With Oceanside, Carey and Lynbrook all winning statement games last week to solidify the top spot in Conferences I, II, and III, respectively, we turn our attention to the battles for second through fourth place.
Why are those spots coveted? Because they get to host first-round playoff games the first week in November.
Hewlett, which lost to Lynbrook in a battle for first place last Saturday, now finds itself with another tough matchup, home against 4-1 Sewanhaka with second place on the line.
Other teams, like Hicksville (the preseason No. 11 seed in Conference I) and Valley Stream Central (No. 10 in Conference II), are just trying to remain relevant in the playoff hunt after surprising 3-2 starts. Wins over MacArthur and Elmont, respectively, on Saturday would go a long way towards that goal.
Only five teams remain undefeated in Nassau, with the Seaford-Roosevelt game in two weeks the last between two unbeatens. This week, however, is about the chase for playoff positioning. It's about the hunters, not the hunted.
With that said, let's get to this week's games to watch in the 5-1-6.
For more on these games from Gregg Sarra and Andy Slawson, click here. And be sure to check Friday's paper, as Gregg, Andy, Bob Herzog and myself make picks for the 10 best games on the Island this weekend.
To read about the best games in Suffolk this week, click here.
East Meadow (4-1) at Freeport (4-1), Saturday at 2 p.m. — The Red Devils have scored 40+ points in four of their first five games, and 34 in the other. So without Oceanside, Freeport would be the top scoring team on the Island (the Sailors have scored 213 points, the Red Devils 203). Dan Olivier, with his 10 touchdowns, is the most potent weapon against an East Meadow defense that has forced 11 turnovers in five games. Robbie Healy leads the way for the Jets with three INTs. East Meadow's problem is on offense, scoring just 97 points thus far, the lowest of any team in the top 8 in Conference I.
Hicksville (3-2) at MacArthur (3-2), Saturday at 2 p.m. — The pesky Comets, led by senior quarterback Brandon Gamblin, just won't go away in Conference I. Gamblin, who mostly runs in the triple-option attack, has nine rushing touchdowns and two passing on the season. He's more of a slasher, but they also have a bruiser in fullback Antonio Wilsher. Look for him to pound the ball against a Generals defense that lacks size. Talented running back Brett Ellers should see most of the carries for MacArthur.
Elmont (3-2) at Valley Stream Central (3-2), Saturday at 2 p.m. — Want a dream matchup? We've got one here — Spartans running back Jaquan Smith against Eagles man-child Victor Ochi. Smith probably isn't too thrilled about last week's season-low 34 yards in a 42-0 loss to Garden City, so the preseason No. 10 seed better buckle its chin straps. Laton Butler has rushed for 356 yards and three touchdowns in VSC's last two games — both wins.
Sewanhaka (4-1) at Hewlett (4-1), Saturday at 2 p.m. — The Indians love to win games ugly, while Hewlett thrives in the passing game. So does that mean Saturday's forecast for high winds and possible showers benefits the underdog? Maybe. Expect a heavy dose of Brian Wint, Keenan Woods and Shireem Cobb against a Hewlett defense that had only given up 21 points before last week (when it gave up 45). Niv Sultan anchors the defensive line, while Alex Kahn (244 yards passing last week) will look to make it rain on the Sewanhaka secondary.
North Shore (2-3) at Cold Spring Harbor (3-2), Saturday at 3 p.m. — The Seahawks ride their impressive backfield duo of Chris Moriarty and Kevin Porzelt against the Vikings' one-man wrecking crew Evan Vandoros, who's found the end zone eight times this year. Two weeks ago, he rushed for 331 yards in a win over Locust Valley. Both teams are coming off Week 5 losses.