East Meadow is playing this football season on a brand-new turf field. The only thing missing is the scoreboard, back-ordered because of supply chain issues. When the Jets entertained defending county champion Massapequa on Saturday, that might not have been such a bad thing.
Massapequa looked like a team that just kept on playing after capturing the Nassau I title in the pandemic-displaced spring season. A bunch of the names have changed, but the line is still imposing, the offense still high-powered and the determination still steely. All that was on display as Massapequa scored on seven of its first eight possessions for a 49-7 pasting of the Jets in the season opener for both teams.
Ryan Heidrich looked like a veteran in his first start at quarterback after three seasons as the backup. He was 7-for-8 passing for 220 yards and three touchdowns and rushed 10 times for 66 yards and pair of scores. He connected with Jake Ciolino on touchdown passes that went 69 and 32 yards, a 41-yarder to Ryan Fountain and his touchdown runs measured 5 and 1 yard.
"He knows the system and as you see, he's a big, strong kid with a very good arm," Massapequa coach Kevin Shippos said of the 6-2, 205-pound senior. "He’s very head strong and makes very good decisions. When he runs the ball, it’s a load to take on."
"I have a lot of confidence in myself to do the job," Heidrich sad. "Having an offensive line like ours makes it a lot easier."
Massapequa linemen Jakob Menichini, Jason Kovaluskie, Edward D’Avanzo, Dylan Wakely, Liam De Vos and Nick Blitz gave Heidrich all the time he needed on the touchdown strikes.
Massapequa (1-0) may have gained an advantage in having their championship game triumph over Oceanside so close to the start of this season. Massapequa knocked off the previously unbeaten Sailors in a see-saw Nassau Conference I title game, 36-29, on May 1. As senior two-way lineman Menichini explained, the team was already clicking, and, "We’re just coming right back to it hungry for a second championship. We’ve walked the path before . . . . We know the way and what it takes to be champions."
Already up 7-0 on Heidrich’s first touchdown run, he put a bomb on Ciolino’s hands for the 69-yard score and a 14-0 lead. After the Jets Matt Rodriguez halved the lead with a 17-yard touchdown run, Ciolino had a spectacular catch-and-run – juking a pair of defenders – en route to the 32-yard touchdown.
"It was like playing backyard football – just breaking ankles," he said.
There was some good fortune on the third touchdown pass. The pass glanced of the hands of East Meadow defensive back Shane McIntyre and Fountain was able to corral it and take it in for the 41-yard score and a 28-7 lead.
"Their size up front really took a toll on us," Jets coach Frank Baglivo said. "We had trouble getting off their blocks."
Michael D’Alessandro rushed for 138 yards including a 76-yard touchdown and freshman placekicker Alex Chillemi was an unsung hero by going 7-for-7 on extra points for ’Pequa. And though the defense isn’t playing crisply yet, Massapequa had seven tackles for a loss, including two each by Menichini and Wakely.
"If you think we’re good now, we’re going to get a lot better," Menichini said. "We’ll be perfect in time for the playoffs."