West Islip came into Sachem East and scored on its first three drives of the game to hold a big lead early en route to a 37-6 victory. The Lions were the first team this season to slow down running back Steven Casali and scored on big plays to beat the Flaming Arrows during their homecoming.
Things were rough from the start for Sachem. Quarterback Anthony Riggi fumbled the snap on Sachem’s fourth play from scrimmage but the defense held strong and allowed only a field goal to the Lions.
Sachem went three-and-out on its next possession and West Islip again struck quickly. Anthony Santo hit Ryan Wieczorek on the sideline after a busted coverage. Wieczorek caught the ball and scampered into the end zone for a 42-yard touchdown.
For the Lions, getting out to an early lead and focusing on stopping Casali were the keys.
“We came in a with a game plan saying, ‘hey this is a rock solid kid at running back and our main goal is to stop him,” Lions head coach Steve Miletti said. “I think the statement was the goal line stand in the second quarter - that was a tremendous job by us. That kid has been trucking people all season and he still had some good runs but we bent but we didn’t break.”
Slowing down Casali meant allowing 107 yards on 20 carries. He was also all over the field on defense, recording 10 tackles.
“We tried to loosen them up and really throw the ball,” Sachem head coach Mark Wojciechowski said. “He (Casali) is a good runner and I thought we had a good plan and it just didn’t work out that way.”
Poor tackling in the secondary allowed Santo to score on a 54-yard quarterback keeper early in the second quarter and put the Lions up 17-0. Sachem had a chance to answer and put together an 11-play, 63-yard drive that ultimately ended in no points as Joe Ryan was stuffed on a fourth-and-one from the three yard line.
Sachem came out fired up after halftime and thought it had forced West Islip to a punt on a fourth-and-15 play from near midfield. But instead of punting Santo lofted a pass to Sam Illaio that ended up going all the way to the end zone for a touchdown.
“We preach winning all three parts of the football game and I think special team’s right there kind of catapulted us,” Miletti said. “It was something we talked about that if we saw them coming we were ready for it. We did it and executed it. It was a really gutsy call but it was windy, how far was the punt going to go?”
The fake punt was the dagger for Sachem East, as West Islip used its well-executed option offense to grind out the game.
“They run the option and they run it really well,” Wojciechowski said. “They did a good job with it today and they’re very talented, very athletic and fast and that’s what happens. They executed very well today and we didn’t.”
1 2 3 4 F
Sachem 0 ........ 0 ........ 0 ........ 6 .......... 6
West Islip 10 .......7 .........13 .......7 ......... 37
-WI: Woodburn, 37 FG
-WI: Santo to Wieczorek, 42 pass, Woodburn PAT
-WI: Santo, 54 run, Woodburn PAT
-WI: Santo to Ilario, 54 pass, Missed PAT
-WI: Belyski, 12 run, Woodburn PAT
-S: Riggi to Balsamo, 20 pass, 2-Pt conversion no good
-WI: Brady, 10 run, Woodburn PAT