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Oceanside passing great Charlie McKee uses his legs to beat Syosset

Charlie McKee #7, Oceanside quarterback, left, gets congratulated

Charlie McKee #7, Oceanside quarterback, left, gets congratulated by teammate Michael Mecca #4 after running for a touchdown that broke a 10-10 tie with Syosset in the third quarter of a Nassau County Conference I football game at Syosset High School on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021.  Credit: James Escher

His coronation can wait. Right now, all Charlie McKee cares about is the wins.

McKee, the stellar Oceanside senior quarterback and returning Newsday Thorp Award winner, arrived with the Sailors to play at Syosset with his inevitable ascent to become Nassau County’s all-time passing yardage leader in reach. He was averaging 276 yards in the air per start and needed 257 to make him No. 1. But a stiff and relentless 18 mph wind, with gusts up to 25, ended that possibility early.

It didn’t, however, take the wind out of the Oceanside’s sails. The Sailors rebounded from a 10-point deficit in the second quarter, found a second wind of their own, and reeled off 24 unanswered points to pull out a 24-16 Nassau Conference I victory.

Oceanside (5-1) overtook Syosset (4-2) in the standings and sits in the drivers’ seat for the No. 2 postseason seed with two games remaining, including a tough finale at Freeport.

"We had to pull things together down 10-0," McKee said. "We regrouped and came out shooting. We’re a pass-first team . . . but we can run it."

"It’s a momentum game," Syosset coach Paul Rorke said. "We didn’t answer in the moments we had to and that how [Oceanside got] 24 unanswered."

McKee is much more than just a passer and a Sailors line that includes Joey Broderick, Anthony Corvino and Ray Diaz can do a lot more than pass block. McKee, one week after missing a game because of concussion protocols, used all of his 6-1 and 205 pounds to rush for 106 yards on 19 carries including a 19-yard touchdown run.

He completed 11 of 17 passes for 98 yards and two scores, bringing his season total to 14.

"He’s really a tailback and just happens to be the best passer in the county," Oceanside coach Rob Blount said. "He did a great job, especially running at the end to close them out."

The Sailors pulled even with Syosset at 10 when McKee found Michael Mecca open behind the defense for a 16-yard TD on the team's first possession of the second half. A huge sack by Logan Lyson helped Oceanside force Syosset to punt on the ensuing possession and an 8-yard punt into that stiff wind put the Sailors on Syosset's 27-yard line. McKee needed two carries to take it in for a 17-10 lead with 1:45 left in the third quarter.

Syosset also has one of Nassau’s best passing attacks. Signal-caller Matt Ranges was 17-for-24 passing for 180 yards and two touchdowns, but his one miscue proved a back-breaker. On the second play of the fourth quarter, Miles McGann stepped in front of the intended receiver for an interception and returned it to Syosset's 21. Six rushes later, McKee rolled out, drew in the defense and connected with McGann on a wheel route for 13-yard score and a 24-10 lead.

"It’s a play we practiced all week and I thought we were going to get it," McGann said. "The wind was a factor, but we started getting used to it as the game went on."

Ranges hit a blanketed and diving Robert Trapeo for a 17-yard touchdown to make it 24-16 after a failed conversion, but McKee ran out the clock by rushing six times — four for first downs — before taking a knee.

McKee will go into Friday’s home game with East Meadow needing 159 yards to surpass the passing yards record set by Lawrence’s Joe Capobianco in 2013.

"I don’t think about the records, I am thinking about a championship," McKee said. "I’ve played in two, we didn’t win either and this is my senior season, my last chance. That’s all I care about this season."

ALL-TIME NASSAU PASSING LEADERS

McKee’s totals are through five games this season.

All-time Nassau public schools passing yards leaders

Yards Name, School Years

8,013 Joe Capobianco, Lawrence 2011-13

7,757 Charlie McKee, Oceanside 2018-21

5,617 Nick Frenger, Plainedge 2010-13

4,995 P.J. Preziosa, Lawrence 2004-07

4,894 Aaron Ruthman, Elmont 2015-16

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