Sometimes things are better left unsaid . . . well, at least until after the season.
Sure, Miller Place is the top seed in Suffolk III for the first time. But the Panthers aren't interested in having that label in early-September. They want it in November.
Therefore, preseason seeding talk has become taboo. "They are welcoming the challenge but it's not something we ever talk about," coach Ron Petrie said. "They're not satisfied with just the recognition. They want to earn that reputation as well."
They have the personnel in place to earn it.
Running back Brett Osman is working with a large, talented offensive line. Osman is as elusive as they come, rarely letting opponents make a clean tackle on him. As a junior last season, he led the team with 1,248 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.
Here are some equally impressive numbers: 276, 282, 290.
The weights of some of the offensive lineman who will be opening holes for Osman, led by the Villanova-bound Chris Buchalski.
But for the preseason favorite to finish as postseason champion, they'll have to go through one of the most balanced divisions in Long Island. That means containing Huntington's Ben Kocis, arguably the most talented quarterback in the division.
That also means bringing an end to a dynasty in Sayville, where the three-time defending champs are now the third seed. But the Golden Flashes will shift Matthew Selts to his comfort zone in the backfield and begin the Jack Coan era. The freshman quarterback has been so impressive in camp that his coach Robert Hoss issued a warning to record keepers: "Write the record books in pencil."
Ade Nelson could run Comsewogue to the top spot. The lineman tandem of Patrick Sheppard and Cobi Rose could lift Islip. Sean Walters could carry Amityville further than expected. The list goes on in Suffolk III. Which is why some things are better left unsaid.
"We can't look past anyone," Petrie said. "But we want to be playing in the last week of November. So, we plan on being in the LIC."
2012 record: 8-2
Coach: Ron Petrie, 13th season
KEY PLAYERS: Brett Osman, RB/DB, 5-11, 185, Sr.; Chris Buchalski, OT/DE, 6-5, 275, Sr.; Austin Yezarski, WR/DB, 6-2, 175, Sr.; Mason Rodriguez, OT/DT, 6-3, 280, Sr.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS: Osman is a slasher that is great at running between the tackles. He'll have room to do so thanks to a line that features plenty of size with the Villanova-bound Buchalski, Rodriguez and the 6-4, 295-pound James McNulty. An athletic secondary is led by Yezarski and Nicco Narbutas.
2012 record: 7-3
Coach: Steve Muller, 18th season
KEY PLAYERS: Ben Kocis, QB, 6-2, 190, Sr.; Levar Butts, RB/LB, 5-10, 205, Sr.; Troy Greene, RB/LB, 6-2, 215, Sr.; Christian Jamison, WR/DL, 6-3, 200
ABOUT THE BLUE DEVILS: Kocis will make the short or long pass in the spread formation but can also scramble and make something out of nothing. Butts has breakaway speed whereas Greene will run through defenders. Leading WR Jamison will be complemented by Infinite Tucker, a 6-3 sophomore with explosive speed.
2012 record: 11-1
Coach: Robert Hoss, 12th season
KEY PLAYERS: Matthew Selts, RB/DB, 5-10, 165, Sr.; Bobby Boos, OL/DL, 6-1, 270, Jr.; Tim Fraccalvieri, OL/DL, 6-0, 255, Jr.; Jack Coan, QB, 6-2, 160, Fr.
ABOUT THE GOLDEN FLASHES: The three-time defending champs shift Selts to his natural position in the backfield, where he can change direction without losing speed. Coan has the tools to win now. His top target will be Chris Rupp, who is also emerging as a leader at linebacker on a revamped defense.
2012 record: 5-4
Coach: Sean Tremblay, 3rd season
KEY PLAYERS: Ade Nelson, RB/DB, 6-0, 2-5, Sr.; Andrew Steck, QB/S, 6-1, 200, Sr.; James Fox, TE/DE, 6-3, 230, Sr.; Andwi Nepomuceno, OT/DT, 5-11, 210, Sr.
ABOUT THE WARRIORS: Nelson, who ran for just over 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, features a formidable combination of speed and physicality. Fox, a mobile quarterback who can also throw with accuracy, takes command of the offense. Both lines are improved, led by Fox and Nepomuceno.
2012 record: 4-5
Coach: Joe Cipp III, 3rd season
KEY PLAYERS: Connor Cipp, FB/LB, 6-1, 210, Sr.; Conor Haverty, RB/LB, 5-9, 210, Jr.; Alex LaBranche, OL/DL, 6-3, 235, Sr.; Nick Kantor, TE/DE, 6-4, 215
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS: Cipp has great speed sideline to sideline and a good eye for the ball. He combines with Haverty to form a formidable run-stuffing tandem at inside linebacker. Cipp will also be the lead blocker in the Wishbone offense with Haverty, Joe Leon and Adrian Delrosario as options at running back.
2012 record: 7-4
Coach: Bill Parry, 17th season
KEY PLAYERS: Evan Gagne, HB/DB, 5-10, 180, Sr.; Liam Culhane, G/DT, 5-10, 210, Sr.; Zach Rignola, WR/DB, 5-7, 160, Sr.; Steven Tagliavia, QB/DB, 6-2, 175, Sr.
ABOUT THE HURRICANES: After back-to-back losses to Sayville in the championship game, only nine seniors remain. That includes Gagne, a shifty running back, and Culhane, the only returning starter on the line. First-year QB Tagliavia will run the Wing-T offense and look downfield for his top target Rignola.
