Members of Sayville's 1972 Suffolk Large School Champion team were on...

Members of Sayville's 1972 Suffolk Large School Champion team were on hand to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their win during a Suffolk Division III football game against East Islip on \ October 15, 2022 in Sayville. Credit: Dawn McCormick

One of the standout teams in Long Island’s rich high school football history was reunited on Saturday.

The members of the 1972 Sayville squad returned from places as close as the town center and Patchogue and as far as Georgia, Florida and Virginia as the school marked the 50th anniversary of their capture of the Suffolk Large Schools championship and Rutgers Cup, awarded annually to the best team in the county.

Approximately 23 of the 37 members were there or represented from an undefeated Golden Flashes team that rallied to beat East Islip 15-12 on Nov. 18, 1972 at Central Islip. They were introduced before the game and participated in the coin toss before Sayville squared off against — you guessed it — East Islip at its Buderman Field.

The Flashes won, 36-15.

“We were a team that would have beaten anybody,” said Bill Connors, who played defensive end. “We were full of talented guys and we were very close. Any time some of us have been together, it takes five minutes for the years to melt away and bonds to be there again.”

It was a chance to reminisce. There were stories about one of the great passing combinations from the annals of the Island: quarterback Chad Smith to wide receiver Derek Smith. There were tales about the full-house backfield of fullback Bill Bachsmith, tailback Steve Moline and wingback Hector Meletich. And, of course there were memories of late coach Ed Madden, whose daughter Christine Madden-Johnson was on hand to participate.

“They were known as ‘Smith-to-Smith — no relation’ — you always had to say ‘no relation’ — and they had a bunch of long scoring plays that season,” said Wayne Lunati, who played linebacker on defense and guard on offense.

“We knew each other so well and had such great chemistry,” said Derek Smith, who lives in Georgia and is part of the ownership group for the NFL Falcons. “He knew all my moves and where I’d want the ball. And I knew he would always put it right on my hands.”

The late Chad Smith was represented by his sister, Tracee Smith Jasuta.

There was a lot to ruminate about with that ’72 Sayville team. In nine games, it outscored opponents 377-94. It trailed East Islip 12-0 after three quarters in the title game before rallying to victory. The Flashes capped the season by routing traditional Thanksgiving rival Bayport 42-0 to finish 9-0.

Smith and Smith were Newsday all-Long Island first-team and were both anointed all-state.

There were some emotional moments as well. The team endured some heartbreaking moments together as five members died in the first handful of years after graduation. They were top of mind as a moment of silence was observed for them and others who passed away since.

“We helped each other get through some tragedies,” Bachsmith said. “We were there for each other through that and I can tell we’d still be there for each other in the same way today.”


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