With Jack Cheshire setting records through the air, Sayville is a win away from its first Long Island title since 2015, when a different record-breaking Jack was at the helm.
The Golden Flashes have more than just their prolific quarterback to thank though, as their offense also features no shortage of playmakers, while their defense has been shutting down opponents for much of the season.
Much of that surrounding talent was a known quantity coming into the season, while Cheshire himself had everything to prove.
“Over the past few years, we’ve had some incredible quarterbacks, but the thing that’s different about Jack is he almost came out of nowhere,” coach Reade Sands said of Cheshire, who threw 41 touchdowns this season to break former Sayville star Jack Coan’s record of 40 (set in 2014).
“We knew what we had with those other guys, but Cheshire didn’t even start in junior varsity,” he added. The limited experience has hardly been an impediment to his production, and Sands said his awareness and knowledge of the game have been on display.
Cheshire broke the record in last week’s 28-10 Class III county championship victory over East Islip, earning the Golden Flashes a Long Island Championship matchup with Plainedge at noon on Friday at Stony Brook.
The junior has thrown for 3,052 yards this season, while completing 68% of his passes and averaging 10.8 yards per attempt with only eight interceptions.
“He's intelligent, he has a quick release, he understands coverages,” Sands said. “He knows what receivers to look for, how to look off safeties, and does all the little things that great quarterbacks do.”
Having a dangerous crew of pass-catchers, including the likes of Brock Murtha, CJ Messina and Nate Casaburi, doesn't hurt either.
Murtha has 60 receptions and has been one of the Island’s top receivers this year. His 19 touchdowns lead the Island, while his 1,019 receiving yards are second, per Newsday records.
“He’s probably one of the best receivers that Suffolk county has seen,” Sands said. “[Defenses] then have to double him and deal with the other receivers, who are pretty darn good.”
Casaburi has added 27 receptions, 400 yards and eight touchdowns, while Messina lines up all over the field and has 24 catches for 444 yards and eight scores himself. Jason Gensch compliments the big-play threats by serving as a possession receiver.
The Sayville running game is led by Alex Millwatter and Ty Kolar, with Messina getting reps in the backfield as well.
Cheshire and the offense have grabbed headlines, but it is only one part of the equation for a team that has outscored its opponents by over 19 points per game.
Sayville’s defense has more than done its part in 2019 as well, holding opponents to 16.9 points per game while allowing just 34 total points in its three playoff victories.
“We’re rallying to the football, we’re tackling and the guys really understand their roles,” Sands said. “They’ve bought into the fact that we’re going to play really good defense and that every play counts.”
The efforts here have been spearheaded by defensive lineman Max Llewellyn, who has seven sacks in his last two games.
“He takes up two or three kids at a time,” Sands said. “And if you single block him, he’s going to get a sack or force the quarterback out of the pocket. You have to gameplan for him and if you don’t, it’s a problem.”
Sayville LIC Results
Year, Opponent, Result, Score
1998: Glen Cove, won, 51-6
2004: Wantagh, won, 55-14
2006: Bethpage, won, 48-6
2008: Bethpage, won, 13-7, OT
2010: Lynbrook, lost, 42-26
2011: Lawrence, won, 78-61
2012: Lawrence, lost, 21-20
2014: Lawrence, lost, 40-35
2015: Plainedge, won, 59-15