Class III creates another thriller
Minutes after defeating Plainedge in the Nassau III final, Lawrence running back Tyler Fredericks set his sights on his next goal.
"This feels good," he said, "but in my mind, I'm always thinking Sayville, Sayville, Sayville. Since last year, Sayville, Sayville. They're next."
After Sayville beat Lawrence last year in a record-breaking game in which the teams totaled 139 points, the Golden Flashes became the gatekeepers to glory. A repeat of Lawrence vs. Sayville, with high-octane offenses and high-caliber quarterbacks, seemed appropriate and inevitable.
Friday night's plot twists and dramatic turns didn't disappoint. After taking a 13-point lead, Sayville gave up the next two touchdowns, ending with a pick-6 by Ed Robinson with 5:25 left. Lawrence won, 21-20, clinching its first Long Island Class III championship since 2005.
Rivalry? Yeah, these two teams have plenty of that.
"With both teams returning some major pieces, it was kind of like the collision course was set then," Sayville coach Rob Hoss said before the game. "Last year's game, with what a high-scoring game it was . . . it obviously opened up a lot of eyes."
Far from being a repeat of last year's 78-61 slugfest, Friday night's chapter proved an exercise in perseverance. Sayville lost quarterback Zach Sirico to injury in the second quarter. Senior understudy Donald DeKenipp cobbled together a movie-like first series: a sack and three completions, ending with a 41-yard TD pass for a 20-7 lead.
Midway through the third, Lawrence quarterback Joe Capobianco converted fourth-and-4 at his own 31 and later scored on a 5-yard run. Down 20-14 later in the quarter, Fredericks intercepted a DeKenipp pass at his own 10 and returned it to the Sayville 40, but the drive died seconds later, seemingly taking Lawrence's hopes with it. This rivalry, though, had more staying power than that, and Robinson, who nabbed a tipped pass for a 30-yard score, provided a fitting end to the latest installment
The epilogue: Florian Capobianco stuffed Sayville on fourth-and-1 with 3:33 left and John Haggart, the Golden Flashes' star running back, suffered a knee injury.
"Any time you have two really good teams, it becomes a rivalry," Hoss said. "The fact that we're both here again playing on the biggest stage, there was never a rivalry before, but there certainly is one now."
Certainly. And maybe next year, it will be Sayville saying, "Lawrence, Lawrence, Lawrence."