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Oceanside’s defense secures a Nassau I football title

Oceanside teammates celebrate after their 17-0 win over

Oceanside teammates celebrate after their 17-0 win over Freeport in the Nassau I football final at Hofstra on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. Credit: James Escher

The rain was heavy. The wind was strong. The turf field could have used a sign that read “Slippery When Wet.’’ What a perfect night for a maiden voyage.

Top-seeded Oceanside used a mighty defense and an efficient offense to sink third-seeded Freeport, 17-0, on Saturday night in the Nassau I championship game at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Oceanside coach Rob Blount said after the Sailors earned their first trip to the Long Island Championships. “I’m just so excited for the kids and the program.”

Oceanside (11-0) will face Lindenhurst in the Long Island Class I championship game next Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium. Freeport finished 8-3.

The Sailors scored on their first two drives — a 10-yard touchdown pass from Tommy Heuer to Dylan Judd and a 24-yard field goal by Francesco Ancona — and turned the game over to its defense. “It’s been the story all year. The defense has been lights out,” Blount said. “It gets overlooked because of our offense, but they’re very good.”

Oceanside limited explosive Freeport to 70 yards of total offense, including 19 in the first half on 15 plays. Defensive lineman Mike Scibelli led the way with two sacks and three tackles for losses among his seven tackles. Leo Alvarez (seven tackles), Bryan Aguilar (five) and Derek Cruz (four) also were defensive forces.

“It starts with the big guys up front,” Blount said of Scibelli and Vincent Schell, who clogged the middle and had a sack among his three tackles. “That gives Aguilar and Judd and those guys an opportunity to fly all over the place.”

A deliriously dripping-wet Scibelli exclaimed, “It’s the best defense in the county and on Long Island! We’re fast. We get after it. You can’t underestimate us. I think we’ve been underestimated a lot this year, but we showed today we can keep up with our own offense.”

Freeport, led by Robert Fitzsimmons (12 tackles) and Ikce Quiles (10 tackles), did a decent job on the Sailors, who were averaging 38 points a game coming into the county final.

Heuer continued his season of precision, completing 15 of 20 passes for 150 yards, including the touchdown pass to Judd. It was Heuer’s 36th TD pass, two shy of the Nassau record of 38 set by Lawrence’s Joe Capobianco in 2012. Heuer has thrown for 2,661 yards with only two interceptions.

Once the Sailors built their early lead, Heuer was content to hand off to Cruz (132 yards on 19 carries, including a 40-yard TD run with 57 seconds left in the third quarter) or run it himself (44 yards on 12 carries). Cruz carried eight straight times, including gains of 29 and 16 yards, in a clock-killing, game-clinching drive in the fourth quarter.

His touchdown was set up by Judd’s interception at the Oceanside 37 on a fourth-and-5 play. “It was kind of like a scramble drill,” Judd said. “I read the quarterback’s eyes and was able to jump the route.”

If there was one sequence that demonstrated Oceanside’s defensive superiority, it came midway through the second quarter after the Red Devils, trailing 10-0, had moved across midfield on Terrance Edmond’s 28-yard completion to Aaje Grayson.

First down: Grayson dropped for a 7-yard loss by Scibelli and Edward Mannone.

Second down: Edmond sacked for a 9-yard loss by Scibelli.

Third down: Edmond sacked for a 7-yard loss by Aguilar.

“All year our defense has been incredible,” Judd said. “A shutout in the county championship game!”

And a one-day sail they’ll never forget.

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