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Sachems May Be Split But Still On Top

Varsity - 2005 Season
Posted Wednesday, December 29, 2004 by David Falco

NORTH WINS ITS FIRST

September 16, 2004

Sachem's split into two football teams became official Tuesday night when members of last year's playoff squad watched Sachem North's opener from the bleachers.

The players in the stands helped Sachem to its Long Island record 22nd straight playoff appearance in 2003, but they must finish their high school football careers at Sachem East. They turned an entire section red with new jerseys, which bear one word in small print close to the heart - Sachem.

Not Sachem East, just Sachem. Whatever you want to call them, one thing remained constant: winning. North beat Ward Melville, 14-12, in a Suffolk Division I opener.

"We come here wearing our jerseys to support them because we're really not split right now," Sachem East senior receiver Alex Grimm said. "We're all still friends. We all went to school together. Everyone is still Sachem."

The East team showered its former teammates with chants of "Un-di-vided" after North cut Ward Melville's lead to 12-7 near the end of the first half. They cheered wildly when Bryan Gil's 28-yard touchdown catch on a fourth-and-4 gave North a 14-12 lead late the third quarter. They were jumping after the Flaming Arrows made that score stand up by stopping three fourth-quarter drives inside the North 11.

The victory overwhelmed Sachem North coach David Falco.

"That's special. I coached all those guys . . ." Falco said, his voice cracking and tailing off as a tear rolled off his cheek.

North quarterback Terry Meaney, who completed 9 of 14 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns, and sealed the game with an interception on defense, said, "We still look at it as one Sachem."

Sachem North kept all the records in the split and the coaching staff, which includes six varsity coaches who played for longtime coach Fred Fusaro.

Before the game, assistant head coach Mark Wojciechowski gave a pregame speech he had been thinking about for four years since the split was approved. In the cramped locker room, where 47 players fit in the middle aisle much easier than 60 had last year, Wojciechowski said he couldn't change his feelings about Sachem.

"We sweat as much, we bleed as much, we work as hard as ever before - as ever before," an emotional Wojciechowski said. "Tonight will be no different. Tonight will be no different than any Sachem team that's ever been to this field before."

The game started different when North fell behind 12-0 after three possessions. The defense then stopped five Ward Melville trips deep into North territory, including two interceptions by Gil at the goal line.

East is seeded eighth in Division I and North ninth, so there will be no Sachem meeting this year unless it's a playoff game. Falco doesn't expect that.

Meaney said he is glad starting over doesn't include playing against his friends.

"We're all the Sachem football community," Meaney said. "Even though there's two teams, I think we're all still one big family."

The North side of the family will head to Farmingville on Saturday when Sachem East hosts No. 2 Patchogue-Medford.


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