Sayville quarterback Steven Ferreira throws a pass in the second...

Sayville quarterback Steven Ferreira throws a pass in the second quarter of the Class III Long Island Championship against Lynbrook at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium. (Nov. 26, 2010) Credit: James Escher

Call them the comeback kids, but not for the reason you think.

With star running back John Haggart, cool quarterback Steven Ferreira and at least two wide receivers returning next season, the message from Sayville's young football team to the rest of Long Island is simple: to be continued.

"I'm just thinking about the future now," said Haggart, a sophomore. "I know I want to get here again. We've got to win this game . . . Being a sophomore gives me a lot of optimism and confidence. I know how hard I need to train. This is a tough loss, but we're going to get here next year. I can feel it."

Though he clearly was distraught, most of Haggart's thoughts were occupied by what this could mean. A 42-27 loss to Lynbrook in the Long Island Class III championship game stung, but for a team that almost certainly will come back stronger next year, it's as much of a building moment as any.

"We have a lot of kids coming back," coach Robert Hoss said. "You never know. You're a sprained ankle away from not having some of those kids. We're licking our wounds from this loss now, but there's no question we expect to go far next year if all things go well."

For now, the kids proved that they could have what it takes. Haggart finished with 27 carries for 123 yards and three TDs, and Ferreira, a junior, was 9-for-22 with 108 yards and one TD.

But lest anyone think that Sayville will get complacent next year, Hoss said this was not the finish he had in mind.

"It goes in the trophy case," Hoss said of the finalist plaque, which he leaned on as if it were a crutch. "I'm proud of the Suffolk County championship, but I'm not proud of the second-place finish. This [trophy], second place, it's not the trophy I'm looking for. I don't want 'finalists.' "

The implication was clear: If this year had to be the dress rehearsal, next year will be the real deal.

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