The film doesn’t lie. What you see is what you get.
And the way South Side coach Phil Onesto sees it when he watches game tape of East Islip, it’s almost as if he’s seeing his own team.
“We really are a mirror image of each other,” Onesto said of two teams that feature athletic offenses and top-notch defenses. “There are so many similarities. We need to play to our capabilities and limit mistakes to win this game.”
South Side (10-1) will meet East Islip (9-2) in the Long Island Class III championship game at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.
It’s South Side’s second appearance in the Long Island Championships. It last played in the LIC in 2001, when it led Bellport 19-18 at halftime before losing, 42-19.
“It was my senior year,” said Onesto, who played on that team. “They were a much bigger team and wore us down in the second half.”
East Islip is making its fifth LIC appearance, losing its past three games, including a 26-16 loss to Plainedge in 2021. It has captured one title with a 35-7 victory over Lawrence in 2007.
This is the first meeting between these two programs.
“When I watch the tapes on South Side, I see a very athletic team and a diverse offense,” East Islip coach Sal J. Ciampi said. “They’ve won 10 games and looked very good on both sides of the ball. It’s going to be a terrific challenge for us to match up with them.”
South Side suffered a devastating loss this week when it was learned that senior captain and star halfback Jack Lozito, the team’s leading rusher, tore a ligament in his foot.
“He must have played the second half in last week’s Nassau championship on pure adrenaline,” Onesto said. “He was amazing. But it’s a very painful foot injury and we found out this week in practice that he just can’t cut on it.”
Onesto said the coaches decided they’ll get Lozito on the field for at least one play in the LIC and take him out to give him a much-deserved moment.
“He’s been such a big part of our program,” Onesto said. “It’s the right thing to do.”
Lozito helped lead South Side to 10 wins, a first for the program. He rushed for 1,026 yards and 13 touchdowns. Owen West, who has thrown for more than 1,100 yards and 15 scores, has Justin Singh and AJ Magaraci in the backfield.
East Islip counters with Thomas Costarelli, who has thrown for 1,165 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also leads East Islip with 767 rushing yards and eight scores. The halfbacks are run by committee with Ryan Parker and Andrew Cooper.
East Islip two-way tackle Sebastian Regis knows Lozito’s pain. Regis was forced out of the 2021 playoffs and the LIC when he suffered a broken tibia in the final game of the regular season. “Our own guy made a cut inside Sebastian’s block and accidentally kicked him in the shin,” Ciampi said. “He is chomping at the bit to play on the big stage.”
Regis and the East Islip defensive line of Dylan Bayer, Charlie Heffernan and Jaden Schmidt have played lights-out in the postseason but will be tested by the Cyclones in what promises to be an entertaining title game.
The film surely will back it up.