If the vicious tackles he absorbed, which were audible over the roars of Miller Place's homecoming crowd, weren't indicative enough, Jake Buonaiuto's shredded jersey certainly was.
Against this caliber of defense, Buonaiuto knew it was going to be that kind of day.
Between his second and third touchdown runs Saturday in Miller Place's 28-7 victory over Islip, the senior running back had nearly half of his No. 7 jersey ripped off. Islip center Cobi Rose issued the final tear, but it was more of a gradual erosion, the result of Islip's swarming defense on Buonaiuto as he continued to carry the ball again and again.
He called the jersey tear a "battle wound."
"I'm going to have to have it stitched up or something," Buonaiuto said.
Buonaiuto spent a good part of the game braking tackles, juking defenders and finding holes while rushing for 170 yards on 32 carries.
"He's the bell cow of this offense," Miller place coach Ron Petrie said. "Unfortunately, Andrew Bailey is out for a few weeks, who also would get a lot of touches. Jake knows he's going to handle the ball 30 times a game now, and he's up for the challenge. He ran hard today."
Both Miller Place and Islip moved to 6-1 in Suffolk Division III.
For how good Islip's defense has looked -- it entered the game limiting opponents to just 11 points a game this season -- it stumbled out of the gate Saturday. Miller Place drove swiftly down the field on each of its first two drives, both culminating in rushing touchdowns by Buonaiuto.
"I think early on in the first quarter, I think we were winning the battle up front and that kind of set the tone to get the early scores," Petrie said.
Islip forced punts on all three of Miller Place's possessions in the second quarter, and a 17-yard run by Michael St. Lewis cut Islip's deficit to 14-7 at halftime.
But a fumble recovery by Kevin Kelleher on a kickoff with 6:06 left in the third quarter gave Miller Place the ball immediately following the Steven Farrell to Kyle O'Connor touchdown completion that made it 21-7.
Farrell completed 9 of 17 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown.
"I think he's coming into his own," Buonaiuto said of Farrell. "At the beginning of the season, it was a little rough, but now he's starting to learn. He's going to be real good."
Aside from a 56-20 thrashing at the hands of first-place Sayville on Oct. 2, Miller Place has looked dominant on defense this season, holding opponents to 8.3 points in the six other games.
"You take out the Sayville game, and we've really played well," Petrie said. "We've played great defense all year for the most part and we knew coming in that it was going to be the tell of the tale with this game. If we could stop their run game and put them in long yardage situations where they had to throw the ball, that would play into our hands."