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Nick Santorelli leads high-powered Babylon over Glenn for Suffolk IV title

Babylon's Nick Santorelli runs around the left side

Babylon's Nick Santorelli runs around the left side against Glenn's Robert Valdez in the first half. (Nov. 21, 2013) Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

The sobering reality for any football team in Suffolk's Division IV is that the Babylon offense cannot be stopped. The Panthers can be slowed at times, maybe, but not Thursday night.

The Panthers delivered early and often, scoring three touchdowns in the first 8:27 to open a 19-point lead on their way to a 46-21 win over Glenn to win the Suffolk IV title before a crowd of 2,400 in LaValle Stadium at Stony Brook University.

Babylon (11-0) extended its Long Island-best win streak to 23 games and won its second straight Suffolk IV title. It's Babylon's 11th Suffolk title since 1985.

The defending Long Island Class IV champions will play Roosevelt at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium at noon next Friday.

No Class IV team has ever had back-to-back 12-0 seasons. Babylon will try to be the first.

"Our goal from the first day of practice was to be perfect again," said Babylon quarterback Nick Santorelli, who engineers Long Island's highest-scoring offense, averaging 43 points per game.

Babylon scored on its first two possessions using a lethal mix of the run and the pass orchestrated by Santorelli, who threw two touchdown passes and ran for another.

"Our offensive line doesn't get enough credit," Santorelli said. "My ability is average at best but I'm surrounded by so many playmakers."

One of those is senior halfback Luke Zappia, who had 122 yards and two TDs on five carries. He opened the scoring on the Panthers' first possession with a 34-yard TD run for a 6-0 lead to cap a seven-play, 75-yard drive. "He's our secret weapon," Santorelli said of Zappia.

Another weapon is senior wide receiver Jake Carlock, who had five catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Carlock caught a 21-yard scoring pass from Santorelli for a 13-0 lead with 5:16 left in the first quarter.

With the offense in rhythm, the Babylon defense made its own big play. Defensive back Ray Wardell jumped an out pattern and made a spectacular righthanded interception and raced down the sideline for a pick-6 and a 19-0 lead. Wardell read the route and made a well-timed sprint for the ball.

Glenn (8-3) responded with a seven-play, 68-yard touchdown march punctuated by a 5-yard scoring pass from Tom Balacki to Wayne White. After the Knights forced a Babylon punt, Balacki was at it again. He drove Glenn 70 yards in six plays for another score. This time, Balacki ran it in from 4 yards out to make it 19-14 with 7:09 left in the half.

It wouldn't get any closer.

On a third-and-2 play, Zappia busted loose for a 77-yard touchdown run and a 25-14 lead. Babylon finished the first half with 302 total yards.

"Coach [Rick Punzone] had a great game plan and the line made it easy for me," Zappia said. "The holes in the defense were there."

The second half featured more Babylon offense as the Panthers scored on three of their first four possessions. Carlock caught a 29-yard TD pass from Santorelli and Santorelli added a 25-yard TD run around the left end, where he split two defenders and scored untouched.

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