Mepham's Dominick Novello is chased by New Hyde Park's Walter Reyes-Rubi...

Mepham's Dominick Novello is chased by New Hyde Park's Walter Reyes-Rubi during a game at New Hyde Park on Oct. 23, 2021. Credit: David L. Pokress/David L. Pokress

Dom Novello and Brady Clark have some things in common. Both football players experienced the heartbreak of playoff elimination in stunning fashion in 2021.

Novello, the do-it-all playmaker for Mepham, watched as MacArthur, a perennial playoff finalist, came back to beat the Pirates, 21-18, in the waning moments of a Nassau Conference II semifinal round.

Novello’s season was over.

Clark watched Shoreham-Wading River, a perennial Suffolk Division IV champion, strip away Bayport’s shot at the school’s first LIC appearance with a tantalizing 71-yard TD pass in the final minute.

Clark’s dream season was shattered and over.

The key thing that Novello and Clark have in common – they were both juniors and have another shot to win a county crown. And there is nothing sweeter than redemption. Both players opened their respective senior campaigns with a vengeance.

“We have dedicated ourselves to the weight room and focused on getting stronger,” said Novello, who started the season with three TD passes in a 29-6 win over Elmont. “The MacArthur playoff loss drives us every day. It’s a reminder that we have to put in the work to get the reward.”

Mepham will host MacArthur on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Senior Mepham wide receiver Sofia LaSpina says she has a great bond with her teammates and thinks it's awesome other girls look up to her as the only female football player on the Mepham Pirates, Newsday TV's Carissa Kellman reports. Credit: Gary Licker

Across the county line in the 631, Clark threw for a school-record five TD passes in a 48-6 rout of Mount Sinai in the Phantoms' season opener.

“I thought about the playoff loss to Shoreham every night,” said Clark, who totaled 335 all-purpose yards in the opener. “It was a brutal end to a great season. We’re over it and moving forward but we didn’t forget. At least we have the chance to come back and go for the county title.”

Bayport-Blue Point hosts Shoreham-Wading River on Saturday at 1 p.m.

The same resolve will drive both signal callers in week two of the 2022 season.

“At least we didn’t have to wait too long for another shot at them,” Novello said.    

MacArthur and Shoreham-Wading River also opened the season with wins. The Generals beat Calhoun, 31-7, behind three touchdowns from halfback Rocco Hogan. Shoreham-Wading River erased a seven-point halftime deficit and shut out Miller Place in the second half for a 23-20 comeback win. Sophomore halfback Will Hart scored on a 9-yard run and junior Sam Palmer added a 23-yard field goal for the win.

NASSAU I

Port Washington at Westbury, Friday, 5 p.m.: Port Washington stunned the conference with a 40-36 win over Freeport. Quarterback John McCarthy accounted for 335 all-purpose yards and scored the go-ahead TD on a 9-yard run with three seconds left. Westbury won its opener over Hicksville, 22-7.

SUFFOLK II

Smithtown East at Smithtown West, Friday, 6 p.m.: An intra-district showdown that features two of Long Island’s top quarterbacks. Tommy Azzara rushed for 227 yards and threw for four touchdowns in East’s 57-6 win over Copiague. Brayden Stahl passed for three touchdowns in a wild 34-30 loss to Northport.

NASSAU III

Wantagh at Bethpage, Saturday, Saturday, 2 p.m.: Bethpage snapped a three-game losing skein to Wantagh with a 34-27 semifinal playoff win in 2021. The Golden Eagles Will McMullen scored an 80-yard run to break a tie at 14 and pull out the 21-14 win over Floral Park.

SUFFOLK II

Lindenhurst at Bellport, Saturday, Saturday, 2 p.m.: These teams have split four meetings in the last four years. Bellport beat the Dawg’s 13-0 for the division title. The Dawgs’ defense has been one of the divisions best over the past decade. They will need to stop halfback Donte Phillips and quarterback Justin Miles to win on the road.

CHSFL

St. Anthony's at St. Joseph (Montvale, N.J.), Saturday, 8 p.m.: St. Anthony’s quarterback Dante Torres lit up the Chaminade defense last week for four TD passes, two each to Korey Duff Jr. and Jaeden Jenkins. St. Joseph is a New Jersey powerhouse and can score with the Friars. Should be a fun game if you like to see the defensive units getting abused.

THIS WEEK'S PICKS

GREGG SARRA (12-6)

Port Washington

Elmont

Ward Melville

Smithtown West

Half Hollow Hills West

Sayville

Freeport

Mepham

Long Beach

Lynbrook

Plainedge

Bethpage

Riverhead

Floyd

Northport

Bellport

Bayport-Blue Point

Kings Park

St. Anthony’s

Paramus Catholic

ROGER RUBIN (11-7)

Port Washington

Elmont

Ward Melville

Smithtown West

Half Hollow Hills West

Sayville

Freeport

MacArthur

Long Beach

Manhasset

Plainedge

Bethpage

Sachem East

Floyd

Northport

Lindenhurst

Bayport-Blue Point

Miller Place

St. Joseph (Montvale, NJ)

Paramus Catholic

ANDY SLAWSON (12-6)

Port Washington

Elmont

Ward Melville

Smithtown West

Half Hollow Hills West

Sayville

Freeport

MacArthur

Long Beach

Lynbrook

Plainedge

Bethpage

Sachem East

Floyd

Half Hollow Hills East

Bellport

Bayport-Blue Point

Kings Park

St. Joseph

Paramus Catholic

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