Another week, another new member of the 100-victory club.
That's one sub-plot to the first three weeks of the 2014 football season as three Suffolk County coaches each won their 100th game.
In Week 1, Rick Punzone of Babylon won his 100th when the Panthers defeated Greenport/Southold, 35-0, on Sept. 12. Punzone's career record currently stands at 101-20 since he began coaching at Babylon in 2003. He has guided the Panthers to four Long Island championships and, according to Newsday records, reached the 100-win plateau faster than any coach in Long Island history.
In Week 2, Leif Shay of Riverhead earned his 100th with a 39-27 victory over Smithtown East on Sept. 20. His record since starting at Riverhead in 1998 is 101-58 and includes one undefeated, Long Island championship season in 2008.
In Week 3, Rob Hoss of Sayville notched his 100th as the Golden Flashes beat Westhampton, 46-21, last Saturday. Hoss is 100-28 since taking over at Sayville in 2002. He has won four Long Island championships.
Both Hoss and Shay were matter-of-fact about their milestone victories. "One hundred wins is more about the kids, my coaches and the community than it is about me," Shay said.
"I have great kids who buy in," Hoss said. "And I've got an unbelievable coaching staff that probably deserves more credit and I probably deserve less. A hundred wins says you've been around long enough to have had a lot of success. This community supports football and I'm blessed to be part of it."
Despite the championships on their resumes, both Shay and Hoss cited something else when asked what they remember most among their first 100 wins. "The first time we beat North Babylon was probably my memorable moment," Shay said of a 21-20 regular-season victory in 2003 that ended the Bulldogs' 13-game winning streak.
Hoss acknowledged that his first LIC in 2004 was "memorable because you get a taste of what it's like to be the best."
But, he said his first winning season, in 2003, was most important to his career.
"We were 3-5 in my first year and I wondered if coaching was too much for me," he said. "Did I bite off more than I could chew as a young coach? But the fact that we were able to go 5-3 with an over-achieving team was a defining moment for the program. After that, I knew I could survive."