The sweat that went into the long summer workouts was worth every drop. The late nights in the weight room and the endless repetitions to perfect the rushing offense also were worth every minute of work.
After replacing the entire offensive line, North Babylon coach Terry Manning and his staff might have done their finest job in his 27 years.
David Estrella rushed for 204 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries as the Bulldogs rolled past West Islip, 30-6, in the Suffolk II championship game Friday night at Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium before more than 3,000.
North Babylon (10-1) will meet Garden City (11-0) for the Long Island Class II championship at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.
“We have a new front seven on the lines and I have to give it to them, they really came together,” said Manning, celebrating his ninth county title and first since 2009. “When it’s blocked right, it looks like tonight. We were about as good as it gets out there.”
The Bulldogs, who scored on their first three possessions, opened a 13-0 lead when Estrella scored on a 64-yard run up the middle and added a 2-yard TD run with 12 seconds left in the first quarter. Both drives covered 78 yards, the first in four plays and the second in nine.
“David is our star player and he works his magic and makes great things happen,” center Nick Sokol said. “But without us, there would be nothing. The mindset is that we ground and pound, and you grow up in North Babylon hearing about it all the time. It’s the tradition. And now I’m a part of it.”
Anthony Sobotker, who gained 90 yards on 11 carries, bolted up the middle for a 57-yard touchdown and a 20-0 lead with 11:37 left in the half.
“We couldn’t get anything going offensively,” West Islip coach Steve Mileti said. “And they hit the seam a few times early and scored on some big runs. They do what they do and they do it well.”
North Babylon, helped by the offensive line of Sokol, guards Joe Kolk and Isaac Stumpf, tackles Terrence Hassel and Keyshawn Phillip and tight ends Rich Sellers and Jalen Blue, rushed for 204 yards in the first half and 363 for the game.
“I just follow my guys and give them all the credit,” Estrella said. “I know what they’ve put into this to turn our dreams into reality. They are my brothers.”
West Islip quarterback Mike LaDonna drew the Lions (8-3) within 20-6 when he broke a 73-yard TD run with 4:10 left in the third quarter.
“We’re young and we have a lot of heart,” Mileti said. “It’s never easy when you can’t finish what you set out to do. But with six starting sophomores, we’ll be fine. But tonight [North Babylon] played a great game.”
Estrella’s 45-yard touchdown run gave North Babylon a 27-6 lead after three quarters.
“He’s another great back in a long line of them at our school,” Manning said. “He’s solid steel, a player who never coasts and leads by example. He’s a typical North Babylon football player.”
Estrella laughed when he said he didn’t think it would hurt if North Babylon passed a little more. He caught the only pass thrown by quarterback Ross Tallarico for 16 yards and a first down in the first quarter to set up his 2-yard scoring run.
After thinking about it, he said with a laugh, “We’ll stick to the run. It’s what we do.”