Plainedge on Saturday put an end to a pair of compelling Nassau Conference III storylines. The first was that Bethpage, once a titan of Long Island football, has returned to pre-eminence. The other was that Plainedge, a powerhouse in a recent years, had its sheen of invincibility stripped away after a loss two weeks ago to Manhasset.
Plainedge reasserted itself as a top program and county title contender in Nassau III with a resounding 27-0 defeat of host Bethpage. The Red Devils not only cast Eagles’ resurgence as suspect, but also showed that how capable it is of defending its title. Plainedge (4-1) completed the feat with senior quarterback Travis Shaver limited to only a handful of downs because an ankle injury.
Plainedge scored 20 second-half points to put this one away. Dylan Pepe capped a three-touchdown performance with 33- and 16-yard touchdowns in the second half after a six-yard TD before the intermission.
Joe Iadevaio threw a 54-yard touchdown pass to Joe Leone in the third quarter.
"There’s no question that we’re young," Plainedge coach Rob Shaver said. "But I see us building toward something. This might be the time to get us, because we are going to be very good next year with this set of players coming back."
Bethpage seemed to understand its limitation. In the fourth quarter, and down 20-0, it went for a fourth down from its own 29. But its pass fell incomplete. Three plays later Plainedge was back in the end zone after Leone’s 13-yard run.
Bethpage (3-1) still has an avenue to the playoffs with a win next week against Roosevelt.
"Losing to Manhasset was a setback," Shaver said. "But we are trending up. I feel like we’re improving every week. I don’t think this football team has found its (apex). . . . We have a lot of players who can do a lot of things, They are developing every week."
To shut down the Eagles, Plainedge needed strong play on the line. Anthony Morello, Sal Kuna and Thomas Everding perfomed exceptionally, halting the Bethpage running attack and forcing the Eagles into tough situations.
"I have to have a lot of respect for how our line played in this game,'' Shaver said. "This is where the game was won and lost. We are growing as a team and it was right there."
Early in the third quarter, Pepe broke three tackles and went 16 yards for a 14-0 lead.
"We played a more dominant style right there," Shaver said. "Bethpage is tough and they grind. But we did well there to get those points. Our guys are getting important experience going into the postseason."