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LIC Class I: Lindenhurst ready for Oceanside in battle of undefeateds

Lindenhurst's Will Ruckert reacts after he sacks William

Lindenhurst's Will Ruckert reacts after he sacks William Floyd quarterback Robert Taiani in the Suffolk Division I football final at LaValle Stadium Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The memories are vivid for Ricky Conway.

Three years ago, the senior halfback played in Lindenhurst’s first Long Island Class I championship game.

The experience was memorable. The game was not. Lindenhurst took it on the chin in a 35-13 loss to Syosset.

“It was incredible to get there,” said Conway, who led the Bulldogs with 802 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns on 132 carries this season. “It didn’t end the way we planned, but the experience should help us this year.”

Lindenhurst (11-0) finished an undefeated Suffolk I campaign with a 35-12 victory over Floyd last week for the school’s second title in three years. The Bulldogs will meet Oceanside (11-0) for the Long Island Class I crown at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium.

Conway sealed the Bulldogs’ title win with a 59-yard touchdown run that was a microcosm of his season. The speedy halfback broke a few tackles and put a memorable stiff-arm on a defender that catapulted him toward the end zone.

“Ricky is a yards-after-contact guy,” Lindenhurst coach Nick Lombardo said. “He’s not going down with the first hit. That run was typical of his toughness and the way he refuses to go down easy. He’s one of our four-year guys and our whole team has taken on that persona — we take pride in being physical.”

Lombardo hopes being physical will help negate the high-octane offense of Oceanside, which is averaging 36 points per game and has a bevy of playmakers.

“We’re on the cusp of making school history,” Lombardo said. “Our guys know we can achieve something very special. No one said it was going to be easy. Our senior leadership will reflect on the season and the motivation will come from them to finish what we started.”

Senior wide receiver Jeremy Ruckert, also a four-year starter, can impact the championship game in a variety of ways.

The 6-6 All-Long Island selection can come off the edge to stop the run or alter passing lanes. He regularly kicks off through the end zone and is one of Long Island’s most accurate placekickers. Most teams bracket him in double- and triple-coverage to limit his big-play capability.

“I tell our guys that I have the experience of losing in the LIC,” Ruckert said. “And we let that chance to make history slip away. This game will be won on the line. Winning the LIC has been our goal from the first day of camp.”

Lindenhurst will need to stop Oceanside quarterback Tommy Heuer, who threw for a school-record 36 touchdowns and 2,661 yards with only two interceptions. Heuer will have multiple targets in Jake Lazzaro, Bernie Diaz, Dylan Judd and Derek Cruz.

The Bulldogs will lean on an athletic secondary in Conway, Dilon Smith, Justin Zotto and Mitchell St-Aubin to match up with Oceanside’s skill players.

“We’ll mix in some man-to-man coverages, stunt a lot and try to get Heuer out of his launch point,” Lombardo said. “We’ll try to confuse them. They’re a very diverse offense with an excellent line.”

Lindenhurst’s Nick Anzalone has emerged as one of Long Island’s top quarterbacks, throwing for 1,822 yards and 21 touchdowns. The development of a young offensive line with sophomore guards Su Agunloye and Will Ruckert, sophomore center Jeff Perez, junior tackle Mike Bradley and senior tackle Malik Grant also has contributed to the Bulldogs’ success.

“They know it’s all right in front of them,” Lombardo said. “We’re ready.”

LINDENHURST

BULLDOGS

No. Player Grade Pos.

1 Jeremy Ruckert 12 TE/LB

2 JC Canobbio 11 WR/DB

5 Rick Conway 12 RB/DB

6 Anthony Rock 11 WR/DB

7 Jon Ciecirski 12 WR/DB

8 Nick Anzalone 12 QB

9 Kyle Dolan 12 WR/DB

10 Justin Zotto 12 WR/DB

12 Achilles Miliopulos 12 WR/DB

15 Mike Varela 11 QB

17 Justin Cilen 11 WR/DB

20 Dilon Smith 12 WR/DB

21 John Cella 11 WR/DB

22 Mitchell St-Aubin 12 RB/DB

26 Corey Voorneveld 11 RB/LB

27 Mike Anderson 11 RB/LB

30 Brandon Snyder 12 WR/DB

32 Dean Morreale 11 TE/LB

33 Cordell Fontana 12 FB/LB

34 Emmanuel White 11 TE/LB

40 Jack Winey 9 WR/LB

41 Matthew Russo 12 OL/LB

42 Nick Cornelia 12 RB/LB

43 Stephen Cicchetti 11 RB/DB

44 Dan Kwarta 12 WR/DB

45 Michael Thompson 11 RB/LB

50 Jeff Perez 10 OL/DL

51 Brian Henderson 11 OL/DL

52 Tom Rowan 12 OL/DL

53 Dylan Serica 9 OL/DL

55 Robert Commisso 11 OL/DL

56 Will Ruckert 10 OL/LB

58 Sunkonmi Agunloye 10 OL/DL

61 Tom McCarthy 12 OL/DL

62 David Bloom 11 OL/DL

65 Joseph Romanelli 11 OL/DL

68 Erik Winterhalter 12 OL/DL

70 Robert Protano 12 OL/DL

71 Malik Grant 12 OL/DL

72 Robert Rolston 11 OL/DL

73 Mike Bradley 11 OL/DL

75 Ryan Cappolla 11 TE/DL

76 Brian Paszkiewicz 12 OL/DL

77 Nicholas Giannelli 11 OL/DL

81 Jake Winters 11 WR/DB

88 Artur Garmatiuk 11 WR/DB

Coach Nick Lombardo

BULLDOGS’

ROAD TO THE LIC

Nassau I playoffs

Commack 38-0

Connetquot 35-14

County championship

Floyd 35-12

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