The last time Oceanside had an undefeated regular season, gasoline cost 23 cents a gallon and postage stamps cost three cents each. It was midway through the fabulous fifties, 1955 to be precise, and Oceanside won all eight of its games in the pre-playoff era.
Sixty years later, the Sailors are once again perfect, but this time their voyage isn't over.
Quarterback Vinny Guarino scored from 2 yards and Francesco Ancona added the extra point for the only points of the fourth quarter as host Oceanside held off gritty Massapequa, 28-27, Saturday to complete an 8-0 regular season that clinched a No. 1 seed for the upcoming Nassau I football playoffs.
"We got the one!" Oceanside coach Rob Blount jubilantly told his players after the game upon hearing the news that Valley Stream Central had beaten Hicksville, which allowed the Sailors to slip past unbeaten Farmingdale for the top spot.
"This is so great for these kids because we were 2-6 last year," Blount said. "We put the ball in the seniors' hands and those kids just grew up, big time."
Guarino (7-for-11 passing for 186 yards and two TDs) is one of those seniors in this special season. The three-year starter doesn't always compile impressive statistics, but he makes big plays at big moments. That was the case in the fourth quarter Saturday.
He waltzed into the end zone from 2 yards on a quarterback draw with 10:04 remaining to conclude a drive that began with 2:53 left in the third quarter and allowed Ancona to supply the deciding extra point. The drive, which began at the Oceanside 25, erased a 27-21 Massapequa lead and included a 45-yard completion to Nick Mari, another senior, who had caught a 72-yard touchdown pass on a screen in the second quarter.
The Chiefs (4-4) had plenty of time, but on third-and-9 from their own 38-yard line, Justin Lyskey was sacked by senior defensive end Aronis Espinal for a 12-yard loss that forced a punt. Massapequa never got the ball back.
That's because Guarino (61 yards, 17 carries) and two more seniors, running back Brandy Diaz (127 yards, 19 carries) and James Paczkowski (caught a 5-yard TD pass) were able to run out the clock with 10 consecutive runs that brought the ball to the Massapequa 7. Guarino's 3-yard gain for a first down with 1:04 left drained the last of Massapequa's timeouts and allowed the Sailors to line up in the victory formation and take two knees.
"We had the matchups we wanted for me to run the ball," said Guarino, who carried six times on the last drive. "Once we get rolling, we are hard to stop. It's an amazing feeling. The seniors knew we had to come out and have a big season."
They needed to produce because Massapequa, despite injuries to key players, was a tough opponent. The Chiefs turned a trick play into a treat when Casey Kimmel grabbed an onside kick, burst through several tacklers and raced 49 yards for a second-quarter touchdown. Tommy Macri bolted 64 yards for a touchdown on a sweep early in the third quarter to give Massapequa a 19-14 lead.
Lyskey, a receiver who has had to fill in at quarterback because of injuries, ran for 75 yards, including a 24-yard TD, and he completed 12 of 14 passes for 96 yards.
But Massapequa couldn't stop Guarino on the final drive. "That's my guy," Blount said. "We'll go down with No. 18 carrying the ball."
The Sailors haven't gone down yet, 60 years after the last perfect season.