Warriors Reach Hofstra and Conference II Semifinals; Rout of Mepham Leads to 19th Final Four in 21 Years

Warriors Reach Hofstra and Conference II Semifinals; Rout of Mepham Leads to 19th Final Four in 21 Years

Nolan Foley, Reporter

With a 48-21 win over Mepham in the first round of the playoffs the Warriors were back at Hofstra for conference semifinals for the 19th time in 21 years. They face off against rival Garden City the night of Friday the 13th.

Wantagh finished its regular season with a 6-2 record and a win over two-time defending Nassau Conference II champs Carey.

Despite beating Carey and finishing with the same record Wantagh fell to the No. 4 seed in the county playoffs while Carey gained the No. 2 spot due to power points. Head coach Keith Sachs has led the Warriors to the playoffs 20 out of the last 21 seasons, dating back to 1996.

In the first round win the teams seniors stepped up to make key plays in big moments. Captain Kyle Sliwak led the Warriors to the win with 17 carries for 154 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns including a 60 yard touchdown run up the middle in the third quarter. The teams big second half would lead the team to a 48-21 win and earn them a date with the undefeated Garden City Trojans.

The Warriors started their season September 12 with a tough match up against local rival Macarthur, where they lost 38-21. They then went on the road where they knocked off New Hyde Park 35-0 and returned home for an intriguing Homecoming matchup against 5th ranked Long Beach where the Warriors won 27-0 in front of a packed Wantagh crowd.

They then faced Carey, who was defeated by Garden City for its first loss in 25 games, two weeks before. The Warriors would make it two losses for the Sea Hawks as they went on the road and won 38-14 in what was considered an upset. Dylan Beckwith sparked the Warriors to the win with a kick return for a touchdown on the opening play of the second half. The Warriors scored 28 unanswered second half points to complete the upset.

Wantagh got its next win from a rare sequence of events where Westbury was forced to forfeit and the Warriors improved to 4-1 on the season. The Warriors kept rolling as they beat Elmont 42-20. They came home for the match up of the season against first place Garden City on Wantagh’s senior day. While being the featured game of the week on MSG Varsity the Warriors kept it close till half only down 14-6 heading into the break. The Trojans then got the next two touchdowns to make the lead 28-6 at the end of the third. Wantagh fought back in the fourth to get it within one score but with a few missed extra points earlier in the game it was put too far out of reach and the Warriors went down 28-18.

The team would bounce back with a commanding 40-27 win over Sewanhaka on the last game of the regular season. Bruno Surace and Kyle Sliwak both ended the season with six touchdowns and over 500 rushing yards while quarter back Rob Tucker finished with 1,000 passing yards and twelve touchdowns.
Wantagh completed its 61st season and has the overall record of 316-213-16 is considered one of the best programs in Nassau County. Coach Keith Sachs completed his 24th season as head coach of the Warriors and has an overall record of 131-76-2.

With three returning three year starters (Kyle Sliwak, Dylan Beckwith, Corey Sachs) the Warriors offense was quick and balanced. But no offense can run or pass without their O-line. The Warriors returned four O-lineman from last year Kyle Loney, Mike Korwan, Mark Buchner, and Sean Colbert. Behind them the offense was led by second-year starter quarterback Rob Tucker and fullback Bruno Surace. The Warrior’s offense was explosive on the run and had that big play ability that all Wantagh teams have.

On the defensive side of the ball the Warriors were led by returning starters and seniors Corey Sachs, Bobby Casey, Kyle Sliwak, Dylan Beckwith and first year starter John Burke. The Warriors had a strong linebacker core once again as returning starters Kyle Sliwak and junior Sean Colbert incorporated sophomore Gavin Casey into their defense. On the defensive line juniors Pat Smith and Joe Valenti had some help from returning starter Mark Buchner. Defensive coordinator Tony Carter and lineman coach Jim Morrow had a surplus of defensive players to choose from to stop opposing offenses.