Sayville’s defense boldly accepted two challenges for its Long Island Class III championship showdown with Plainedge: One was obvious: Win the game. One was personal: Don’t become part of history.
Linebacker Liam Bailey was helpful on both fronts. The senior made 11 total tackles in a 59-15 victory, playing a key role in holding Davien Kuinlan to a season-low 87 yards and preventing him from gaining the 251 yards needed to break the Long Island single-season rushing record held by Jason Gwaltney of North Babylon.
“We knew Kuinlan would be gunning for the record. That put a little chip on our shoulders,” Bailey said. “We not only wanted to win the game but we wanted to stop him.”
Bailey was a stopper all season with 107 total tackles and two interceptions, which is why he was voted the Bob Collotta Award as the best linebacker in Suffolk County. “He was the foundation of our defense all season,” Sayville coach Rob Hoss said. “He was mostly our ‘Mike’ linebacker, but against a running quarterback like Kuinlan, we moved him around.”
Mobility was a big part of Bailey’s game, as he led the team in tackles, and was the anchor of a defense that routinely was overshadowed by the celebrated offense led by Jack Coan. “Our offense is great, but we were excited to put on a show during crunch time,” Bailey said. “Our defense really stepped up in the playoffs.”
Bailey was one of a handful of seniors who experienced heartbreak in the 2014 LIC, a last-minute loss to Lawrence, which is why he was one of the happiest players after their victory on Nov. 29 at Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium. “To finish my career by going 12-0 and winning the LIC, there’s no better way to do it,” Bailey said