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Lofty expectations this season for South Side football

William Pickett of South Side poses during the

William Pickett of South Side poses during the Newsday high school football photo shoot on Aug. 21. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Nobody will be overlooking the South Side football team this year.

Expectations are heightened entering this season for the Cyclones, who made a run to the Nassau Conference III semifinals last year after starting the season as the 11 seed.

South Side spent the season lighting up scoreboards across Nassau, which helped finally shine light on how much talent the team had.

This year the second-seeded Cyclones are led by quarterback William Pickett and wide receiver Nick Licalzi, both seniors who hope to make the most of their time in the spotlight.

“It’s been more intense this summer already,” Pickett said. “We’re trying to get back to Hofstra and play on that turf.”

Pickett will have plenty of options in the spread offense with a skill position group that coach Phil Onesto said could be eight or nine deep.

“We can really be dynamic and it’s very exciting to think about because of all the options,” Pickett said. “We can go deep, throw screens or run the ball and it’s a lot more fun than just going under center.”

But Licalzi still will be the key. A second-team Newsday All-Long Island player last year, Licalzi had 1,100 all-purpose yards and 12 touchdowns and will be the game breaker that sets South Side apart.

“We have a lot of targets besides Nick but he’ll draw a ton of attention,” Pickett said. “And he can handle it.”

Handling that spotlight will be key for the Cyclones as they navigate the pressures that come with being a high seed.

“I don’t think the preseason seed is a big deal,” Licalzi said. “We need to come out and play our best and beat the teams we know we can. There’s definitely different expectations for us but no matter what they are, we're always trying to fulfill them.”

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