Ryan Feiner, once a blue-chip pitching prospect, couldn't have scripted his senior year any better. Two years removed from Tommy John surgery, the middle linebacker was in the thick of Farmingdale's march to the Nassau I football crown.
He led a swarming shutdown defense to a 21-9 victory over Baldwin Friday in a county championship game at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium. Baldwin, which scored 67 points in a semifinal win over Oceanside found little running room against the Dalers.
The rugged 5-10, 210-pound Feiner was all over the field in pursuit of Baldwin's playmakers. He finished with a team-leading 8 1/2 tackles.
"We wanted this really bad," said Feiner, who earned a starting position by the third game of the season. "It's a great group of guys who've worked so hard since two-a-days. This is the reward."
The reward is a date next Friday with either Floyd or Sachem East for the Long Island Class I title.
Friday's was the fourth meeting of these teams in the Nassau final and the fourth straight win for the Dalers.
"We expected more of a ground it out defensive type of win," Farmingdale coach Buddy Krumenacker said. "We could go with any kind of tempo with any team."
This one took on a defensive charm right from the start. Baldwin's Jovaun Tomlinson pinned the Dalers inside the 5-yard line after a 41-yard punt. On a fourth down and long from inside its own 3, Michael Abrahams came off the right end and blocked Zach Kolodny's punt for a safety and a 2-0 Baldwin first-quarter lead.
"The kicking game is so important," Krumenacker said. "It's the hardest piece of the high school game."
Farmingdale (10-1) would use its kicking game to flip field position the rest of the game. After a three-and-out for Baldwin, the Dalers responded with an eight-play, 78-yard scoring drive. Kevin Petit-Frere punctuated the march with a 4-yard scoring run, his 10th touchdown of the season. Kolodny added the extra-point kick to make it 7-2 with 10:34 left in the half.
Baldwin (8-3) went on an impressive 15-play, 73-yard drive that consumed 9:46 of the clock to retake the lead. The Bruins methodically drove the field before Tomlinson took it around right end for an 8-yard scoring run. Jared Myles added the kick to make it 9-7 at the half.
"We didn't have to change anything at the half," Krumenacker said. "We just had to continue to play hard."
On Farmingdale's first possession of the second half, the Dalers moved 62 yards in seven plays capped by a Michel Outing 2-yard scoring run. Petit-Frere keyed the march with a 32-yard run to the Bruins' 15. The kick failed and the Dalers led 13-9 with 7:26 left in the third quarter.
The Dalers' defense took control from there. Defensive tackles Mike Sinatro and Kevin Vandermark anchored a ferocious front and linebackers Feiner and Matt Dittmeier stymied the Baldwin running game. Dittmeier finished six tackles.
"There is no quit in this team," Dittmeier said. "And that's why we're headed to the Long Island championship."