Whether you’re a fan of the unyielding running styles of a Latrell Horton and Longwood or enjoy the highflying acrobatic pass catching of a Jeremy Ruckert and Lindenhurst, Suffolk I football has a little bit of everything going this season.
Horton, a linebacker who dropped from 250 pounds to 235 in preparation for a move from fullback to tailback, and Ruckert, a junior wide receiver and linebacker who has offers to play tight end from numerous big-time schools, including Alabama, Auburn and Ohio State, represent the No. 1 and No. 2 teams, respectively, in Suffolk I. The two superstars could lead their teams in a championship rematch.
Longwood (11-1) rolled over Farmingdale, 47-28, with a LIC record 555 rushing yards, after defeating Lindenhurst, 44-14, in last season’s Suffolk I final. But the Lions are focused on a repeat and building a Long Island dynasty.
“We’re not even [thinking] about last year,” Horton said. “We’re trying to win one this year, back-to-back. Last year is the past, we won last year but we’re focused now.”
Lindenhurst (10-1) hasn’t forgotten about how last season ended.
“It definitely leaves a bitter feeling in your stomach looking back at it,” said three-year starting linebacker Mike Newman. “It’s a long way from when you finish until you get back at it. It definitely creates a drive for the guys … that’s been the main fuel for us so far.”
Suffolk I is far from a two-team race. Ward Melville returns Eddie Munoz and his nine touchdowns and three interceptions from last season. Connetquot and Floyd are perennial powers with depth and experience on the offensive and defensive line. Commack and Bay Shore return strong starting quarterbacks in Ryan Sheridan and Matt Ilchuk, respectively, and could serve as dark horses in the deep league. Northport, Sachem East and Brentwood have taken steps forward as a program.
“The league is very tough, I think there’s a lot of balance,” said Floyd coach Paul Longo. “I think Longwood is very good obviously … but after that I think anybody can probably beat anybody on a good day.”