West Islip has had the perfect season so far.
For the first time since 1995, the Lions have played eight regular season games and have proceeded to win every single one of them.
In Saturday afternoon’s victory, Sam Ilario paced West Islip with five touchdowns as the Lions defeated Smithtown East, 39-14, on Senior Day at West Islip High School.
“It feels great especially because we haven’t been undefeated since ’95,” says the junior quarterback. “You have to look at the people around me, the offensive line, Nick Aponte, all of the receivers, the defense, even though I’m the quarterback leading the offense, it’s because of everybody.”
The humble junior ran for 147 yards on 16 rushing attempts and the five scores, four of which came in the first half. When he wasn’t running it, he was using his powerful right arm.
On West Islip’s first drive he showed why Head Coach Steve Mileti has him under center.
The Lions (8-0) started on their own 14-yard line following a block in the back call on Smithtown East’s opening drive punt. That wasn’t a problem for Ilario and company. The junior engineered a drive that saw running back Danny Johnson pick up a pivotal first down on a 9-yard run on a third-and-three to their own 40. Following that was easily the best play of the game, Ilario dropped back and saw a streaking Aponte down the middle of the field, the quarterback threw a beautiful spiral that looked like it would be a smidge too far, but Aponte made a leaping grab to haul it in for a 44-yard reception. The next play was West Islip’s first blow. Ilario called his own number, took it to the right side, received some great up field blocking, and made his way into the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown.
“This is another game where the offensive line just played incredible,” Ilario said. “I think they’ve played incredible all year, and it makes my job a lot easier.”
Smithtown East’s following possession was a quick one, but not in a good way.
Quarterback John Daniggelis was picked off by the senior Aponte at West Islip’s 34-yard line for his first of two interceptions on the day.
However, Smithtown East (5-3) would rally after West Islip was forced to punt. Behind the legs and arm of Daniggelis and two penalties against the Lions, the Bulls tied it at seven with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Peter Triolo.
From there, the undefeated Lions would show why they are atop of Suffolk Division II.
Ilario would give his team the lead for good just 1:34 into the second quarter with a 12-yard touchdown run. He would follow up that effort five minutes later with his third score of the half on a 5-yard run. The incredible first half for the junior would conclude with 28 seconds remaining in the half when he followed lead blocker Danny Johnson up the gut for a 17-yard touchdown run that put his team up 26-7 at the break.
“Danny Johnson is really one of the main reason why we are doing so good this year,” says Ilario. “Obviously the runs he has are incredible, but you have to see the lead blocks he has. Most of my runs you have to see the lead blocks this kid has done.”
With the offensive outbursts handled from Ilario, the game was shut down from the play of the defense.
Nick Aponte led that defense with two interceptions. His second came in the third quarter with the Bulls driving in the Lions defensive half. “I just left my feet and just kept my eyes on the ball. I collided and my face hit the ground, it felt great, but I made sure I held onto the ball,” says Aponte.
Aponte who now has five interceptions on the season and Joe Barcia who made 12 tackles halted any chance of resurgence from Smithtown East.
“I’m not that big of a kid. I have more speed, that’s what is on my side. Just clogging the wholes and letting the linebackers come in, they did great. The defensive line did amazing,” says Aponte playing in his final regular season game. “It feels great just to play for all the alumni, everybody around us, our town, we have one of the best towns and our community is great.”
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