Meet the Sack Exchange of Dix Hills.
Omar Smith, Cherrod White, Jimmy Regateiro and Joe Venezia totaled seven sacks and repeatedly flushed Sayville quarterback Jacob Cheshire from the pocket as Half Hollow Hills West downed the Golden Flashes, 37-6, Saturday in a Suffolk III semifinal playoff game.
The defensive pressure forced four turnovers and never allowed the vaunted Sayville offense, averaging 30 points per game, to get into a rhythm.
Hills West (8-2) will meet Westhampton (10-0) in the Suffolk III championship at Stony Brook University at noon on Saturday.
Hills West will be making its fourth straight appearance in a championship game. The Colts were in Suffolk II the past three years before dropping in enrollment and moving into Suffolk III this season.
Westhampton went on the road to beat Hills West, 33-7, earlier this season.
“We made defensive adjustments and moved some guys around into different positions this week,” Hills West coach Kyle Madden said. “We needed pressure on the quarterback, so he couldn’t sit and throw.”
Cheshire picked apart the Colts secondary in a 40-27 win earlier this season. He threw for 436 yards and four touchdowns. Saturday was much different as Cheshire completed 9 of 14 passes for 71 yards. His longest completion was 19 yards as he could never get comfortable in the pocket.
Sayville had no answer for the speed of Smith, who was moved from linebacker to nose tackle. He recorded 3 1⁄2 sacks and burst through the offensive front on numerous plays to harass Cheshire.
And when Cheshire was able to elude Smith, he was being hit by sophomore tackle Joe Venezia, who had two sacks, and White at linebacker, who had 1 1⁄2.
“Our defense was relentless and it was the best game they played all season,” Hills West quarterback Gerald Filardi Jr. said. “They gave us a short field the entire first half and we capitalized on some turnovers.”
The Colts opened the scoring when speedy halfback Justin Brown burst through the middle of the Sayville defense and went 60 yards for the touchdown with 5:37 left in the first quarter for a 6-0 lead.
Sayville (6-4) took advantage of a short punt for its lone score.
The Golden Flashes went 35 yards in four plays before junior wide receiver Brock Murtha caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Cheshire to tie it at 6.
Hills West responded on its next possession. The Colts regained the lead when Filardi hit Brown in stride on a wheel route for 46 yards and a touchdown for a 13-6 first quarter lead.
“He was wide open behind the secondary and I had to get it there,” Filardi said. “I knew was a score when I let the pass go.”
Hills West never looked back.
Smith flattened Cheshire for two of his sacks on the next drive and a short Sayville punt set up the Colts at the Golden Flashes’ 37.
“Filardi is an excellent game manager,” Madden said. “He had us in manageable down and distance all game. And I thought Deyvon Wright ran with a purpose today. He was getting yards after contact on every run.”
Wright did just about all the work on the 37-yard drive, rushing for 29 yards on six carries before Filardi scored on a quarterback sneak for the 20-6 lead.
Filardi would be the architect of six scoring drives in eight possessions through the third quarter. He completed five of nine passes for 89 yards. Wright would finish with 139 yards on 23 carries and two third-quarter touchdowns and Brown had 71 yards on six carries.
But Filardi wanted to recognize the defense.
“Jimmy Regateiro is such a leader in the trenches,” Filardi said. “And those guys go unnoticed sometimes.”
Regateiro had five solo tackles and two assists and led a defense that allowed 99 total yards of offense. They shut down the Sayville running game, allowing minus-2 yards on 26 carries.
“The turning point in our season came after our loss to Sayville in week five,” Madden said. “Since then everyone is all in and we’re playing unselfish football.”