Football Team Blitzes Conference III

Nolan Foley, Sports Editor

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The Wantagh football team moved to Conference III this season, due to the school’s lowered enrollment. This meant the team will no longer play foe Garden City but will bring back rivalries from the conference that Wantagh was in for 20 years. Wantagh won two county championships, a Long Island championship and a Rutgers Cup in Conference III. The conference change brings back Plainedge and Bethpage as rivals. Head coach Keith Sachs led the program on offense once again this season with help from the line coach Jim Morrow.

The season was a successful one for the Warriors as they went 8-0 and won their first conference championship since 2007. The team dominated in the regular season with no opponent coming within two touchdowns. They continued that dominance in the first round of the playoffs crushing Floral Park 48-0 and advancing to the semifinals against Bethpage.

In the playoffs semifinals at Hofstra Wantagh was led by junior Tom Rohan as he had 195 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The team jumped out to an early 7-0 lead on the first drive of the game but it was the defense that would stand strong all game. It allowed only 88 yards all game in route to a 28-0 win and the Warriors advance to a second straight county final appearance where they will face Roosevelt, who they beat 28-0 earlier in the year.

The defensive coordinator Tony Carter coached the team’s strength this season, which was its defense that returned 5 starters from last season and was led by the d-line of Pat Smith, Joe Valenti, and Jack Lavache. The linebackers returned starters from last season Sean Colbert and Gavin Casey while incorporating Jessie Beard and junior Pat Walsh. The outside backers this year were Anthony D’Onofrio and Casey Murphy. In the defensive backfield Jimmy Joyce led the unit at safety with cornerbacks Devin Kennedy and Tom Rohan. The defense yielded 56 points in eight regular season games the second fewest points allowed on Long Island in all conferences.

The offense, high scoring as usual although not considered the Warriors’ strength, scored 270 points, the most in Conference III. The offense was led by the offensive line with seniors Sean Colbert, Nolan Foley, Mike Frendo, Mike Kessler, and junior Billy Bonesera. At tight end Joe Valenti saw majority of the snaps and Jimmy Joyce and Ryan Murphy played wide receiver. In the backfield junior quarterback Jake Castellano ran the offense with help from running back Tom Rohan and fullback Gavin Casey. At z-back Devin Kennedy and Anthony D’Onofrio got carries. The team’s captains this season were Sean Colbert, Joe Valenti, Jimmy Joyce, and Nolan Foley.

The team started their season against rival Plainedge. It was all Warriors as on the first play from scrimmage Tom Rohan burst through the wide-open hole made by the offensive line and scored an 80-yard touchdown.

The defense held up as well led by Sean Colbert who ran down a Plainedge player who was about to score a 65-yard touchdown in the second quarter that would’ve tied the game when Colbert stripped him at the five-yard line. The team went on to win the game 33-7. They then rolled through Lynbrook on Homecoming winning 31-0. Following this Wantagh played their first home night game in 6 years against undefeated Roosevelt where they won 28-0 led by Castellano’s two touchdown passes and Gavin Casey’s two touchdowns on the ground. The next week Wantagh traveled to Division and despite the score being 7-7 early in the second quarter they went on to win 42-7 after two punt returns for touchdowns by Anthony D’Onofrio. They continued their undefeated season with a win over the undefeated No. 2 seed 31-7.

On senior day the Warriors offense couldn’t be stopped as they scored on every possession until late in the fourth quarter and went onto win 42-21. They would finish the regular season on the road with a win over Roslyn 42-8 and over Bethpage 21-7 which was their closest game of the regular season.

The team plays in the Nassau County final Friday the 18th. Were the Warriors to win there, there would most likely be a showdown with the two best teams on Long Island at Hofstra, November 25.

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