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Nassau Conference I football preview

Floyd running back Stacey Bedell breaks away from

Floyd running back Stacey Bedell breaks away from East Meadow lineman Giancarlo Carvalho in the first half of the Long Island Class I championship. (Nov. 27, 2011) Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Though Nassau I saw some major shakeups in the offseason, there was at least one thing that didn't change: East Meadow is still the team to beat. Despite losing Thorp Award-winner Robbie Healy, the Rutgers Cup winners are eyeing a return to the Long Island championship behind offensive tackle Giancarlo Carvalho and Billy Andrle, the gritty fullback who muscled his way into a starring role during the 2011 campaign.

But what about all those changes? Massapequa will play without a star running back in Vassili Grigorakos, who transferred to Oceanside, possibly shifting the balance of power. Between Grigorakos, wide receiver Anthony Pintabona and running back Justin Buckley, the Sailors seem far better (and far more dangerous) than their four seed. Freeport, meanwhile, graduated a bulk of its talent, while Farmingdale returns with far more maturity after a rebuilding year. As for sleepers, look no further than Uniondale and Valley Stream Central. The Knights are fast and have an explosive running back in William Stanback, while Valley Stream is coming back from an injury-torn season and ready to herald the return of a game-changing tailback in Laton Butler.

EAST MEADOW JETS (10-2)

Coach: Vinny Mascia, 15th season

Key Players

Giancarlo Carvalho OT/DE 6-2, 280, Sr.

Billy Andrle FB/LB 5-10, 215, Jr.

Rich Renkl OG/NG, 5-10, 275, Sr.

Chris Buschi QB 6-2, 195, Sr.

Ben Fritzen OG/DE 5-10, 235, Sr.

Chris Green DE 5-10, 210, Sr.

About the Jets: The Rutgers Cup winners and Nassau champions look to defend their title with a ground-and-pound flexbone offense led by Andrle, who tallied 900 rushing yards with 14 TDs last year. He also spearheaded defense with 66 tackles. The offensive line returns three starters, including a dominant Carvalho. The Jets have a new QB in Buschi.

MASSAPEQUA CHIEFS (7-3)

Coach: Kevin Shippos, second season

Key Players

Jack Korber RB/DB 5-7, 165, Jr.

Nick Balzano WR/LB 6-0, 185, Jr.

Nick Capuana RB/DB 5-10, 175, Jr.

Tim Duerr OL/DL 5-11, 220, Sr.

Craig Berge WR/DB 6-0, 175, Jr.

Ty McKessy OL/DE 5-11, 215, Sr.

About the Chiefs: Massapequa is young, but mature and will rely on its experience in the skill positions, led by Korber and Balzano. The Chiefs lost an all-county running back with the transfer Vassili Grigorakos, and will need to rely on Capuana to help lighten Korber's load in their spread offense.

BALDWIN BRUINS (6-3)

Coach: Stephen T. Carroll, 26th season

Key Players

Jovaun Tomlinson RB/DB 5-10, 175, Sr.

Michael Abrahams RB/LB 6-0, 195, Sr.

Kendle Bramble OL/DL 6-4, 290, Sr.

Johnathan Robinson RB/DB 6-1, 195, Sr.

Treyvon Mask RB/DB 6-0, 185, Sr.

Lucas Krucher OL/LB 6-0, 205, Sr.

About the Bruins: Baldwin's Power I offense will be led by Tomlinson, a team sparkplug who scored 12 touchdowns on 950 rushing yards. He, along with Mask (659 yards, six TDs) will take the lead with a new quarterback in junior Tyler Warner. Abrahams (35 tackles) and Robinson (42 tackles) lead the 5-2 defense.

OCEANSIDE SAILORS (5-5)

Coach: Rob Blount, fourth season

Key Players

Anthony Pintabona WR/DB 5-9, 165, Sr.

Vassili Grigorakos RB/LB 5-11, 215, Sr.

Justin Buckley RB/DE 6-1, 205 Sr.

Shane Saucier RB/LB 5-8, 200, Sr.

Tom Capone QB5-11, 200, Sr.

Like Schwasnick RB/CB 6-0, 190, Jr.

About the Sailors: Oceanside returns a loaded offense, led by Pintabona, an All-County wide receiver, and Grigorakos, the Massapequa transfer who tallied 900 rushing yards and seven TDs, along with 73 tackles and three sacks at linebacker. He and Buckley (625 yards, eight TDs) could make for an unstoppable running game. Capone split time at quarterback last year and his comfort as an every day starter will be integral to the Sailors' chances.

FREEPORT RED DEVILS (9-2)

Coach: Russ Cellan, 27th season

Key Players

Eric Corona C 5-10, 205, Sr.

Cedric Smiley RB/DB 5-10, 170, Sr.

Eric Brown WR/LB 5-9, 175, Sr.

Kyheim Chaplin WR/S 6-1, 175, Sr.

Jason Jimenez OL/DL 6-3, 275, Sr.

Elliot Fortune OL/DL 6-1, 200, So.

About the Red Devils: Led by Corona, Freeport has a strong offensive line that will be integral to its spread offense. Smiley and Brown will take starring roles in a new-look attack that still has some questions at quarterback. The Red Devils also introduce Shawnee Barrett to the varsity, a junior DB/WR who has the speed and versatility to make an impact.

