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Rest seemed to be a key for Carey's football success

Carey's Thomas Gallant and Thomas Mayer celebrate after

Carey's Thomas Gallant and Thomas Mayer celebrate after a fumble recovery during the Nassau II football final on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at Hofstra. Credit: James Escher

To squeeze every ounce out of his team's potential, Carey coach Mike Stanley took every measure to keep his players healthy throughout the season.

Separate units for the offensive and defensive lines. Extra rest for starters, who didn't play in the fourth quarter in seven of Carey's eight regular-season games. And in the five days of practice leading up to each of their 12 wins, the Seahawks never wore full pads and never tackled to the ground.

"Not once," Stanley said. "We still practiced at full speed, but we just made sure that we did it in a controlled way that would maximize our opportunities to get better throughout the practice week. And at the same time, we were able to keep guys healthy."

The strategy paid off. The Seahawks appeared just as fresh during their 41-7 win over East Islip in the Long Island Class II championship game as they were in the beginning of the season.

Through their first four games, the Seahawks, who became the first Nassau team to have consecutive 12-0 seasons, had an average margin of victory of 28.8 points. In their four playoff games, they won by an average of 29.5 points.

"There were no collisions at practice, no tackling to the ground," junior quarterback Mike Catanese said. "That's how we stayed fresh, and that led to consistency."

During last season's title run, the Seahawks wore full pads one day each week in practice. In 2014, they scaled down the hitting even more and wore only lower pads. "As long as we weren't seeing a drop-off in how physical we were playing on Saturdays, we could maintain practicing without full equipment," Stanley said.

Not only was there no drop-off on Saturdays, but the effect it had on the team was the opposite. Players couldn't wait to put everything behind a big hit on game day. "Whenever we had a game,'' Catanese said, "it was like letting the dogs off the leash."

The pad-less practices especially helped linebacker Conor Colasurdo, who hurt a shoulder during the summer and entered the season still recovering.

Minus the heavy hitting during the week, Colasurdo was not forced to miss any playing time and was able to go full steam on game days while still progressing. By Week Seven, he said he was back at 100 percent. In Week 12, he forced a fumble to set up the go-ahead score and returned a punt 57 yards for a touchdown as Carey won its second straight Long Island title.

"It helped everyone. The no- pads thing kept everyone fresh all week," he said. "It was a big part of why we were healthy throughout the playoffs."

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