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Two potent teams will collide for Suffolk Division 1 championship on Sunday night

Posted Friday, November 20, 2009 by LIblitz.com
BY JIM FURLONG LIBLITZ.com
 
Sachem Head Coach Dave Falco and Floyd Head Paul Longo disagree.
 
No surprise since the two head coaches have a totally different ambition when their potent teams collide at 6 p.m. Sunday night.
For Falco, he desires to see top-seeded Sachem North continue its undefeated season and win the 2009 Suffolk Division 1 championship.
 
For Longo, he craves the opportunity for second-seeded William Floyd to gain its fourth Division 1 title in the last five years.
To be sure, one team will celebate at LaValle Stadium on the campus of Stony Brook University. The other team will go home with a bitter disappointment. Sachem North (10-0) owns a powerful rushing attack and beat William Floyd 17-14 in the regular-season opener. The Colonials (9-1) are riding a nine-game winning streak and have a dependable, stingy defense.
Which team is the favorite? Falco and Longo, of course, picked their opponent. "They beat us. They have a better record. They are the No. 1 seed," said Longo. "A tough team." Falco chuckled when told Longo's comment. Falco knows William Floyd has won 12 of its last 13 playoff games. "We are the favorite?!" said Falco. "No way. He is dreaming. "The team (Floyd) I see on film has has gotten better every week." Both coaches, of course, are cautious in their pregame comments. No hint of any negative quotes which could be used to help motivate the opponent.
 
Falco and Longo, however, do agree they expect impressive attendance. The title duel may prove the most-important showdown for all Long Island during the 2009 season. "People are excited about this game," Falco said. "I'm getting a lot of phone calls and e-mails." "I think it will be a huge crowd," said Longo. "There is a lot of talk on Long Island. They are one of the few teams to beat us (the last seven years)." The Colonials own a combined 70-4 record the last seven seasons, and their only regular-season setback came against the Flaming Arrows on Sept. 11 in Mastic Beach.
 
The Sachem North players see more people in Holbrook and Lake Ronkonkoma making plans to attend on Sunday.
"All my friends are talking about this game and that they are going to go," said Sachem North junior lineman James Thompson  "We are coming there to win. Maybe we're not the fastest, the strongest, but we are going to work the hardest."
Ryan Sampson, another Sachem North starting lineman, said 10 to 15 of his relatives are coming. "My Mom has been calling everyone," said Sampson.
 
The 23 Floyd seniors yearn for a payback. They recall the 17-14 setback 10 weeks ago on their home field when Travis Nardello's field goal with two seconds remaining delighted the Flaming Arrows. "We wanted Sachem North to win (in last week's Suffolk semifinals) because we really wanted to play them again," said Floyd senior receiver Jon Romeo.
Kevin Hauter, one of Suffolk's top prep players, helps lead the Floyd defense, and he's eager for the rematch. "I know our offense can score points and our defense can hold them," said Hauter, who plans to play college ball at Stony Brook.
 
The Sachem North players also have a keen zest to claim supremacy. "This is a great thing in Sachem history," said linebacker Jesse Scanna, the team's leading tackler. "And we deserve it because we started working in the winter and all summer. We are a close team. We have a solid team; offense, defense and special teams. "As the season goes on, we have all been working harder. We are first Sachem team to win 10 games (in a season) and we want to be the first Sachem team to win (the LIC)."
 
Last Saturday, the Sachem North coaches and many players traveled to Mastic Beach and watched William Floyd rally to dominate Lindenhurst 42-19 in a Suffolk semifinal. Last Friday night, the Flaming Arrows also dominated in the rain, a 42-6 conquest over Brentwood in their semifinal.
 
What will happen when Sachem North's talented runners -- Davon Lawrence, Scanna, Mike Andreassi and quarterback Angelo Armine -- challenge the Colonials' aggressive, alert, quick-moving defenders. "I think we have the best defense on Long Island," said Longo. "I don't expect either offense to dominate. They are a good team, but they have to beat us twice. That could be a bonus for us; make it a little easier to get the kids up. "If they can hold us to two touchdowns again, we will have a tough time winning. We will have to score more than two touchdowns. We proably have more team speed. I think they might be bigger."
 
In their last five games, the Flaming Arrows have averaged 41.2 points, but the Floyd first-team defenders have given up only three touchdowns in the last four games. "Like Paul said, they have the best defense in the county," said Falco. "They don't stay blocked. That is their strongpoint. You might block them, but they get off." In 10 games, Floyd opponents have scored a combined 94 points.

The No. 1 priority for Floyd defenders is containing the speedy Lawrence, who has rushed for 1,778 yards, averages about 11 yards a carry and scored a county-high 22 touchdowns. "He's explosive," said Scanna. Lawrence, also a strong blocker, has repeatedly displayed breakaway speed. He scored both Sachem North TDs during the 17-14 victory at Floyd 10 weeks ago.
"He is big and fast. He is a special player," said Longo. "We have to make sure we wrap him up."
 
Floyd defensive coordinator Gil DeCicco has viewed Lawrence on game films. He watched the Sachem North standout erupt for five touchdowns and 257 yards in the regular-season finale three weeks ago, a 47-7 romp over Commack High.
The Flaming Arrows, as a team, are averaging about 370 yards rushing per game.
 
While William Floyd has demonstrated that senior quarterback Darryl Moore can trigger a balanced run-pass offense, the Flaming Arrows have not needed to often throw the football. Sachem North has attempted 38 passes in 40 quarters, and completed 14 for 285 yards and three TDs. Can Sachem North throw with success if its running game is not productive? Falco also knows three current Floyd defensive starters did not play Sept. 11. While Sachem North has scored 35 or more points in five of its last six games, and established a Sachem single-season record for scoring (372 points), the team's scoring low came in the opener at William Floyd.
 
One Floyd advantage is the program's past experiences in the Suffolk final; the seventh appearance in the last nine years for Longo and some of his assistants. Sachem North earned its first final appearance since 2003. "I think that is a huge factor," said Falco. "I have coached in the (championship) game, but none of my staff has... but I am confident that they will be up to the challenge"
 
For the last nine seasons, William Floyd has built the best overall record for more than 115 public and private varsity teams on Long island. Longo's teams are 86-8 since 2001. Only twice in their last 53 games have the Colonals lost.
 
While Falco agrees the Colonials have mystique, he proudly mentions Sachem's past accomplishments."I think Sachem has mystique," said Falco. "Sachem went to the playoffs 23 years in a row prior to the split (six years ago). Sachem has played 46 playoff games won six county championships 13 Big 4 championships and 13 League/Division titles." After Sachem North and Sachem East became separate varsity programs in 2003, some people expected a decline. "When the schools split, a lot of people said they would never see a Sachem team in the county final for a long time,  it took six years but we are back" said Falco.
 
When the Long Island Blitz considered a prediction for Sunday's game, William Floyd appears to have the edge. The Colonials have more experience in a big-time clash, want to avenge their last loss and their defense is much more a known asset compared to Sachem North's unproven passing against a quality opponent. The Floyd coaching staff, for all public school programs on Long Island, owns a reputation as second to none No one can predict which team will give the best collective effort, but the prediction is William Floyd wins by a touchdown and advances to the LIC Class 1 title game on Nov. 28 against the Nassau County champion.
The Nassau Conference 1 title game is Saturday night at Hofstra University. Top-seeded Freeport (8-2) plays third-seeded Farmingdale (8-2). Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. Farmingdale, with a six-game winning streak, beat Freeport 28-17 on Oct. 24.
Twelve months ago, Connetquot beat Freeport 21-13 for the 2008 LIC title. 
 

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