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Hills West prepared to host Sayville in key early-season Division III game

Hills West is led by QB Gerard Filardi; Sayville relies on QB Brock Murtha

Half Hollow Hills West's Gerald Filardi

Half Hollow Hills West's Gerald Filardi  Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Kyle Madden said it. The Half Hollow Hills West head coach, known for his high-scoring offenses, muttered the word, ‘defense’. He really did!

He didn’t shout it, but he admitted this week’s showdown with perennial playoff contender Sayville was going to be as much about the defensive units as scoring points.

And this coming from a coach who has arguably the most explosive offense on Long Island. A Hills West team that brings back a host of players that compiled more than 4,000 yards in total offense in 2018.

“This one is going to be different,” Madden said. “This isn’t going to be one of those wild offensive shootouts where we go back and forth and keep scoring. We as coaches lose our minds when we can’t stop anyone on defense. We have put an emphasis on getting athletes on defense and stopping people.”        

Sayville (1-0) travels to Hills West (1-0) for a pivotal Suffolk Division III game Saturday at 1 p.m. Two traditionally strong programs that have continually shattered school scoring records over the past decade can also play defense.

“We’re a much more athletic defense,” Madden said. “We run to the ball so much better. I honestly think our defense is good.”

Sayville also has a fast and physical defense led by defensive end Aidan Kaler.

“Kaler is such an impact player and he could have 39 tackles against us,” Madden said. “He’s all over the field. And Sayville is disciplined and well coached.”

Hills West QB Gerald Filardi will operate out of the wing-T but switch to the spread at times. He’ll have a trio of elusive backs in Justin Brown, Deyvon Wright and Sadig Hinds.

“We’re going to score our points,” Madden said. “And Sayville has an athletic quarterback that makes big plays. And we’ll have to focus on him.”

Sayville QB Brock Murtha, who’s committed to play baseball at Notre Dame, is the wild card in this game. He’s an extremely good athlete with a cannon for an arm.

“It starts with Murtha,” Madden said. “When things break down for them, he makes good things happen. That’s when he’s dangerous. Can you believe I’m still talking defense?”

Northport at Lindenhurst, Friday, 6 p.m.: Ryan Smith and Max Napoli made special teams, well, special in the season opener for Northport. Both players returned kicks for touchdowns against Hills East which definitely grabbed the attention of the folks in Lindenhurst. The Bulldogs roll behind a sturdy offensive line and swarming defense led by linebacker Dean Morreale and end Will Ruckert. Lindy QB Mike Varela passed for 195 yards and three scores in the season-opening win. This is a showdown between teams that moved down from Division I.

Port Washington at Plainview OB-JFK, Saturday, 2 p.m.: Port Washington is looking for a school record 11th straight win. The Vikings won the Hudson Valley Conference last year and earned a 19-0 win over Hempstead in this year’s opener. Plainview-OB JFK took out Hicksville, 21-14.

St. Anthony’s at Chaminade, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.: CHSFL AAA rivalry between two teams that earned season-opening victories. Matchup features Friars QB Greg Campisi, who passed for 336 yards and touchdowns of 76, 66 and 82 yards, last week against a Chaminade defense that scored three touchdowns, including a Pick-Six, in an opening win. St. Anthony’s has won 23 of last 24 in this rivalry.

Plainedge at Bethpage, Saturday, 2 p.m.: A backyard brawl that features two of the top playoff programs in Nassau III. These games promise hard hitting, emotion and bragging rights on the south shore of the Town of Oyster Bay. A win here sets the tone for the season.

Babylon at Glenn, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.: A gritty Suffolk IV rivalry that could be a preview of the divisional title game. Glenn has offensive balance in QB Kyle Szokoli, who threw for 155 yards and two scores and HB Justin Tiernan, who rushed for 137 yards and three scores last week. Babylon’s defense recorded 12 sacks a week ago.

Staff picks

GREGG SARRA (9-1)

Whitman

Lindenhurst

Miller Place

Carey

Plainedge

Locust Valley

Ward Melville

North Babylon

HHH West

Babylon

ROGER RUBIN (9-1)

Whitman

Lindenhurst

Kings Park

Calhoun

Bethpage

Locust Valley

Ward Melville

North Babylon

HHH West

Babylon

ANDY SLAWSON (9-1)

Sachem North

Lindenhurst

Miller Place

Calhoun

Bethpage

Locust Valley

Ward Melville

North Babylon

HHH West

Babylon

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