2012 record: 2-6
Coach: Jamie Lynch, 8th season
KEY PLAYERS; Patrick Sheppard, G/DE, 6-0, 250, Sr.; Kieran Mullins, QB/FS, 5-11, 175, Sr.; Winel Michaud
TB/DB, 5-10, 165, Sr.; Cobi Rose; G/DT, 6-2, 305, Jr.
ABOUT THE BUCCANEERS: As if dealing with the strength and quickness of Sheppard wasn't challenging enough, Islip has Rose, who transfers back to Islip from St. Anthony’s. That combination, along with linebackers Craig Hinrichs and Nick Finnegan and a more explosive offense with Mullins, Michaud and Timmy Going.
2012 record: 4-4
Coach: Mike Potter, 11th season
KEY PLAYERS: Andrew Widmer, QB, 5-10, 185, Sr.; Tanner Morrow, WR/DB, 6-4, 190, Sr.; Billy Moller, TE/DE, 6-1, 210, Sr.; Steve Martin, OG/DE, 6-0, 200, Sr.
ABOUT THE TORNADOS: They'll run more play-action and spread sets this year, putting trust in the strong and accurate arm of Widmer. Morrow is a big target who finds gaps for yards after the catch. Moller, a good blocker with sure hands, goes from the O-line to tight end. Martin is a sound blocker and a strong tackler in the 4-4 defense.
2012 record: 5-4
Coach: Mark O'Brien, 19th season
KEY PLAYERS: Joe Reinl, OG/DE 6-2, 230, Sr.; Pat Shea
OG/DT, 6-2, 240, Sr.; Tyler Manuello, TB/CB, 5-10, 165, Sr.;
Sean Snead, QB/LB, 6-0, 175, Sr.
ABOUT THE KINGSMEN: Reinl, Shea and Steven Lee will use their strength and athleticism on the line to lead a more aggressive 4-3 defense. Kevin Farrell, a cover corner who likes to hit, returns to the secondary. Sean Snead takes over under center and has a big target in Chris DiAngelo, who isn’t afraid to go up in traffic for the ball.
2012 record: 4-5
Coach: Adam Hovorka, 1st season
KEY PLAYERS: Sean Walters, QB, 5-8, 150, Sr.; Aasin Thomas, C/DT, 5-11, 220, Sr.; Gary Looney, TE/FB/LB, 6-2, 230, Jr.; Lonnie Pernell, TE/DE, 6-4, 220
ABOUT THE WARRIORS: Walters, who last season threw for 1,026 yards and 10 touchdowns and ran for 820 yards and 8 scores, is a dangerous weapon putting the ball in the air or keeping it on the ground in the spread offense. When he isn't running the read option, Cam Grady and Antony Bell provide a change of pace in the backfield.
2012 record: 2-6
Coach: Paul Mastronardi, 4th season
KEY PLAYERS: Michael Bianco, FB/LB, 5-10, 225, Sr.; Joe Pesce, OG/NG, 6-2, 305, Sr.; Cole Zeller, RB/LB, 5-9, 185, Sr.; Jager Chaisty, WR/DB, 6-1, 170, Sr.
ABOUT THE SHARKS: The defense returns seven starters. The strength will be at linebacker, led by Bianco, who had 118 tackles last season, Zeller and Justin Pugal. After two years on the offensive line, Bianco will shift to fullback. Pesce anchors a young O-line that adds Sam D'Ambrosio.
2012 record: 2-6
Coach: Joe Patrovich, 6th season
KEY PLAYERS: C.J. Ciserano, RB/DB, 6-1, 175, Sr.; James Louison, OT/DE, 6-3, 295, Sr.; Mike Basile, WR/DB, 6-1, 180, Sr.; Roger Walker, C/DE, 6-0, 195, Sr.
ABOUT THE EAGLES: The 3-5 defense will be heavily predicated on speed to make up for the lack of size. In the multiple option offense, Ciserano can find the hole, catch the ball and block when needed. Louison moves his feet well and has added quickness. Hauppauge may air it out more than usual with quarterback Nick Milden.
2012 record: 1-7
Coach: Ron Langella, 9th season
KEY PLAYERS: Jasawn Thompson, RB/LB, 6-2, 220, Jr.;
Thomas Reed, TE/DE, 6-3, 215, Sr.; Walter Piccini, OT/DT, 6-1, 270, Sr.; Nick Vitale, C/LB, 6-0, 210, Sr.
ABOUT THE FALCONS: Thompson is a powerful runner with good vision who will run through an opponent if he has the opportunity. The 4-3 defense features run-stoppers such as Reed, Piccini and Vitale, who will clog the gaps. Strong safety Skylure Pannel knows when to play in the box and when to drop into coverage.
2012 record: 3-5
Coach: Craig Perrino, 2nd season
KEY PLAYERS: Alex Borga, WR/DB, 5-7, 155, Jr.; T.J. Strazzeri, OL/DL, 5-10, 190, Sr.; Jason Cervello, OL/LB, 5-10, 185, Sr.; Chris Johnson, QB, 5-11, 165, Sr.
ABOUT THE EAGLES: The fastest player on a fast team is Borga, an athletic receiver with good hands who will line up in the slot position. Johnson will throw the ball out of the spread with wideouts such as Harrison Lynch and Greg Carotenuto. Strazzeri, Cervello and Troy Reh will anchor an eight-man front on defense.