Plainedge and Sayville will collide in a showdown of unbeatens for the Long Island Class III football title on Saturday. Both programs have dominated their counties, and the similarities of these two teams go way beyond the overall win-loss record.
Plainedge and Sayville have dynamic offensive units that average more than 40 points per game and feature balance between the run and pass and powerful line play.
Both teams can play ferocious defense, especially at the point of attack, where this game will be decided.
Two-time defending Class III champion Plainedge will meet Sayville at Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium at noon in the 30th year of the Long Island Championships.
Plainedge’s consecutive titles came in 2019 and 2021. There was no LIC in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The schools have split two meetings in the LIC. Sayville won in 2015 and Plainedge in 2019.
An air of uncertainty overshadows the championship game. Sayville junior quarterback Jake Tripptree suffered a left shoulder injury in the first half of last week’s Suffolk Division III title win over Westhampton. Tripptree did not return for the second half.
“We’ll find out Friday if the doctor clears him to play,” Sayville coach Reade Sands said. “Jake has been at practice all week but not as a participant. We know he wants to play. We are preparing as if he won’t play.”
When Tripptree was unavailable for the second half, Sayville went to the Wildcat formation, with halfback Kyle Messina taking the shotgun snap. They also used freshman quarterback Pat Coan, who threw a touchdown pass late in the game.
The Golden Flashes will need to find a way to slow down a Plainedge offense that has rolled to double-digit wins all season.
Quarterback Caden Morra has a duo of talented halfbacks in Joe Cassese and Shane Mosia and two outstanding wide receivers in Anthony Gentile and Vinny Cavaliere. The Red Devils have run over Nassau Conference III opponents to the tune of more than 200 yards rushing per game.
Somewhat overshadowed by the high-octane Plainedge offense is its stifling defense, which helped the Red Devils win a fourth Nassau crown in the past five years.
Mosia, the middle linebacker, leads a starting defensive unit that has allowed only three touchdowns in 11 games. And if it comes down to special teams, Plainedge kicker James Corke has been perfect, making all 61 extra-point kicks.
With or without Tripptree, Sayville has a tough hill to climb.
“The LIC is the goal of every player when the season starts,” Sands said. “We know what’s in front of us. We’ll be ready.”