After school closings and early dismissals, power outages and dangerous road conditions, bad weather and a presidential election -- football is finally back. The Suffolk Division I playoffs are underway this weekend, including a big Week 1 rematch between Sachem East and Northport High School.
Sachem East (4-4) features the return of star running back and defensive lineman Steven Casali, after an injury during a game with Connetquot limited his action for the rest of the season. Casali took the field in Week 1 against the Northport Tigers and had a career day en route to a 41-26 victory at home.
But a lot has happened since Week 1. Namely, Northport (6-2) has gone on a roll. After an 0-2 start to begin the season, they have won out, rattling off big wins, including upsets against Sachem North and Floyd. Off the strength of QB Sean Gilroy and the running of halfback John Trainor, Northport is poised and confident enough to make a run on anyone in the division.
Some important keys to the game:
- Get Steven Casali going. The East offensive line must create holes for Casali to get out into the open field. Once he's there, he's a threat to take it to the house every time.
- Danny Wolff to Brian Balsamo. As a QB-Wide Receiver tandem they are dangerous in and of themselves, but they also force Northport to spread the defense, which could create running lanes for Casali.
- Time of possession. Dominate the clock and you keep Northport's dangerous and hot offense on the sidelines.
- Capitalize on mistakes. Sachem East needs to score whenever they get a big stop or a turnover in the game. Get ahead and stay ahead.
- Steve Casali, Steve Casali, Steve Casali. Close up his lanes. Force him to run inside the tackles and don't let him get the edge. Limit Casali to one or two TDs and Northport will advance.
- Offensive line must create holes. Trainer can be just as dangerous with the football, so the O-line must create lanes for him to break a few down the field.
- Limit turnovers. Keep Casali, Wolff and Balsamo on the sideline as much as possible.
- Defense will dictate this game. Limit or shut down Sachem East's offense and Northport's offense is good enough to put the game away.
Sachem East at Northport High School. Sunday, November 11. Game Time: 1 p.m.
Note: This game time is a schedule change, due to the recent storms and school closings. The game is being held on Sunday, NOT Saturday as originally planned.