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Center Nick Sokol leads line as North Babylon runs to title

North Babylon center Nick Sokol blocks against West

North Babylon center Nick Sokol blocks against West Islip in the Suffolk Division II football final at LaValle Stadium on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Nick Sokol is at the heart of the North Babylon offensive line. The center does battle in the trenches on every play as the Bulldogs grind down opponents.

The North Babylon offense is not necessarily the most imaginative. Run right, run left, run up the middle, and coach Terry Manning likes it that way. He imposes the Bulldogs’ will on opponents.

North Babylon set the tone early in its 30-6 win over West Islip in the Suffolk II championship game Friday night at Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium. On the Bulldogs’ first possession, halfback David Estrella burst up the middle behind Sokol’s block and raced 64 yards for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead.

“Yeah, bro, we come at your front seven with our front seven, plain and simple,” Manning said. “You have to beat our guys up front and contain our backs.”

North Babylon scored on its first three possessions and took a 20-0 lead at the half. The line of Sokol, guards Joe Kolk and Isaac Stumpf, tackles Terrence Hassel and Keyshawn Phillip and tight ends Rich Sellers and Jalen Blue cleared the way as the Bulldogs rushed for 204 first-half yards and 363 for the game.

North Babylon’s front seven was so dominant that the Bulldogs finished the half with eight first downs to West Islip’s one. Estrella had 129 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries in the first half and 204 on 22 carries for the game. Anthony Sobotker finished with 90 yards and a TD on 11 carries.

The Bulldogs were equally impressive on the defensive side in the first half, holding West Islip to 13 total yards in 20 plays and recording sacks by Sobotker, P.J. Tchinnis and Quadir Russell.

It was more of the same in the second half. On a third-and-1, Estrella followed blocks by Stumpf and Hassel, hurdled a man in the secondary and was gone for a backbreaking 45-yard touchdown for a 27-6 lead with 57 seconds left in the third quarter.

Manning is not a disciple of the spread offense. He is about old-fashioned, hard-nosed football. That philosophy was on full display as North Babylon won its first Suffolk crown since 2009.

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