Football Takes Root in Center Moriches and Eastport

Two communities known for soccer can bask in the glow of the high school football playoffs—for one week at least. Center Moriches and Eastport-South Manor each qualified for the postseason, a first.

It’s a most remarkable feat for Center Moriches, which played its first varsity season in 2007 and went 5-3 this fall to earn the sixth seed in the Division IV playoffs. The Red Devils draw No. 3 Amityville in a quarterfinal game.

Eastport-South Manor was born in the last decade when two small school districts merged. A beautiful new high school was built. Now it can start stockpiling the tradition. Its 5-3 record and eighth seed in ultra-competitive Division III mark the next step for this growing community. ESM will face top seed Half Hollow Hills West in a quarterfinal.

For every teen who turned in his shoulder pads this week and kissed his battle-scarred helmet goodbye, there are plenty more still playing. The high school football playoff brackets are set in Nassau and Suffolk, and an unprecedented 32 schools in each county qualified. While Nassau has allowed eight teams in each conference to reach the postseason for a while now, this will mark Suffolk’s first expanded playoff.

There are no bigger beneficiaries than Center Moriches and Eastport-South Manor. Center Moriches has a long and proud sports history. But it’s mostly connected to soccer. People actually fought to keep football out of the school for fear it would take away from the town’s flagship sport.

Soccer will always be an important part of the Red Devils’ tradition. Indeed, the Center Moriches boys soccer team is the top seed in the Suffolk Class B playoffs, which begin on Wednesday. The girls will also play a semifinal game on Wednesday.

But November is all about playoff football. Center Moriches and Eastport-South Manor finally get to experience what all the excitement is about. Welcome to the show, boys and girls.

jason molinet

Jason Molinet spent three years at as regional editor and was a reporter at Newsday for a decade. He is a four-time Press Club of Long Island award winner. Molinet celebrates his Cuban heritage, reads Ernest Hemingway and roots for the Miami Heat.