The Massapequa football team knows it's never an easy task playing at Oceanside High School. Now factor in both teams being undefeated and Saturday being Oceanside’s homecoming and the Massapequa players expected a tough, loud and physically demanding game.
That’s exactly what they were met with as Oceanside didn’t let a wet 24 hours prior to kickoff damper its festivities. But the Massapequa defense embraced that additional challenge to overcome the loud Oceanside fans and Jason Kovaluskie was determined to ruin the day for the Sailors.
The senior recorded a strip-sack and recovered the fumble at the Massapequa 3-yard line midway through the first quarter. It set up Massapequa’s first score in a 21-6 victory in Nassau Conference I football on Saturday afternoon. Tyler Villalta scored on a 3-yard run on the first offensive play after the fumble recovery.
“I just saw the ball and I just grabbed it and we got really hyped,” Kovaluskie said. “Defensive plays early on can kill teams, kill drives, kill atmospheres. That killed their mood, their 309 student section wasn’t chanting like they were anymore.”
Massapequa struck again right before the Oceanside homecoming halftime festivities were about to begin. Robby Nugent, a 6-4 receiver, hauled in a 13-yard touchdown pass from Joey Diesso over two defenders in the end zone to give Massapequa a 14-0 lead with 2:19 left in the second quarter.
“Once it was in the air, I knew it was mine,” Nugent said. “I knew I had to go get it. I knew I had the height advantage so anything that’s in the air I think it’s mine.”
Oceanside (3-1) nearly answered with a score of its own before Ryan Wieczorek made a tackle at the 3-yard line after the Sailors gained seven yards on a fourth-and-9 in the closing seconds of the second quarter. Coach Kevin Shippos credited his team’s defense throughout the victory.
“We have a lot of veteran leadership that can kind of take some of the weight off my hands,” Shippos said. “When you have guys who are experienced and know what’s going on, it can let them do their thing out there and that’s what they did.”
Massimo Musso also had some key defensive plays, including a sack, three tackles for loss and making the final tackle on Oceanside on a fourth-and-12 with 3:30 left.
“The whole season, we’re trying to make that our identity,” Musso said. “We’re killing it on defense. We’re getting to the ball, we’re hustling to the ball, no one is stopping us on defense.”
Villalta, who finished with 102 yards on 26 carries, added a 26-yard touchdown run to give Massapequa a 21-0 lead with 18.6 seconds left in the third quarter.
"I bounced out to the left and I saw no one there and I just took off and I knew it was a touchdown,” Villalta said. “It was a killer. We knew we had it in the bag after that.”
His touchdown capped a 10-play, 70-yard drive following Frank Romano’s interception for Massapequa.
Shane Harmon connected with Dylan Bender on a 57-yard touchdown pass to cut Massapequa’s lead to 21-6 with 9:04 left in the fourth quarter. Nugent recovered the ensuing onside kick.
“This was a typical Massapequa and Oceanside throw-down, knockout fight,” Shippos said. “They came in this year as the seven seed but we knew they were a lot better than that. They had a lot of guys coming back and coach (Rob) Blount does a tremendous job so we were expecting one of the traditional throw-down, tough physical games. And it was.”