Entering this season, there weren’t many question marks surrounding the Plainedge football team.
The Red Devils returned their quarterback, Dan Villari, and a bevy of skill position players off their 2018 county championship squad. But as any football person will tell you, a team is only as successful as its offensive and defensive lines, and Plainedge knew that.
None of the members of this season’s offensive line played major minutes in varsity games on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons last year, but in the days leading up to the games, they were competing against some of the best at practice.
When it was their time this season, the offensive line of Jason Lascala, Tom Everding, Alex Abrams, Pat Whidden and captain Christopher Gentile proved ready. Friday evening was no exception, as the unit paved the way for 331 rushing yards as top-seeded Plainedge defeated No. 2 South Side, 41-13, in the Nassau Conference III championship game at Hofstra.
“We came into the season and everyone said we didn’t have the offensive line to do it; we had the skills but we didn’t have the line,” said Gentile, Plainedge’s center. “So we knew from December when we lost in the LIC last year that we wanted it all, and the only thing on our mind was to get our five linemen and get going.
“We want to come out here every day and push and push until our running backs walk into the end zone untouched.”
Plainedge (11-0) rushed for six touchdowns, including four in the first half, on Friday night. Villari and Dion Kuinlan each rushed for two scores in the opening half as Plainedge gained 191 yards on 25 carries in the opening 24 minutes. Each added a rushing TD in the second half.
Next up will be the toughest challenge yet for the offensive line, which features only two seniors, in the Long Island Class III championship game against Sayville at noon on Friday at Stony Brook University.
“It’s a big challenge,” Gentile said. “We’re obviously not as big as them, but we play very hard and we don’t stop until we’re on that sideline and we know we’re going to win that game. We’ve been the smaller line all year and we’ve clearly put up big numbers.”