When the air chills and the autumn breeze blows, a few elements come about. Some people think about turkey day and its seemingly effortless transition to the holiday season. However, there is one aspect of late fall that stands out, especially in the eyes of sports fans. This is the intensifying of football, including high school football playoffs that take place in November. And here at Hills West, it was indeed an electrifying run for the Colts.
The postseason run started with crushing victories over Miller Place and Sayville. Hills West defended their home turf to perfection, allowing only 12 points while putting up 40 over the course of the opening stages of the playoffs.
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The Suffolk County Championship match up, however, was against a different animal. In this clash of high school football giants, the Colts would face the undefeated Westhampton Beach Hurricanes. Westhampton entered the county championship on a 22 game winning streak, and had handed Hills West its only loss of the season on October 13th right here on our home field.
This rematch would prove to be a tall task for the Colts, but the team’s focus going into the game was one centered around unwavering faith. According to Senior linebacker Michael Carubia, “the team’s mentality all week was to believe in your ability that you can do it, out-physical them in all aspects of the game and show no mercy to Westhampton.” This mindset paid off, as Hills West claimed the Suffolk County Championship with a final score of 21-10, shutting out the undefeated Hurricanes in the second half.
This triumphant victory led the Colts to their final task: the Long Island Championship game. For this football team, a victory in the LIC, the last game of the season, has been the goal since summer workouts. This past Saturday, Hills West was presented with an opportunity for this goal to come into fruition, as the football team traveled to Hofstra to face off against the undefeated champions of Nassau County, also known as the Plainedge Red Devils.
In preparation for the game, Coach Madden’s message to his team was simple: “we earned the right to play in this game, we belong here, and leave everything out on the field. Because we have nothing to lose.”
The exciting matchup started slow, with the Colts forcing the Red Devils to punt on their first two drives, as well as the Colts turning the ball over on their own possession. However, the next time the ball was in the hands of the Suffolk County Champions, they would not be so careless. About halfway through the first quarter, Justin Brown ripped off a 75-yard touchdown run, showing off some serious burners. Physicality began to take over the game, with huge hits coming from both teams. Quarter number one ended with a score of 6-0.
It wouldn’t be long before the Colts struck again. On their first full possession of the second quarter, Deyvon Wright led an electrifying run game, bringing Hills West into the red zone with an incredible dash. He punched in a 7-yard touchdown run, and Matt Mandel converted the extra point, giving Hills West a 13-0 lead. Plainedge shortly responded, however, as stud running back Luke Lombardi gashed the Hills West defense for a 72-yard touchdown run. A blocked extra point by Deyvon Wright made the score 13-6, and it seemed like the Red Devils were getting back into the game. But the Colts would not flounder again.
Just as the tide seemed to turn in Plainedge’s favor, Hills West would immediately strike back. The turning point of this game came at the hands of Senior Captain Gerald Filardi, as the quarterback/safety/punter added another position to his resume. Filardi lined up to return the kick after Plainedge’s touchdown, and he took it to the house!
The Colts took a 20-6 lead, and the rest of the game was blown open. In the second half, Deyvon Wright would add a 49-yard touchdown run, and Justin Brown would rip off another long touchdown rush. The defense showed up, refusing to cede another point for the remainder of the game while turning the Red Devils over twice in the second half. The Colts ran away with the Long Island Championship with a final score of 34-6.
For this whole team, especially the Senior Class, the LIC is a monumental victory. It was a goal set months in advance, and it was one that this team would not let slip away. As for the seniors, this win is a clear representation of years of hard work. Three years ago, as Freshmen, this class suffered a defeat in the Suffolk County Championship. Two years ago, as Sophomores, they were unable to claim the Long Island Championship after winning the Suffolk County Championship.
Last year, as juniors, this class lost in the Suffolk County Championship at the hands of Westhampton Beach. But we all know how that rematch ended.
When asked how it feels to accomplish a goal after years of hard work, Michael Carubia responded by saying “hard work pays off. If you love what you do and have a passion for what you do, you can achieve anything in life.”