Change is good and in this case it’s exciting. There is a buzz in Oceanside, Westhampton and Miller Place as those football programs will make their first appearance in the Long Island Championships.
“It’s all about the LIC,” said Oceanside coach Rob Blount, whose team will compete for the LI Class I title. “It’s the pinnacle of high school football on Long Island. Our schools don’t participate in the state championship tournament, so this is our Super Bowl.”
The Long Island Championships started in 1992 and 56 schools have made at least one appearance with 43 different teams claiming at least one title. Suffolk teams hold a 56-44 edge in the all-time Nassau-Suffolk series, the brainchild of then football chairmen Bill Piner of Section VIII and Nick Schroeder of Section XI.
“We have an outstanding student section and community base of fans, whether it’s home or away, they come to support us,” Blount said. “We’ll have a great turnout.”
Undefeated Oceanside will have five spectator buses ready to roll on Sunday for its Class I title game against Lindenhurst at 4:30 p.m. at Stony Brook University.
They’re equally excited in Miller Place where the Panthers will play Seaford in hopes of winning their first LI Class IV crown Friday at noon at Hofstra University.
“We’re still practicing this week, including Thanksgiving morning, so that in itself is a big deal,” said Miller Place coach Greg Murphy. “Our football program has always been on the cusp of something big. But winning the Suffolk title and getting the opportunity to play in the LIC is incredible for our program and community and the excitement and awareness is at another level.”
Miller Place vs. Seaford, Class IV, Friday, noon, Hofstra University
Seaford (9-2) makes its eighth trip to the Class IV final. The Vikings are on a five-game win streak and avenged both losses this season with playoff victories over Locust Valley and previously undefeated Cold Spring Harbor. Their last title came in 2009 with a 34-20 win over Amityville. The Vikings run behind backs Joe Angelastro, Tyler Volpi and Nick Calandra. Miller Place (10-1) is on a seven-game win streak and knocked off three-time defending Class IV champ Babylon with a 28-0 semifinal win. Quarterback Anthony Seymour has thrown for 1,503 yards and 21 touchdowns and only two interceptions. His favorite target is Suffolk’s leading receiver Tom Nealis with 836 yards and 12 touchdowns.
North Babylon vs. Garden City, Class II, Friday, 4:30 p.m., Hofstra University
Garden City (11-0) is on Long Island’s longest current win streak at 23 games. The Trojans are also the defending Class II champions. They win with defense led by Andrew DeSantis on a unit that has allowed only six points per game. The offense rolls with halfback Trevor Yeboah-Kodie who has 1,167 yards rushing and 26 touchdowns. North Babylon (10-1) runs and runs behind halfback David Estrella, who has 1,938 yards and 26 touchdowns. The Bulldogs and Trojans are familiar foes. They’ve each won six LIC titles and split the four times they’ve met.
Lawrence vs. Westhampton, Class III, Sunday, noon, Stony Brook University
Two high-octane offenses square off for the Class III title. Westhampton (11-0) averages 41 points per game and has Dylan Laube, Long Island’s leading rusher, who has 2,453 yards rushing and 41 total touchdowns. The Hurricanes are making their first appearance against a Lawrence program and heads to the LIC for the 10th time. The Golden Tornadoes have a dual threat in Chris Collier, who has 1,513 yards and 21 touchdowns and Christian Fredericks, who has over 1,300 all-purpose yards.
Oceanside vs. Lindenhurst, Class I, Sunday, 4:30 p.m., Stony Brook University
Two undefeated teams collide for the Class I crown. Oceanside quarterback Tom Heuer has had an incredible season with 2,661 yards passing, 36 touchdowns and two interceptions on the way to an 11-0 season. The Sailors have a quality receiving corps in Jake Lazzaro, Derek Cruz, Dylan Judd and Bernie Diaz. Lindenhurst (11-0) counters with quarterback Nick Anzalone, who has thrown for 1,822 yards, 21 touchdowns and five interceptions. Bulldogs receiver Jeremy Ruckert has 732 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns and halfback Ricky Conway has 802 yards rushing and 17 scores.