For one glorious moment, a split-second in time, Sachem once again was whole.
Last Saturday night at Stony Brook's LaValle Stadium, as the final seconds ticked down on the final football game of the 2013 season, coaches from Sachem East showed school-district solidarity. They celebrated on the sidelines as they watched Sachem North put the finishing touches on a thrilling Long Island Class I championship game, bringing home the trophy to the district for the first time in history -- before or after the split in 2004 that created two high schools out of what had been the largest suburban high school in the state.
"Sachem has a long and proud football history," North coach Dave Falco said. "To be able to accomplish this after getting so close before and after all the injuries . . . it's very special. All the great teams that came before us had a hand in this."
The biggest hand belonged to senior Malik Pierre, who blocked a Farmingdale punt in the fourth quarter that turned into a decisive 10-point play. The Flaming Arrows recorded a safety when Pierre deflected the ball out of the end zone and then, after receiving the free kick, drove for a touchdown and two-point conversion that produced a 27-21 come-from-behind victory.
It was a long time coming. Despite recent regular-season success, the Arrows had been eliminated by Floyd in the previous four playoffs and had lost to the Colonials six straight times overall. But North vanquished those demons in the Suffolk I title game, a 28-7 win over Floyd in which Pierre accounted for touchdowns by running, passing and receiving.
Justin Rivera lent a hand, too. The senior linebacker made a game-saving hit in the end zone on a two-point conversion pass to preserve a 14-13 win over Connetquot in the county semifinals, and made 12.5 tackles in the LIC, helping the Arrows shut out potent Farmingdale in the second half.
Senior Trent Crossan also had a hand in the playoff run, returning from his latest injury to score the game-winning touchdown against the Dalers on a 15-yard run. "It feels so good. It's indescribable," Crossan said.
"To see the smile on Trent's face -- and on the faces of all the seniors -- is unbelievable," Falco said.
Pierre was one of several players that tearfully kissed the championship trophy. "This is the greatest feeling ever," Pierre said. "Coach Falco gave us a pep talk and told us if we won, we would be immortal."