Owen West #4, South Side quarterback, throws a pass during...

Owen West #4, South Side quarterback, throws a pass during the Nassau County Conference III football semifinal against Plainedge at Shuart Stadium, located on the campus of Hofstra University, on Friday, Nov. 10, 2023. Credit: James Escher

If it wasn’t for Plainedge, South Side would have had a perfect regular season. So, when the two schools faced off in a Nassau Conference III football semifinal Friday night, the Cyclones had to settle for the next-perfect-thing.

Owen West threw three touchdown passes as South Side rolled to a 35-0 win over the Red Devils at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.

“We came into this season thinking we weren’t going to lose a single game,” West said. “So that definitely made us mad when they ruined our season. But we came out tonight even hungrier, with a better game plan and we were able to execute.”

“I’m so proud of these boys,” coach Phil Onesto said. “Plainedge has dominated Conference III for a long time, so winning against them makes it even sweeter.”

Lineman Michael Muscarella opened the scoring for South Side with a fumble recovery in the end zone with 2:27 left in the first quarter.

“I came off the edge and saw the guy in the end zone fumble the snap," Muscarella said. “My first instinct was to just jump on the ball. There were a lot of nerves there, so this definitely broke the ice for us and got us going.”

West, who completed 7 of 11 passes for 172 yards, found a wide-open Jack Boyens for a 49-yard touchdown pass with 6:37 left in the first half to put South Side up 14-0.

“I dropped back and knew there was going to be a lot of pressure," West said. "Boyens ran a wheel route and there he was just wide-open, and we made a play."

West's other touchdown passes — a 12-yarder to Michael Melkonian later in the second quarter and a 35-yarder to Michael Aiello in the third — extended the lead to 28-0.

“My line, I love those guys,” West said. “They're the reason I was able to do what I did. They saw me get hit a couple of times last week, and this week they didn’t want me to get hurt, so they just hung in there and were very protective overall.”

South Side's defense was led by Aiello, who had 11 tackles and a sack. Jack Lozito added seven tackles and Bobby Galindo, Billy Gryboski and Brayden Gamberg each had a sack.

Muscarella credited the Cyclones' defensive success to defensive coordinator, Keith Lussuk. 

“Coach Lussuk put in a great plan,” Muscarella said. “Every formation, we knew what to do and our defensive line didn’t let them get anything.”

Justin Singh punctuated the victory with a 58-yard touchdown run with 6:22 remaining.

South Side will look to win its first county title since 2001 when it faces No. 4 Floral Park in the Nassau Conference III final next Friday, Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at Hofstra.

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