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Islip: Getting defensive

Defensive end Andrew Oberg of Islip during practice

Defensive end Andrew Oberg of Islip during practice drills. Photo Credit: Newsday / Bob Herzog

The weather got progressively worse on Thursday morning. A pesky drizzle turned into a wind-swept downpour. A reporter (me!) sought shelter. The Islip football players took the same approach they’ll take for the 2010 season: Bring it on.

The Buccaneers yelled enthusiastically and got down and dirty, finishing off the session with mud-splattering drills. It’s clear the only elements that concern Islip are its veteran defense and game-breaking offense.

“We’ve got eight starters back, so defense should be the strength of the team,” coach Jamie Lynch said. “We did team defensive drills on the first day of practice and everyone knew what they were doing.”

Andrew Oberg, a 6-6, 250-pound returning All-County two-way performer, is a force at defensive end. “He has great feet — he’s one of our best basketball players,” said Lynch, also the varsity hoops coach at Islip. “He weighed 230 pounds last year. He should be dominant this year and has some Division I teams looking at him.”

Lynch also cited defensive end John Aubel, linebackers Alex Gavilia, the team’s leading tackler in 2009, and Joe Sabbatino. “We’ve always been a defensive team, with multiple looks. We’ve got the athletes so we’ll blitz whenever we can.”

Offensively, Jeffrey Craig is a threat, whether he plays quarterback or tailback. He’s also an All-County player and Lynch called him, “the real deal.” Despite the slippery conditions Thursday, Craig showed quick feet during drills. “He’s a huge part of our offense and one of the most explosive kids in the county,” Lynch said. “He’s a double threat. He can run and he can throw.”

Joe Sciara, who missed seven games in 2009 with an injury, is another explosive two-way back, although the Buccaneers don’t expect to rely too heavily on their offense. “With our defense, if we can score 20 points a game, we’ll be pretty tough,” Lynch said.

And a little rain won’t bother them a bit.

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