With the schedules out in Nassau, Suffolk and the CHSFL and the start of the football season on Long Island a little more than one month away, News 12 Varsity takes a look at some of the top games to watch.
Here are the next three games in our countdown of the top 25 games.
WEST ISLIP AT BAY SHORE
Saturday, Oct. 14, 1 p.m.
Bay Shore, which moves from Division I to Division II, aspires to get where West Islip did a year ago when the Lions reached the Suffolk Division II final at Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium. As the top seed in the preseason, the Marauders will not sneak up on anybody and West Islip is the No. 2 seed.
Jake Guercio vs. Matt Mirabito
Guercio may be one of the top baseball players on Long Island, but the Fordham commit is also a pretty solid dual-threat quarterback. As a junior, Guercio had a knack for making the big play in the biggest games, including a 70-yard touchdown run and a 35-yard TD pass in a 45-14 win over Smithtown East in the quarterfinals and a 36-yard TD run in a loss to Hills West in the county final.
In Mirabito, a 6-foot-7, 300-pound rising senior who earned All-County honors a year ago, Bay Shore has one of the top two-way linemen on Long Island. Along with returning starter Nassai Mimms, Mirabito, who will help pave holes for junior running back Bunice Knight, is also a force defensively for the Marauders.
You have to go back to Week 2 of the 2013 season for the last meeting between these two teams with West Islip pulling out a 41-7 road victory. Sam Ilario rushed for 221 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries and also had a pair of interceptions, Matt McKeon had 12 carries for 129 yards and two touchdowns and J.J. Downey recovered a fumble and returned it 27 yards for another TD for the Lions.
FREEPORT AT OCEANSIDE
Saturday, Oct. 7, 3:30 p.m.
In Nassau Conference I, this is one of the marquee showdowns of the regular season, pitting two explosive offenses against each other. The odds are pretty good, too, that they will meet again at some point in the postseason, perhaps at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium. Oceanside is the preseason No. 1 seed in Conference I with defending champion Freeport checking in at No. 2.
Robert Fitzsimmons vs. Tommy Heuer
Fitzsimmons, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound rising senior linebacker, was the heartbeat of a stout and underrated Freeport defense. He had 97 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions for the Long Island Class I champions. Perhaps the best compliment came from Freeport coach Russ Cellan, who called Fitzsimmons the Red Devils “resident tough guy.”
There’s nothing quite like having a returning starting back behind an experienced and veteran offensive line and that’s just what the Sailors have this fall. In his first year as the Oceanside starter, Heuer connected on 56 percent of his passes for 1,376 yards and 14 touchdowns.
In Week 7 a year ago, Freeport rallied to beat Oceanside, 41-28, in a thriller. Trailing 28-21 late in the third quarter, the Red Devils tied the score on Rashad Tucker’s 20-yard TD. Elyjiah Campbell put Freeport up on a 7-yard TD run with 3:05 remaining and Jaelin Hood closed out the scoring with a 95-yard pick-six as time expired to lead Freeport to a thrilling home win. Fitzsimmons had 17 tackles in the win and forced a turnover on downs at the Freeport 5-yard line with 5:49 left in the fourth.
ST. ANTHONY’S AT STEPINAC
Friday, Sept. 15, 7 p.m.
These teams have established themselves as two of the elite programs in the CHSFL Class AAA so anytime they line up opposite each other it is a game to watch. That is certainly true in a Week 2 showdown that may set the stage for the rest of the season.
Heron Maurisseau-O’Neal vs. Trill Williams
St. Anthony’s rising senior Heron Maurisseau-O’Neal is a speed demon, having won the 55-meter dash in a record time of 6.46 at the Long Island Elite Meet. A year after playing behind seniors Tyler Palminteri and Andrew Hancock, the UConn-bound receiver, who had four touchdowns on 12 catches, is likely to be quarterback Greg Campisi’s top option.
Trill Williams is also a speedster with great change of direction. His coming out party was a five-touchdown performance against Iona Prep before his junior season was cut short by a knee injury. The Syracuse-bound rising senior is a threat on both sides of the ball and could go head-to-head against Maurisseau-O’Neil when the Friars are on offense.
After back-to-back wins by Stepinac, St. Anthony’s earned a measure of revenge against the defending CHSFL champions with an impressive 38-23 victory at home last October 8. In his first varsity start, sophomore Greg Campisi was 19-of-28 for 278 yards and four touchdowns to hand Stepinac its first league loss since the Friars defeated the Crusaders in the 2013 semifinals.