For the Plainedge football team, one of its greatest strengths this season has proven to be the overwhelmingly stingy defensive unit, which has allowed only seven points all season.
So it was only natural that the defense made a tone-setting play just three snaps into Saturday afternoon’s matchup with Bethpage.
After giving up just a yard on back-to-back carries to open the game, the Plainedge defense swarmed to the ball once again on third down and forced a fumble. Carlo DeGiacomi recovered the loose ball and returned it for a 20-yard touchdown that gave Plainedge a lead they held the rest of the way, as they defeated Bethpage 41-0 in a Nassau Conference III football game.
Plainedge remained undefeated at 5-0, while Bethpage fell to 3-2.
"I knew we were close to the end zone so as soon as I saw the ball I just wanted to scoop it up and get in the end zone," DeGiacomi said. "Got points up, got the other team down on themselves and just put our foot down."
For Plainedge coach Rob Shaver, speed is the name of the game for his defense.
"I think we just practice hard," Shaver said. "Our kids are good tacklers and they bought into the system. Our defensive coordinator comes up with a great strategy every week. We have pretty good athletes when they’re running around at full speed. We always tell them that if they know where they’re going they can get there fast."
DeGiacomi later tacked on a 6-yard rushing touchdown with 8:19 remaining in the second following Joe Iadevio’s touchdown run from 14 yards out to give Plainedge a 21-0 advantage entering halftime. DeGiacomi rushed four times for 38 yards and added two receptions for 18 yards.
Iadevaio then began the second half with an explosive play of his own, returning the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.
"I had a lot of blockers," said Iadevaio, who carried five times for 50 yards and a touchdown, as well as three catches for 47 yards. "Our guys got hands on them and I saw a hole. It was great and it was a team effort. I can’t do that without the blocking."
Plainedge quarterback Travis Shaver completed 11 of 13 passes for 116 yards. He also carried the ball nine times for 34 yards and a touchdown.
After Plainedge lost to Manhasset in the county final last spring, DeGiacomi said the defeat remains on the team’s mind and has brought an increased level of focus every week this season.
"We’re very motivated," DeGiacomi said. "We just want to get back there and win. We don’t care who’s in front of us. We just want to get the job done."