The school is abuzz, the community wants more, and Carey football coach Mike Stanley is soaking in all the accolades.
"It's hard to get away from because it's so exciting here in our community," said Stanley, who guided the Seahawks to a 20-16 comeback win over four-time Nassau II champion Garden City. "It was a special win last week and now we turn the page and try to do something never done before."
Carey (11-0), boasting a high-scoring offense and stingy defense, will try to earn its first Long Island Class II title when it faces Riverhead (10-1) at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium Friday at 4:30 p.m.
Riverhead, an explosive offensive unit, will be without one of Long Island's most dangerous halfbacks in Jeremiah Cheatom.
"He's academically ineligible and can't play," Riverhead coach Leif Shay said of his star, who has 1,742 yards and 18 touchdowns. "People are going to get a glimpse of the future with our sophomore Ryan Moore. He's a special player. And we're looking at time of possession and controlling the clock in this one."
Carey is a scoring machine led by quarterback Ray Catapano, who has 35 touchdown passes, only three interceptions and 2,071 yards passing. The Seahawks trailed for the first time all season in the fourth quarter of the Nassau final before Catapano led the winning touchdown drive.
"Ray's poise and mental toughness was the key to the win," Stanley said. "And our whole team showed such resilience. To beat Riverhead, we have to play pitch and catch and keep them from sustaining any time-consuming drives."
Shay, who has led Riverhead to four Suffolk titles in the past 11 years, knows the key to victory lies with his defense. "Carey is so well-coached and they don't make mistakes," he said. "We need pressure on the quarterback. They have athletes on the perimeter, but it all starts with [Catapano]. If he sits back there with time, he'll pick us apart."
He's done that all year. Riverhead hopes the LIC will be different.