The road to the LIC is a long one. One that features a variety of twists and turns and a multitude of peaks and valleys. Throughout the last three seasons, Roosevelt has been able to navigate the path almost effortlessly. In each of those campaigns, the Rough Riders have reached the final game of the year, only to come up short.
Last year's 27-26 loss to Babylon was perhaps the most disheartening of them all. But what once was a bad memory now serves as motivation for those still wearing the yellow jerseys of this recent Nassau dynasty.
"Sometimes, I wish I could take back some of the plays that [I thought] were bad calls or that I messed up on," wide receiver/defensive back Denzel Barnes said. "But it's motivated me to play better . . . It gave us motivation to step up and be a better team this year."
Of the three catches Barnes made last year, two of them were touchdowns. He'll be helped by Justin Terry, a senior who will play opposite Barnes as a receiver after playing quarterback last year.
Stephon Vailes, a sophomore, will quarterback the Rough Riders.
"This young quarterback plays like an older quarterback," Barnes said. "I like this kid. He throws the ball well."
Barnes is also a force on defense, making 22 tackles with five interceptions last year.
Shamari Kirkpatrick will cary the load at running back, coming off a 447-yard, nine-touchdown season. He also made 25 tackles as a linebacker.
Locust Valley, the two seed, will look to bump Roosevelt off its throne. John Pedranghelu is dangerous as both a running back and a defensive back. Mineola and Seaford also will challenge. Seaford's Patrick Bizzarro is dangerous on both sides of the ball, rushing for eight touchdowns and making 39 tackles with two interceptions last season.