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Football Team Tackles Second Straight Conference III Final

Kieran Baisley, Sports Editor

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The Warriors are coming off their second-ever Long Island championship season having defeated East Islip in last year’s title game, so these seniors know how to win. This season has been a successful one for the Warriors as they are now 8-2 and won their second playoff matchup against Roosevelt in the Conference III semifinal at Hofstra University, November 11.

Despite some devastating injuries to its best players, Wantagh is back in the Nassau County title game for the 16th time in Coach Keith Sachs’ career here. Losing talented players like Tom Rohan, Gavin Casey and Hunter Felix for the year would have derailed most teams. Rohan, who ran for 687 yards on 85 attempts, is currently 13th in Nassau in rushing yards. In addition, starting quarterback Jake Castellano couldn’t play quarterback in the playoff semis due to an injury, though he was able to play linebacker.

“It’s nice to be in the championship game with all of the adversity we have dealt with,” said Coach Sachs, whose teams have made 20 out of the last 22 Nassau County Final Fours. “We’ve pulled together and have had a number of different players step up.”

One of those players was Ryan Murphy. A wide receiver, Murphy threw the winning TD pass with just over a minute to go to lead the Warriors past Roosevelt, 25-20. It was the third time this year that Murphy connected on the double pass for a TD. After catching a toss from quarterback Ryan McCarty, Murphy hit Chris Hogan for the 39-yard game-winning TD. “He [Hogan] was wide open and I just chucked it to him,” said Murphy. Pat Walsh had a huge game, too, gaining 129 yards rushing and scoring two touchdowns. And Anthony D’Onofrio scored on a 9-yard pass from McCarty.

Of all of the great coaching jobs turned in by Coach Sachs, this could be his best. He has his team bearing down for the title game this weekend. The defensive coordinator Tony Carter coached the team’s strength, its defense, this season. On the D line, Jack Lavache lead Nassau County with 10 sacks. Billy Bonasera and Logan von Runnen also had big seasons on the defensive line. Offensive line coach Jim Morrow did a terrific job as well.

The offense, high-scoring as usual though not considered the Warriors’ strength, had a great year. Prior to the semifinal playoff game, the offense was led by Castellano, Murphy, D’Onofrio and Walsh. D’Onofrio, tied for 12th in Nassau in receiving yards, has caught 21 passes for 374 yards and 6 scores. Murphy, tied for 25th in Nassau in receiving yards, has hauled in 13 catches for 138 yards and 4 scores.

In the backfield quarterback Jake Castellano ran the offense. This is Castellano’s 2nd straight year starting and he is 12th in the county in passing yards with 670. He has thrown 7 touchdowns. Walsh has stepped up, rushing for 502 yards on 68 carries – good enough for 24th in the county.

The Warriors have a big showdown this Saturday for the Conference III championship at Hofstra against Lawrence. This time, it’s redemption for their loss to Lawrence earlier in the year.

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