, 1,150 yards and only one interception. Wide receiver Alex Rende is his go-to guy with eight TDs.

Nassau I

Farmingdale (7-2) vs. Oceanside (7-2), Thursday, Hofstra University, 7:30 p.m.: The Dalers beat Oceanside in a wild one during the regular season, 43-36, in Week 2. The Farmingdale offense can score through the air with quarterback Nick Lundin or on the ground with halfback Kevin Wilson. The Sailors air it out with sophomore quarterback Charlie McKee and wide receiver Nick Platia, who has 60 receptions. McKee has 2,408 yards passing and 23 TDs.

Nassau III

South Side (8-1) vs. Wantagh (7-2), Friday, 4 p.m.: South Side scored two fourth quarter touchdowns for the 27-24 comeback win over Wantagh in the mid-season. Cyclones quarterback William Pickett is a dual threat with 1,085 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. He’s also thrown for 14 scores and one interception. Wantagh’s backfield tandem of Nick Teresky (13 TDs) and Tom Von Bargen (9 TDs) are a solid 1-2 punch.  

Suffolk I

Longwood (7-2) at Sachem East (7-2), Friday, 6 p.m.: Sachem East beat Longwood 7-0 earlier this season but the Lions played without a slew of key players. With quarterback Noah Rattmer back in the lineup in front of Anele Nwanyanwu (1,174 yards, 16 TDs) and a stout O-line, the Lions will be a tough out. Sachem East has allowed a division-low 11 points per game behind Jason Bruno, Ryan Micheli, Mark Kmiotek and Ryan Paolella.

Suffolk II

North Babylon (7-2) at West Islip (7-2), Friday, 6 p.m.: Similar styles wherein both teams have aggressive run games and like to ground-n-pound. North Babylon beat then Lions in the regular-season finale, 35-21. Can West Islip avenge that loss?

Suffolk III

East Islip (7-2) at Westhampton (8-1), Friday, 6 p.m.: The two top defensive units in a battle for a spot in the title game. Westhampton LB Shavar Coffey and company need to stop quarterback Brandon Miller, who has school records with 23 TD passes and 1,622 yards passing. East Islip’s defense needs to stop halfback Jaden AlfanoStJohn, who has 1,465 and 22 TDs.

CHSFL AA-I

Chaminade (7-2) vs. Kellenberg (6-3), Mitchel Athletic Complex, Saturday, 5:30 p.m.: The top two rushers face off in the title game. Chaminade halfback Mario Fischetti has 1,393 yards and 21 TDs. Firebirds halfback Jordan DeLucia has a league leading 1,669 yards rushing and 22 TDs.

THIS WEEK'S PICKS

Gregg Sarra (88-30)

Freeport

Farmingdale

Plainedge

Wantagh

Longwood

Centereach

North Babylon

Sayville

Westhampton

Mount Sinai

Shoreham-Wading River

MacArthur

Garden City

Seaford

Clarke

Floyd

Kellenberg

ANDY SLAWSON (88-30)

Freeport

Farmingdale

Plainedge

Wantagh

Sachem East

Lindenhurst

North Babylon

Sayville

East Islip

Mount Sinai

Shoreham-Wading River

MacArthur

Garden City

Seaford

Cold Spring Harbor

Floyd

Kellenberg

ROGER RUBIN (90-28)

Freeport

Farmingdale

Plainedge

South Side

Sachem East

Lindenhurst

West Islip

Sayville

Westhampton

Mount Sinai

Shoreham-Wading River

MacArthur

Garden City

Seaford

Cold Spring Harbor

Floyd

Chaminade

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