Long Island Football Championship Preview

State champions in field hockey, soccer and cross country were crowned over the weekend, played out with all of New York hanging on the outcome. Yet the blissful isolation of Long Island high school football—which long ago opted out of the state tournament—creates buzz and a level excitement not seen in any other sport or venue.

Four Long Island championship football games take place at Hofstra and Stony Brook, each with its own history and legacy. Many of the schools are title-game regulars, from Amityville to Garden City. Thanksgiving week is all about these monumental games. So enjoy the show. Here is the rundown on each contest:

Class I
Who: Floyd vs. Freeport
When: Saturday, Nov. 28 at 4:30 p.m.
Where: LaValle Stadium, Stony Brook University

On Floyd (10-1): The Colonials won their fourth Suffolk Division I crown in five seasons by knocking off previously unbeaten Sachem North, 27-6, on Sunday. Coach Paul Longo turned loose a young prospect to win as sophomore Stacey Bedell ran for 170 yards and two touchdowns.

On Freeport (9-2): Kevin Allen, who moved to quarterback the last two playoff games, rushed for 244 yards and three touchdowns to help the Red Devils get past rival Farmingdale, 34-20, in the Nassau Conference I title game. Allen raised his season TD total to 31, passing former NFL star Amos Zereoue for the most in Nassau history.

The Skinny: Freeport, which won its sixth county title, has played five games decided by a touchdown or less this season. Floyd has also had its share of close calls, but relied on stingy defense to deliver when it matters. These two programs have big-game coaches in Longo and Freeport’s Russ Cellan. But it will be the playmakers—Bedell and Allen—who decide this one.

Class II
Who: North Babylon vs. Garden City
When: Friday, Nov. 27 at 4:30 p.m.
Where: Shuart Stadium, Hofstra University

On North Babylon (11-0): The Bulldogs earned their ninth trip to the LIC since 1992 with a 17-10 win over East Islip. Preshod McCoy ran for 134 yards and a touchdown in the Suffolk Division II final. Coach Terry Manning has a history of riding great backs to championships. McCoy, who amassed 1,416 yards on 226 carries and 22 touchdowns, is the latest.

On Garden City (11-0): Brian Fischer has emerged as the top producer in a crowded backfield. Coach Tom Flatley owns the highest winning percentage of any high school football coach (100 wins minimum) in Long Island history. And this season was all about great coaching translating to the field. The defense recorded its ninth shutout in a 14-0 win over Wantagh in the Nassau Conference II title game. It marked the 17th county title (Flatley’s 14th) for the Trojans.

The Skinny: North Babylon has done enough to win, but hasn’t rolled through foes like the Bulldogs of years’ past. It’s been a group effort for Garden City. These two teams have used sheer force of will at times. Expect this one to be a physical, low-scoring affair where one play may decide it.

Class III
Who: Half Hollow Hills West vs. Lawrence
When: Saturday, Nov. 28 at 12 p.m.
Where: LaValle Stadium, Stony Brook University

On Hills West (11-0): Stony Brook recruit JeVahn Cruz rushed for 303 yards and three touchdowns as the Colts shut out Hauppauge, 29-0, for the Suffolk Division III title. The electric quarterback has run for 21 touchdowns and helped Hills West average 37 points a game.

On Lawrence (9-2): Kenny Barnett ran for 162 yards and four touchdowns to roll past No. 1 Lynbrook, 41-7. Syracuse-bound quarterback John Kinder is an exceptional athlete, the school’s best since C.W. Post QB Rob Blount.

The Skinny: Lawrence avenged two regular-season losses in impressive fashion, downing Plainedge, 56-28, in the semis and then routing Lynbrook in the Nassau Conference III championship. The Golden Tornado is on a tear. Each team can score in a hurry and relies on multi-dimensional quarterbacks. The defense that can do the best job at containing the quarterback wins.

Class IV
Who: Amityville vs. Seaford
When: Friday, Nov. 27 at 12 p.m.
Where: Shuart Stadium, Hofstra University

On Amityville (9-2): Amityville trailed Glenn, 11-2, with 4:01 left before exploding for two scores to rally for a 17-11 win in the Suffolk Division IV championship game. Sophomore wideout Willie White caught 39- and 60-yard touchdowns in the final minutes. The Warriors will need that type of explosiveness to upend Seaford.

On Seaford (11-0): The Vikings shut out Locust Valley, 33-0, to capture the program’s third straight Nassau Conference IV title and fifth since 2002. Coach Rob Perpall has put together some great defensive units during the run. This team, with five shutouts, is no different.

The Skinny: The Rob Anderson to Mike Gallo connection has come up big for Seaford all year. And running back Justin Buckley has a knack for finding the end zone. Mark Jerrick, Da’rell Hatcher and Gavin Kretz have all gotten the ball for Amityville and have each scored important touchdowns. Who will step up with all of Long Island watching?

jason molinet

Jason Molinet spent three years at Patch.com 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.