Class III: Shootout written all over it
Fans of wide-open, air-it-out, pedal-to-the-metal football rejoice. Sayville vs. Lawrence is here.
Two of Long Island's most prolific, proficient and productive offenses will play Sunday for the Long Island Class III championship at Stony Brook's LaValle Stadium. Starting time? A very appropriate high noon. Perfect for a shootout.
With all the wizardry of the two spread offenses, there is a chance to hit some magic numbers. How about 100 points and 1,000 yards between the two teams?
Lawrence scored 64 against Plainedge in last weekend's Nassau III championship game, which produced 990 yards of total offense. Sayville managed "only" 28 points against hard-hitting Westhampton in the Suffolk III championship game but has exceeded 40 points five times and pulled its starters early in nearly every game.
"From a fan's perspective, this is a game people are looking forward to. It's fun to watch," said one neutral observer, Hewlett coach Jay Iaquinta, who lost twice to Lawrence this season by scores of 54-35 and 62-32. "But from a coach's perspective, it's a nightmare, because you know you're going to have to score so many points."
That shouldn't be a problem for either team Sunday. Both have myriad weapons capable of big-play strikes from anywhere at any time.
"The bad news is they're really good," Sayville coach Rob Hoss said of his opponent. "There are some definite similarities. They can spread you out. They're athletic and can score from everywhere on the field. The good news is that we're familiar with the offense -- it's what we run."
Both offenses are solid gold. The Golden Flashes feature record-setting quarterback Steven Ferreira, who broke the Long Island marks for career passing yards and career touchdown passes this season. He has 2,214 yards and 27 touchdown passes this season, and 6,182 yards and 71 TD passes for his career. His spread options include sticky-fingered targets Tom Hannan and James Rupp and dangerous running backs John Haggart (138 yards last week) and Zach Sirico.
The Golden Tornado features the Fredericks brothers -- senior Ryan (27 touchdowns), junior Tyler (24 touchdowns) and freshman Jordan (eight touchdowns). Ryan and Tyler are productive runners; Jordan is a deep receiving threat. Then there's sophomore quarterback Joe Capobianco, a confident kid who set a Nassau playoff record with 333 yards passing last week and then vowed to "get 400 yards and win the LIC" Sunday. Ed Robinson is a favorite target.
"They have playmakers all over the field," Hoss said. "It's a problem for us, even though we understand the offense. Capobianco is a playmaker. He's enthusiastic. He's a gamer."
After his team's victory over Plainedge but before he knew his opponent in the LIC, Lawrence coach Joe Martillotti said he wanted to play Sayville, even though that presents a more difficult challenge. "From a coach's standpoint,'' he said, "that's an exciting game to be involved in."
Hoss said his defense, an underrated unit, is up for the challenge. "They're excited to play Lawrence,'' he said. "We're a stingy group and a physical group. It's one of the best defenses I've ever coached."
Could defense really be a major factor Sunday? Iaquinta, who would know, said in games like this, "the tendency is to want to score quick. When that happens, sometimes it's the defense that wins the game . . . But most people would rather watch offense than defense, and both of these teams possess high-powered offensive kids."
Which is why Hoss said, "If people like to see the ball being spun, there will be a lot of spinning. The ball will be in the air."
Translation, coach Hoss: "This game will be fun."