FARMINGDALE DALERS (3-5)

Coach: Buddy Krumenacker, 20th year

Key Players

Matt Dittmeier LB 5-11, 205, Sr.

Kevin Petit-Frere DE 6-2, 210, Sr.

Mike Gregorovic S 6-1, 170, Sr.

Rickie Morris WR 5-9, 165, Sr.

Steve Arnone G 6-0, 290, Sr.

Mike Sinatro T6-3, 270, Sr.

About the Dalers: Farmingdale, which has 22 seniors on the team, is coming off a season where they replaced every starter. Now more mature, the Dalers have a big offensive line, and speed on defense, led by Dittmeier (67 tackles). Petit-Frere (53 tackles, six sacks) and Gregorovic (43 tackles, two interceptions) round out a squad that should be a defensive force this year.

UNIONDALE KNIGHTS (4-5)

Coach: Greg Didio, 22nd season

Key Players

William Stanback TB/SS 5-11, 212, Sr.

Tyler Desire' QB/MLB 6-4, 224, Sr.

Jordon Hamilton FB/DE 6-1, 197, Sr.

Jason Gordon WR/CB 5-10, 182, Sr.

Joseph Carles OT/DT 6-2, 257, Sr.

Charles Jackson OG/DT6-1, 246, Sr.

About the Knights: Speed-oriented offense is led by Stanback, a track star, and Desire' in his first year at quarterback. Both are tremendous athletes who bring their talents to the other side of the ball, with Desire' in particular known more for his time as a quick-footed, strong middle linebacker. Stanback shores up a secondary that can catch up to even the speediest offensive threats.

HEMPSTEAD TIGERS (3-5)

Coach: Antoine Moore, ninth season

Key Players

Malik Howard RB/DB 6-0, 180, Jr.

Tywan Watson QB/DB 5-11, 165, Sr.

Darius Meadors RB/LB 5-10, 220, Jr.

Marvin Stewart L 6-0, 160, Sr.

Azeez Smith RB/LB 5-8, 190, Sr.

About the Comets: Hempstead returns with an improved running game and greater depth at the running back position, led by Howard, the team's leading rusher, receiver and scorer. The Tigers have good team speed and look to bounce back from a rebuilding year. Expect Meadors, the Tigers' leading tackler, to be a force in their 3-3 defense.

HICKSVILLE COMETS (5-4)

Coach: Craig Stueber, ninth season

Key Players

Cedric Myrthil RB/LB 5-9, 200, Sr.

Steven Wasilewicz, RB/LB 6-1, 210, Sr.

Thomas Brennan QB/WR/DB 6-3, 190, Jr.

Rich Locke OL/DL 6-3, 235, Sr.

About the Comets: Hicksville will experience some growing pains in the early going having lost 17 seniors.. The Comets return Wasilewicz, who should prove a threat in their option offense, as well as Myrthil. Brennan takes over the reins in his first year at quarterback.

SYOSSET BRAVES (1-7)

Coach: Paul Rorke, 19th season

Key Players

Joe Morris RB/DB 5-7, 165, Sr.

John Aronson OL/DL 6-3, 290, Sr.

Robert Glasser OL/LB 6-0, 185, Sr.

Travis Hammer RB/DB 5-9, 155, Jr.

Brandon Nieves RB/LB 5-7, 170, Jr.

About the Braves: Syosset hopes to rebound from a 2011 season where they lost a number of players to injuries. Morris will be a leader in the Braves' spread offense, while Hammer and Nieves will round out Syosset's ground-and-pound attack.

VALLEY STREAM CENTRAL EAGLES (2-6)

Coach: Frank Chimienti, fourth season

Key Players

Laton Butler, TB/MLB 6-0, 225, Sr.

Francisco Montalvo, C/MLB 5-11, 225, Sr.

Brandon Wilder WR/OLB 6-0, 215, Sr.

Chad Blaize CB/WR 5-9, 175, Sr.

Boljan Castillo FB/OLB 6-1, 200, Jr.

Chris Robert OL/DL 5-11, 230, Jr.

About the Eagles: Keep an eye out for Butler, the speedy tailback who tallied 250 yards and three TDs in only one game last year. The Eagles have a strong running game, and will use a spread offense spearheaded by first-year QB Vito Friscia. Montalvo heads the defense after tallying 77 tackles last year, eight for a loss.

PLAINVIEW JFK HAWKS (1-7)

Coach: Chris Rogler, second season

Key Players

Alec Abramowitz QB/FS 6-0, 170, Sr.

Danny Brennan FB/LB 6-0, 225, Sr.

Chris Pastier TE/LB 6-1, 185, Sr.

Nick Liosa OL/DL 6-1, 180, Sr.

Nick Laspina OL/DL 5-9, 220, Sr.

Vinny Ruggerio OL/DL 6-2, 250, Jr.

About the Hawks: Plainview returns nine offensive starters and eight defensive starters, including a host of seniors - giving them depth at all positions. Abramowitz leads the offense at quarterback, while Laspina and Liosa front Plainview's 4-3 defense.

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