"Touchdown" Tyler Heuer and his Oceanside mates meet their stiffest test of the season to date on Saturday when they take the field at Freeport.
It's not that the Red Devils can't be scored upon — they've allowed 131 points in seven games. It's that they're the first team the Sailors have faced this year who can keep up with them on the scoreboard.
Freeport has scored 41 points in four straight games and 285 on the season, which is only five behind the Sailors for the most on the Island. Both teams are way ahead of any other Nassau team in points scored (Hewlett is third with 250).
So while the regular-season finale may be an opportunity for Heuer to pad his already astonishing statistics, it's also a game where a mistake can be glaring. Or even cost Oceanside its perfect record.
With five TDs in Saturday's 20-point win over Uniondale (his third game this season of five or more TD passes), Heuer is up to 27 passing TDs (he also has seven rushing). He threw an interception as well, his first since throwing a pair in a Week 2 win over Syosset.
He is just three TD passes shy of tying the Nassau record of 30 set by Randy Mills of Freeport in 2003. On Saturday, Heuer was 15-for-18 for 282 yards, 211 of which went to Gene Garay (pictured above), who caught eight passes, including touchdowns of 6 and 72 yards. More about him below.
With 1,600 yards in seven games (228.5 per game), Heuer is 601 yards behind the Nassau record of 2,201 set by Rob Van Bargen of Massapequa in 2008.
Heuer leads the top scoring offense on Long Island (41.4 points per game), and Oceanside is only one of three undefeated teams remaining in Nassau (Carey and Seaford are the others). But, as I repeat every week, Heuer isn't the only candidate for the Thorp Award. After all, that's why we do this list.
Though his stranglehold on the award only gets stronger with each passing week.
Here are the rest of the top candidates after Week 7 (players are listed in alphabetical order)...
(To see Bob Herzog's Hansen Award watch, click here.)
Justin Buckley, Seaford: A high ankle sprain held the Vikings senior running back to just six yards on two carries in Seaford's 21-20 win over Roosevelt on Friday night. But Buckley remains one of the top backs in Nassau with 892 yards and 10 touchdowns on 142 carries. His status for this week's game at Clarke is up in the air, and it remains to be seen how effective he'll be for the Vikings in their postseason run.
Donte Colter, Roosevelt: Despite Buckley's injury and another huge game for "The Monster," the Rough Riders senior tailback would have changed places with him in a heartbeat Friday night. Why? Because Colter tasted defeat for the first time this season in a 21-20 loss at Seaford. But Colter wasn't to blame. He rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries, threw a pass for 37 yards and intercepted a pass on defense. On the season, he has 1,209 yards on 125 carries and a Long Island-high 20 touchdowns. To see Colter's sweet 18-yard TD run in the fourth quarter that cut Seaford's lead to one, click here.
Gene Garay, Oceanside: It's like one of those "What came first: the chicken or the egg?" questions — What was better: the touchdown catch or the touchdown throw? As good as Tyler Heuer has been this season, where would he be without his star receiver? On Saturday, Garay caught eight passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns. It was his first 200-yard game this season, but he's gone over 100 in four of the last five games. On the season, he's caught 38 passes for 769 yards and nine scores — all Long Island highs.
Tyler Heuer, Oceanside: Like Garay receiving, Heuer leads Long Island in every passing category. On the season, he's 97-for-148 (65.5 percent) for 1,600 yards with 27 touchdowns and three interceptions. He also has seven rushing touchdowns and over 500 yards on the ground. Of the Sailors' 41 touchdowns this season, Heuer has had a hand in 34 of them (83 percent).
Alex Kahn, Hewlett: The Bulldogs senior QB and his team got back on track Saturday in a 56-0 route of host South Side. He was 4-for-5 for 123 yards and two touchdowns — his 11th and 12th TD tosses of the season — and ran for 58 yards and a score (his fourth rushing TD) on three carries. All three of his touchdowns went for 20+ yards.
Paul Magloire, Lynbrook: The Owls senior signal-caller couldn't lead his team to a 7-0 start, as Lynbrook lost a 23-22 decision at Lawrence on Saturday. But he did manage a pair of touchdowns — a 20-yard pass to Luke Spitzer to open the scoring and a 20-yard run that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter. On the season, Magloire has six rushing TDs and another six passing. To see highlights of Saturday's game, click here.
Dan Olivier, Freeport: The Red Devils running back didn't find paydirt in Saturday's 41-35 win at MacArthur, but he did lead the team with 189 rushing yards on 15 carries. It was his third 150+-yard performance in his last three games. He has scored 12 touchdowns this season (nine rushing, three receiving), and will look to add to that total in a shootout against Heuer and the Sailors on Saturday.
Jaquan Smith, Elmont: Very quietly, the Spartans senior running back has posted a phenomenal season. In Saturday's 36-21 win over Long Beach, he rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries, and caught two passes for 24 yards, including a 10-yard TD pass from Qusarn Caldwell. He now has 16 touchdowns on the season, and just narrowly missed his fourth 150+-yard rushing game of the year. He has six 100-yard games. To see his 56-yard TD run, click here, his 10-yard TD catch, click here, his 35-yard TD run, click here, and to hear his postgame comments, click here.
Kevin Wahl, Farmingdale: While Sal Tuttle made the headlines for his three-TD passing performance in Friday's 34-6 win over Syosset, Wahl managed two touchdowns runs — both muscling his way in from a yard out. They were his 13th and 14th rushing touchdowns of the season to go along with three receiving. He also caught a two-point conversion pass from Tuttle. To see his TD runs, click here and here.
Kyle Zahradka, Carey: The Seahawks QB is a dynamic passer, but he's got a little Brett Favre in him when it comes to throwing interceptions. Luckily for Zahradka, it hasn't kept his team from a 7-0 start. In Saturday's 35-0 win at Mepham, he was 12-for-23 for 167 yards and two touchdowns (his 11th and 12th passing TDs of the season). But he also threw two interceptions, and now has seven of those on the year, including six the last four games. That's something he'll have to clean up as the playoffs approach.
Honorable mention: Isaiah Barnes, Freeport; Samson Bialostok, Lawrence; Juliano Bove, Carey; Ralph Caccavale, Plainedge; Shireem Cobb, Sewanhaka; Ryan Fredericks, Lawrence; Stephen Jahelka, Garden City; Ronell Jones, Floral Park; Tom Joyce, MacArthur; Chris Laviano, Holy Trinity; Terrance Rodway, Uniondale; Niv Sultan, Hewlett, Sal Tuttle, Farmingdale, Evan Vandoros, North Shore; Brian Wint, Sewanhaka.