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Whitman's dream season runs into the Floyd juggernaut

Walt Whitman football player #7 Rasahn Thompson, WR,

Walt Whitman football player #7 Rasahn Thompson, WR, Jr. Credit: Dr. Jim Wright

For the first time, the high school football season was played in the spring. Nassau and Suffolk will crown four conference champions, but there will not be any Long Island champions for the first time since 1992.

And as much as it is disappointing that there is no Long Island champion in the four classifications, the Nassau and Suffolk County titles are now the focus.

"It’s still very exciting in a year that we were very lucky to have a football season," said Floyd coach Paul Longo, who has guided the Colonials to five LI titles. "There’s still a buzz and a fantastic playoff atmosphere."

Floyd (4-1) will host Whitman (4-1) for the Suffolk Conference I title on Friday at 5 p.m. Whitman stormed to the League II regular-season crown with a dominant victory over Lindenhurst, the defending Division II champion, and then crushed Longwood, 30-6, in a conference semifinal last week.

The Wildcats make for an interesting storyline because they hadn’t won a playoff game in 31 years before snapping the streak last week.

Ahh, but this is the year of COVID, where anything is possible, including football in the spring! And Whitman, well, that team is for real. The Wildcats are loaded with athletes on both sides of the ball.

"We can play with anyone and we’re proving that every week," said Tim Hunter, a running back/defensive back. "We know people doubt us and that just fuels us more."

The Wildcats' strength is team speed in the secondary and linebacker. The offense runs behind Nicholas Bottoni, a strong-armed junior quarterback, and the hard running of halfback A.J. Evans.

However, the matchup with Floyd is not a good one for Whitman. The football giant that lurks in Mastic Beach knows all about the pressure of championship games. The Colonials' offense is simple — they run you over. There is no need to worry about speedy defensive backs who can cover in space because Floyd rarely throws the football. In fact, they’ve only completed one pass all season.

"We have been successful for years with our offensive philosophy," Longo said. "We run the ball and when we execute up front it’s tough to stop. Whitman is an excellent football team and they’re red-hot. I’m very impressed with the quarterback and they’re playing with a lot of confidence. We’re definitely not taking them lightly."

The other side of the matchup should also concern Whitman coach Robin Rosa. The Floyd defensive front is one of Long Island’s best led by ends Brian Benson and Darius Arrington. And Bottoni hasn’t seen that kind of pressure. He needs to get the ball out quickly to talented wide receivers Brandon Ivy, Chris Silverio and Hunter or the ride to the championship will end.

Westhampton at Sayville, Greeley Avenue Field, Friday, 6 p.m.: The Suffolk Conference III title is on the line. Sayville quarterback Jack Cheshire threw a for a school-record 500 yards and five TDs in a 47-21 win the last time they met.

Bellport at West Islip, Saturday, 6:30 p.m.: The Suffolk Conference II crown comes down to defense. Can Bellport contain elusive Lions quarterback Joe Costantino?

Mount Sinai at Shoreham-Wading River, Saturday, 1 p.m.: The Suffolk Conference IV title game matches familiar foes. Shoreham shut out Mount Sinai, 28-0, in the season opener.

Syosset at Oceanside, Friday, 6 p.m.: Syosset scored 64 points in a win over Farmingdale, and they’ll need that kind of offense to keep up with record-breaking quarterback Charlie McKee and the Sailors.

East Meadow at Massapequa, Saturday, TBA: They did not meet in Nassau Conference I. Can the Jets slow down quarterback John Giller and the Massapequa offense? East Meadow runs the ball with halfback Chris Barry, who has consistently been over 100 yards per game.

STAFF PICKS

GREGG SARRA (53-13)

Oceanside

Garden City

MacArthur

Plainedge

Whitman

Sayville

Massapequa

Manhasset

North Shore

Seaford

Bellport

Shoreham-Wading River

ROGER RUBIN (50-16)

Oceanside

Garden City

MacArthur

Plainedge

Floyd

Sayville

Massapequa

Manhasset

NorthShore

Wantagh

West Islip

Shoreham-Wading Rive

SCHEDULE

Friday

NASSAU

Semifinals

Conference I

(4) Syosset at (1) Oceanside, 6 p.m.

Conference II

(4) Sewanhaka at (1) Garden City, 2 p.m.

(3) South Side at (2) MacArthur, 7:30 p.m.

Conference III

(3) Bethpage at (2) Plainedge, 6:30 p.m.

SUFFOLK

Conference I Final

Whitman at William Floyd, 5 p.m.

Conference III Final

Westhampton at Sayville, Greeley Avenue Field, 6 p.m.

Non-League

Ward Melville at Brentwood, 4:30 p.m. p.m.

Half Hollow Hills West at Eastport-South Manor, 5 p.m.

Hauppauge at East Islip, 1 p.m.

Kings Park at West Babylon, 6 p.m.

Rocky Point at Deer Park, 6 p.m.

North Babylon at Connetquot, 6 p.m.

Harborfields at Comsewogue, 6 p.m.

Saturday

NASSAU

Semifinals

Conference I

(3) East Meadow at (2) Massapequa, 2 p.m.

Conference III

(4) Floral Park at (1) Manhasset, 1 p.m.

Conference IV

(4) Cold Spring Harbor at (1) North Shore, 1 p.m.

(3) Wantagh at (2) Seaford, 2 p.m.

SUFFOLK

Conference II Final

Bellport at West Islip, 6:30 p.m.

Conference IV Final

Mt. Sinai at Shoreham-Wading River, 1 p.m.

Non-League

Glenn at Babylon, 12 p.m.

Port Jefferson at Bayport-Blue Point, 1 p.m.

Center Moriches at Islip, 1 p.m.

Smithtown West at Huntington, 1 p.m.

Lindenhurst at Longwood, 1 p.m.

Half Hollow Hills East at Northport, 1 p.m.

Sachem North at Sachem East, 1 p.m.

Centereach at Smithtown East, 1 p.m.

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