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Unbeaten Babylon, Roosevelt are familiar rivals

Babylon's Nick Santorelli (4) runs off the left

Babylon's Nick Santorelli (4) runs off the left side on a keeper for a touchdown in the second half at Stony Brook in the Suffolk County Division IV final between Babylon and John Glenn. (Nov. 21, 2013) Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Here we go again.

On Friday at noon, in the Class IV championship game at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium, Roosevelt and Babylon will meet in the Long Island Championships for the fifth time. Through the 22 years of the LIC, these two have squared off more than any other opponents in any classification.

"We're fairly familiar with each other," said Babylon coach Rick Punzone, who has guided the Panthers to 23 straight victories, including last year's 48-18 win over Roosevelt. "They always have an athletic team, well-coached with an outstanding back."

The game will feature Long Island's highest-scoring offense against Long Island's stingiest defense.

Babylon (11-0) has scored a school-record 483 points in 11 games. St. Anthony's set the Suffolk record with 500 points in 2003.

Meanwhile, Roosevelt (11-0) has allowed only 30 points through 11 games.

Roosevelt defensive end Raymond Jones is a 6-3, 220-pound menace in opponents' backfields. He will try to make it difficult for Babylon quarterback Nick Santorelli to have enough time to look down the field for playmakers such as Jake Carlock.

Santorelli is a dual threat and the Panthers' offense focuses around him. His primary targets are Carlock and Ray Wardell, but halfbacks Luke Zappia and Eric Schweitzer give them balance on the run.

"We have to control the ball and execute and not be one-dimensional," Punzone said. "We'll mix the run and pass and try to avoid turnovers. They have a very active defense."

Roosevelt, which has lost three of four games against Babylon, features senior halfback Johnnie Akins, Long Island's leading rusher with 2,522 yards and 27 touchdowns.

"We're going to do what we do best on offense," Punzone said. "The challenge will be on defense, where we need to contain Johnnie Akins. We have to stay big in the gaps and eliminate his yards on cutback runs. We have to maintain gap control and force him to stay east-west rather than go north-south."

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