Last year was a learning experience for the Oceanside football team. Now the Sailors hope to prove what they learned.
The top seeded team in Nassau I returns seven starters from a 4-5 team that exited from the county playoffs in the first round.
The returnees — highlighted by the quarterback and receiving combination of Tommy Heuer and Dylan Judd, along with linemen Mike Scibelli and Vincent Schell with linebacker Bryan Aguilar — hope to keep that ranking all season.
“The excitement is really high, we definitely have a lot more expectations, definitely higher expectations than last year,” Heuer said. “Last year was not where we want to be and this year, our goal is to win the county championship and anything short of that, we didn’t reach our goal.”
The Sailors were one year removed from playing for the county championship when a first-round 31-28 loss to Massapequa knocked them out of the 2016 playoffs..
“They know what it’s like to be at the top, they know what it’s like to kind of struggle so they know what’s there,” Sailors coach Rob Blount said. “We have a lot of guys coming back with awards and it’s just like ‘We’ve got to get it done.’ Anything else is not acceptable.”
But Nassau I will be far from a one-team dominated league. Freeport, the defending Class I Long Island champion, returns lineman/linebacker Robert Fitzsimmons and running back/defensive back Aaje Grayson. After entering last season with the No. 4 seed, Freeport isn’t concerned about rankings.
“It doesn’t matter, honestly, where we’re put,” Fitzsimmons said. “Last year we were fourth, still came out LIC. Doesn’t phase us too much.”
Massapequa and Farmingdale, two traditionally strong programs, look poised for another strong season with Hempstead looking to emerge as a dark horse in Nassau I, led by Dashawn Meadors in the backfield.
With this being the senior seasons for the core of the Oceanside team, the players are looking to end their football tenures with a championship.
“Sometimes, I don’t think our guys would say it, but we have next year,” Judd said. “This is our year. This is our goal. Our goal is to win a county championship, no doubt, and I think we’re very capable of doing it.”