There were some preseason whispers of doubt about Sayville in the Long Island football underground. Sure, Jack Coan was returning at quarterback and there were a couple of veteran defensive studs in Liam Bailey and Mike Leach. But perennial power East Islip was moving down from Suffolk II to Suffolk III with an experienced team that was voted the No. 1 seed. Just how good would the Golden Flashes be in 2015?
“We had graduated the bulk of our skill kids and quite a few of our linemen, so there were a lot of question marks about whether we could get back to LIC,” Sayville coach Rob Hoss, a 2015 Newsday coach of the year, acknowledged. “How long would it take for four young wide receivers and a young running back to gel?”
The answers were not delivered in whispers but rather in loud statements every week, as Sayville concluded a 12-0 season with a resounding 59-15 victory over previously unbeaten Plainedge in the Long Island Class III championship game last Sunday.
“This feels so great right now,” Coan, a 2015 Newsday All-Long Island selection, said during the postgame celebration on the turf at Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium after he had made history by rushing for 227 yards and passing for 294 more. No player had ever exceeded 200 yards in both categories in 24 years of Long Island championships. “At the beginning of the season, a lot of people didn’t believe in us. But I’ve been playing with a lot of these guys since I was little so I knew we’d have this opportunity.”
Among Coan’s childhood pals were running back Ashton Brown and wide receivers Mike Dionisio, Jake Kolar and Jason Intermesoli, all juniors like Coan and all of whom contributed mightily to an offense that averaged 42.4 points per game. Brown overcame injuries and a shaky start to become a legitimate running threat, gaining 537 yards and scoring four of his 11 rushing TDs in the LIC. Dionisio (44 catches, 589 yards, 10 TDs), Kolar (35, 636, 6) and Intermesoli (26, 356, 5) joined senior Nick Casazza (29, 528, 8) in a formidable foursome that helped Coan pass for 2,499 yards and 36 TDs.
Coan expanded his game dramatically, rushing for 1,275 yards and 17 TDs after rarely running as a sophomore when he set Long Island records for passing yards (3,431) and touchdowns (40). In Week 6, eyes widened when Coan sparked a 49-17 victory over East Islip by rushing for 309 yards. “That far eclipsed beyond what any of us imagined,” Hoss said. “After that game, we thought we could win this thing.”
And while all season the spotlight fell on Coan and the offense, the defense was performing its own magic. Led by Newsday All-Long Island inside linebacker Bailey (107 total tackles), inside linebackers Leach and Kevin Kolar and down linemen Julian Boesch-Jones, Dennis Hanley and Dan Martucci, the Golden Flashes allowed only 14.2 points per game.
The unit held Plainedge’s elite running quarterback Davien Kuinlan (who had a Nassau record 2,719 yards including a Long Island record 485 in the Nassau III title game) to a season-low 87 yards in the LIC.
Leach, a senior, was buoyant after his final game. “We’re a family and I love them all to death,” he exclaimed. “I can’t believe it.”
It was a season of turning doubters into believers for the Golden Flashes.
GOLDEN FLASHES’ road to the championship
Rocky Point, 56-14
East Islip, 21-7
Long Island championship