One thing is for certain in Suffolk II: there will be no repeat division champion.
That’s because 2016 champ Half Hollow Hills West, along with Bellport, moved to Suffolk III.
Welcome in Bay Shore, which came from Suffolk I and was voted the No. 1 seed by coaches in the division.
“I don’t care if we’re the No. 1 seed on paper, now,” said Bay Shore fourth-year coach Craig Blatter. “We have to be there at the end of the year.”
One of the main reasons the Marauders might have a long postseason run is their impressive interior line, led by Matt Mirabito. Bay Shore has three linemen that bench press more than 315 pounds according to Blatter, and senior Nasai Mims squats 650 pounds.
“They’ve become committed to the weight room,” said Blatter, who added his team is lifting three times a week during camp. “Those are the kids that have been together from the beginning.”
The Marauders have improved their win total every season under Blatter with two wins in 2014, three victories in 2015 and a 4-5 record last season including a trip to the playoffs. Now, Bay Shore will go for its first division title since 1986 when it captured a Suffolk II crown.
“Division I, Division II it doesn’t matter,” Blatter said. “We’re nothing until we prove ourselves.”
West Islip, which lost to Hills West in the 2016 county final, has a lot to prove as a No. 2 seed. The Lions return just one starter from a 10-1 squad a year ago: senior lineman Anthony Giardina.
The big news for West Islip came in the spring when quarterback Jake Guercio was injured during the baseball season. New starting QB -- junior Mike LaDonna -- has looked good in camp with an impressive arm.
Newfield, which won the Long Island Class II champ two seasons ago, will also be in the hunt. Perennial power North Babylon and up-and-coming Centereach round out the top five seeds.