“Doesn’t affect me, what we achieved last year. We’re on this year. We put so much effort in this year,” said Sayville varsity football head coach Reade Sands about the mentality of the team going into Friday’s Suffolk County championship game against East Islip, of last year’s victory as Division III Long Island Champions.
With déjà vu of last year’s triumph, the team will play for the Suffolk County championship with an impressive 10-0 record in the regular and playoff season.
“We’re not letting up at all or coasting on past victories. We work hard every week,” said Sands.
The Golden Flashes won with a final score of 42-28 against Half Hollow Hills West at the semifinals for Division III on Saturday, Nov. 11, which was also Veterans Day, adding special meaning for the players and coaches.
This Friday at 4 p.m., at Stony Brook University, Sayville will play against East Islip (whom they won against earlier in the season with a one-score win of 20-13) for the Suffolk County championship.
Sands said the game will likely be one that is “hard fought,” characterizing East Islip as a formidable opponent.
“Can they stop our passing game?” pondered Sands. “That’s a big factor in who will win.”
Sands said while the team did have a strong lead, that there were communication errors in the defensive backfield that he attributed to underclassmen coming into their own in actual play.
“We have nine underclassmen on defense,” said Sands. “Communication breakdown happens when you’re young.”
At least two of the four touchdowns scored by Half Hollow Hills West were ones that Sands said “should not have happened” due to defensive miscommunication, where one player did not know their coverage area, and another play, where the coverage area was not communicated to a teammate.
“It’s rare, but [the other team] was able to hit those spots,” said Sands.
The mantra of this season for the coaching staff and players is “attention to detail,” and Sands said with his leaders “experienced” in playoffs, that strategy has been paramount to victories.
“Any team can beat you at any time,” said Sands. “I tend to be a pessimist and even when we do well, I always see it as close.”
Sands said the offensive line had improved tremendously as the season unfolded, becoming more “natural” in their plays.
“We had a lot of personnel changes in the beginning, but we found our best 11 and haven’t made any [changes] in the last two weeks,” said Sands.
The crowd also played an integral role, and Sands said the team “definitely feeds off the energy of the crowd.”
“It’s like Texas football around here—the parents are awesome every year and really know their football,” said Sands.