Erin Parker, may we introduce Rich Czeczotka.
Two of the most entertaining, explosive and consistent players on Long Island square off Friday, when Roosevelt and Glenn meet in the Class IV championship game at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium.
And given what these two offenses have done in the past, it could be a high-noon shootout.
Czeczotka, who hails from Glenn's fine tradition of do-it-all quarterbacks, went 13-for-19 for 265 yards and three touchdowns in the Knights' 42-30 win over Amityville last week. He added 22 carries for 134 yards and two more touchdowns. He has 40 TDs in 11 games and two five-score games. He is 109-for-156 passing (a 69.9 percent completion rate) for 1,838 yards this year. Tack on 682 yards rushing on 95 attempts for good measure.
Now, Parker, the Roosevelt running back: 2,272 yards on 196 attempts -- 11.59 yards per carry. He has 24 rushing touchdowns on the year, plus one receiving and one pick-six interception return. In the Rough Riders' 21-14 county final win against East Rockaway, he had 192 yards on 19 carries, with TD runs of 64 and 63 yards. He added a two-point conversion pass. Quote Glenn coach Dave Shanahan: "This kid, all he needs to do is run to the crease. All he's got to do is get there and he can go for 80 or 90 yards."
So that's the story -- two skill players, both alike in dignity, who will have the biggest numbers next to their names come Saturday morning. But if two big names cancel each other out, what's left?
For Glenn (10-1), it's all about the defense. Kick it off with defensive end-wide receiver Jon Mannix. Mannix isn't only one of Czeczotka's favorite targets, but, along with Anton Swain, has the unenviable task of curtailing Parker. Shanahan has faith that Mannix and Swain will be able to contain the outside run, with linebackers Matt Shanerman and Nick Princiotta clogging up the middle in what will need to be an aggressive defense.
Roosevelt's run-heavy offense has the ability to take precious minutes off the clock, so time management will be a key, along with precision out of their receivers. Wide receiver Nick Wagner, who cut his teeth with record-breaking quarterback Ryan Rielly last year, will likely factor heavily, along with receiver-running back Tommy Forsberg.
As for the Rough Riders (9-2), they need to avoid what happened against Seaford earlier this year, when Parker was contained to 10 yards on six carries. Because of the big target on his back, Parker and, to a lesser extent, QB Rob Sweeny, will live and die with the O-line. Roosevelt has mainly dealt with run-heavy teams and faltered when facing Locust Valley's airborne attack during the season, meaning that they'll need some big stops by a secondary that will be unaccustomed to Czeczotka's style of play.
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